Tuesday, June 01, 2004

May Inflation Up 0.35%: Reuters notes that "Peru's consumer price index rose 0.35% in May, pushed up by higher food, drink, clothes and shoes prices," according to the latest numbers from INEI.

Tragedy in Trujillo: Reuters reports that "a Peruvian school teacher blinded four of her pupils and left 20 suffering from severe eye irritation after she used a traditional hair shampoo to wash away hair lice." The school is located in Paijan, near Trujillo, and the shampoo was a mixture of alcohol and chirimoya seeds.

Train Still to Arrive in Lima: BNAmericas reports that a "revised timetable for the international bidding process for Lima's urban train concession project is expected by month-end," according to the city's private investment promotion entity CEPRI. This "33-year concession is for the construction, equipment supply and operation of the 10km Villa El Salvador-Avenida Grau extension to the existing metro line from Atocongo (Villa El Salvador) to the Dos de Mayo hospital. The work is estimated to cost US$174 million."

Peruvian Art in Catalunya: Barcelona's Museu Nacional d'art de Catalunya is exhibiting Peru: Indigenous and Viceroyal through August 15, according to Art Daily.

Camisea on Hold?, cont.: The Washington Post includes two sentences on the possible delay by environmental protestors of the opening of the Camisea natural gas pipeline. (See also yesterday's Bloomberg report.)

Chinos & Cholos: Z Magazine publishes an essay by Chibu Lagman, a professor at Canada's Athabascau University, on his travels in Cuzco and Lima in May and his rambling thoughts on cocaleros, chinos, cholos and road blockades, many of them distilled from cabbies in those cities. Though some of his statements are flat-out wrong ("The Peruvian government hired a US based investigating agency to track down the hidden wealth of the Fujimoris. Millions of dollars in fees later, the private investigating agency found nothing."), it is an interesting first-person account by a foreigner to what has been happenning in Peru this last month.

Israeli Conversion Law May Shift: The Miami Herald publishes yesterday's Associated Press story on Israel's Supreme Court ruling that non-Orthodox converts to Judaism should be accepted as citizens. The story (and court case) is pegged Peruvian Ghustina Castro's experience. Israel's Haaretz says it is an interim ruling and reports that "only a handful of the 15 converts who petitioned the High Court of Justice with a demand to have their conversions recognized attended yesterday's session to hear the justices' ruling in their case." Their attorneys from the Center for Jewish Pluralism explained that "the road to a final decision on their case remains a long one." The paper suggests that "the news wasn't good for the petitioners." Ha'aretz also includes quotes from Justina Castro: "I am very sad; I thought it would be over by now." It also offers more details on Castro, the family she has been nannying for, and her boyfriend. ALSO: Haaretz includes a quote from Interior Minister Avraham Poraz who welcomed the court's decision, noting that it "shortens the road to the recognition of Reform and Conservative conversion and the breaking of the rabbinical-Orthodox monopoly."

Peru vs. Uruguay Tonight: Reuters offers a few more photographs of Team Peru in Montivideo preparing for the match against Uruguay including Andres Mendoza, Mendoza and Santiago Acasiete and Carlos Orejuela and Martin Hidalgo.

Japan - 'No More Coca': Japan's Asahi Shinbum runs an editorial, "Stop Drug Trafficking: "Eradication should start at the source." The article focuses on coca and poppy cultivation, calls for international enforcement and declares, "As with terrorist acts, there is no magic bullet for drugs. Drug-trafficking rings and channels of distribution should be crushed by closer international cooperation. Efforts must also be made to eradicate the sources of supply. If political unrest subsides and the economies improve in the drug-producing countries, a way out will be opened for poppy and coca farmers."

SBaca on Tour: Susana Baca will be presenting a concert in Skopje, Macedonia this weekend, according to the Macedonian Information Agency.

MVLl: The London Observer's literary editor Robert McCrum, writes a retrospective which includes his time as Mario Vargas Llosa's editor at Faber & Faber (though his dates seem to be at least a year off): "In the summer of 1990 Mario announced he was going to run for the presidency of his native Peru. It seemed both thrilling and utterly natural. A novelist for Presidente? But of course. As soon as possible I contrived to get on a plane for Lima to enjoy a grandstand view of what some commentators were predicting would be a one-horse race." But McCrum's memory (or perhaps editing skills?) is again a bit off as he notes that, "When I arrived in Lima in March 1991, he was 20% ahead of his nearest rival in the polls." ALSO: Perhaps in a demonstration of who was in MVLl's inner circle, McCrum writes: "On polling day I paced the corridors of the Lima Sheraton with his political advisers as the results were posted."

National Anthem Revisions: A Reuters story in the Sydney Morning Herald reviews the national anthem as a 'slave' anthem: "Peru today named a group of 10 experts to assess if the national anthem, composed 183 years ago, still strikes the right note." Justice Minister Baldo Kresalja charged the panel "to see if the anthem 'reflects the feeling of the population and unity of the nation and to study the text of its verses'," according to a resolution in El Peruano. The resolution said that "historians agreed there were 'substantial errors and an apocryphal verse'."
The story includes a full translation of the chorus and first verse:
We are free; let us always be so,
And let the sun rather deny its light
Than that we should fail the solemn vow
Which our country raised to God.

For a long time the Peruvian, oppressed,
Dragged the ominous chain;
Condemned to cruel serfdom,
For a long time he moaned in silence.
But as soon as the sacred cry of
Freedom! was heard on his coasts,
He shook off the indolence of the slave,
He raised his humiliated head.

"Lawmakers have in the past sought to scrub the offending verse and reinstate the original: 'Now the sacred cry of the free has silenced the din of chains which we heard for three centuries of horror and the world heard in astonishment'." (In Spanish: an AFP report.)

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