Friday, June 11, 2004

Peru Won’t Defend Aero-Continente: The Associated Press reports that the Minister of Tranportation, Jose Ortiz, declared that the Peruvian government "will not help the nation's largest airline fight being placed on a U.S. blacklist for companies suspected of engaging in drug trafficking." NOTE: "Since the blacklisting, a U.S.-based ticketing service pulled the plug on the airline's electronic booking system and two credit card companies began blocking users from buying tickets with their cards." The Minister has been discussing "a contingency plan to divvy up routes in the event that Aero Continente collapses."

Gov’t Gets More To Spend: Dow Jones reports that Congress "approved supplementary spending worth 1.46 billion soles at the request of the executive branch. The legislature said in a statement that the revenues for the new expenditures will come mainly from increased taxes."

Newmont Mining and its Defenders: Denvers' Rocky Mountain News runs an op-ed by Carlos Santa Cruz (Vice president of South American operations for Newmont Mining) in response to Marco Antonia Arana Zegarra's op-ed which ran last Saturday (see 'Newmont Mining and Its Critics' below.) Writes Santa Cruz: "I've worked for both Newmont Mining Corp. and its Yanacocha gold mine over the last decade and represent many employees who take great pride in the contributions we have made in the areas of social and environmental responsibility. The June 5 commentary left the false impression that the mine is causing pollution in the local water system. This is untrue and particularly frustrating given so much hard evidence that exists to the contrary," and Santa Cruz encourages to read reports supporting his view at Yanacocha's website. "As in all businesses, accidents do regrettably happen. In 2000, a Peruvian transportation company contracted by Yanacocha spilled elemental mercury on a road connecting three small communities many miles from the mine. Yanacocha committed substantial expertise and resources to identify and provide treatment to those affected."

More Mining: Reuters reports that Noranda mining representatives " 'will be "very careful' before bidding on the Las Bambas copper project in Peru, although it has not backed out of the process." Reuters gets the quotes at the Reuters Mining Summit in Toronto on Friday. Earlier this week Barrick Gold Corp. and Southern Peru Copper Corp. said they "would not bid for Las Bambas if the royalties plan goes ahead." Details: "Peru on May 7 fixed a base price at $40 million for the Las Bambas auction and a royalty of 2 percent of sales. Winning bidders must commit to invest $1 billion or build a processing plant with a minimum capacity of 50,000 tonnes of mineral a day."

Living On Turtle Blood: Reuters reports that "three Peruvian shark fishermen lost at sea for 59 days survived by eating turtle meat and drinking the reptiles' blood," according to a story in El Comercio. They were out in the ocean since March 25. "The sailors tried drinking the water in the radiator of the ship's engine but quickly realized it was toxic and turned to turtle blood instead." On May 23, they were rescued by an Ecuadorean ship "some 700 miles from the Peruvian coast ... [after] each had lost 22 pounds (10 kg)."

An Iquitos Journey: The Sydney Morning Herald (registration: peruvia@peruvia.com/peruvia) has a travel piece on Iquitos. Though the writer states that he is a frequent visitor to South America, the piece is written with some appealing innocence and not without some familiar travelogue language. "Iquitos's tiny jungle airport, deep in the Amazon rainforest, is more like a dinghy in a high sea than an international terminal. ... the syrupy dark of a rainforest night, zapped by bolts of lightning and lashed mercilessly by rain. ... The streets are alive with three-wheel taxis named mosquitoes for their signature whine and erratic road sense." Also, sociological conclusions: Iquitos, in many ways, is a relic of the impossible promise that capitalism made to the jungle." It also mentions the ‘Iquitos Monthly’ whose current edition has "a splashy cover story: Giant Snake Attacks Fisherwoman."

Mummies Detained Before Leaving Peru: Agence France Press, the Associated Press, and the Voice of America report that "Peruvian customs agents opening suspicious packages found five ancient skulls from a pre-Inca culture that someone tried to mail to California." The agents became suspicious after the package "emitted a disagreeable odour" which turned out to be "mummified skulls, estimated to be as old as 2,700 years." Agence France Press suggests a link with the Paracas culture. The Associated Press offers a photo of "Two Peruvian postal workers look at X-rays of skulls" and a photograph shows a "postal worker" holding one of the skulls.

Ummmmm! Alpaca!: The Associated Press reports on a new cookbook DESCO just published titled, "Alpaca: The Great Andean Taste," which includes "tasty alpaca steaks." The recipes "come from six chefs in Lima as well as women from community kitchens in the highland Huancavelica region," according to the book's editor Hugo Carrillo. Note: "Alpaca has higher levels of protein, very low fat and no cholesterol." The Associated Press offers a photo of alpacas. Quoted: Chef Nelson Medrano.

No Hiding in Argentina: The Associated Press and Reuters each offer a photo of Minister of Foreign Relations Manuel Rodriguez Cuadros withi his Argentine counterpart Rafael Bielsa "exchang[ing] documents during a meeting at the Argentine Foreign Ministry in Buenos Aires [after] sign[ing] an agreement to accelerate extradition procedures in both countries."

Report on Violence and its Cost: The World Health Organization released a report on the Economic Dimensions of Interpersonal Violence that reports on "the expensive economic consequences to societies of violence." See the press release and the full report (70pp., .pdf). The reports bases its information on Peru on Efrain Gonzalez y Olarte and Pilar Gavilano Llosa's "Does Poverty Cause Domestic Violence? Some Answers from Lima." (See Chapter Three in this volume.)

Wash Your Hands!: Medical News Today reports on a project to get people to wash their hands which, "if widely adopted, would save more than one million lives around the world yearly, most of them children under the age of five in poorer countries," according to a program from GlaxoSmithKline, the African Medical and Research Foundation, and Plan International. It quotes a field worker in Piura, Alejandro Herrera saying, "teachers and children clearly understand the project’s messages as these are very simple, but the results show that these simple messages are very effective in changing behaviour and improving children’s health."

Travellers to Peru:
- The Scotsman (among others) runs a wire story headlined, "Posh brings touch of glamour to Peruvian slums" on Victoria Beckham visit to a "poverty-stricken children working on a rubbish tip in Peru. Seeing the children on their hands and knees sifting through piles of burnt junk, it was worlds away from the glamorous lifestyle led by the former Spice Girl. The three-day trip was filmed as part of a Sport Relief documentary highlighting the plight of disadvantaged communities and will be shown on BBC1 next month."
- The Gloucestershire Echo runs "Peru Journey Was Magical" on a Cancer Research event.
- The Pepperell Free Press reports on visits by the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences to the Catholic University of Santa Maria in Arequipa. One of the Trustees of the college received "an embroidered T-shirt that says "INKA MAMA (fearless leader)."

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