Friday, June 04, 2004

Vladi's Russian Connection: The Russian Information Agency Novosti reports that former KGB General and Rosvooruzheniye CEO Yevgeny Ananyev has been issued a warrant for his arrest by Italian authorities for his ties to Vladimiro Montesinos. Ananyev, along with Olga Beltsova and Giulio Rizzo "are charged with money-laundering operations; the three persons were apparently bribed during the signing of a contract for the sale of Russia's Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29 Fulcrum air-superiority fighters to Peru." Novosti states that "all those people were linked with Torres Montesinos [sic], who had signed a contract with Rosvooruzheniye for the purchase of three MiG-29 aircraft worth US$117 million in 1998 on behalf of the Peruvian Government." The total graft expected in the deal was $18.4 million "with the Peruvian citizen getting nearly $11 million. Ananyev was entitled to the remaining sum total." Russian newspapers Gazeta and Pravda follow the story based on Novosti's reporting.

Note To USA Travellers: The USA State Department Consular Information Sheet on Peru has this update: "NOTE: As of June 1, 2004, it is illegal for any person within the United States, as well as U.S. citizens, nationals, and resident aliens elsewhere, to fly on Aero Continente. Persons who violate this provision are potentially subject to criminal and civil penalties under U.S. law. Further information on this matter is available on the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s website at http://www.treas.gov/ofac." The Department of Treasury's page on Asset Control includes not only FZevallos' date of birth and libreta electoral number but also information on sisters Lupe Maritza Zevallos Gonzales (now CEO of AeroContinente) and Milagros Angelina Zevallos Gonzales, brother Winston Ricardo Zevallos Gonzales as well as Maximo Zadi Desme Hurtado, John Yvan Mejia Magnani, and Carlos Enrique Morales Andrade. According to a source, the USA Consul Charles Smith stated clearly, "it is no longer legal for U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents to fly on or otherwise conduct business with Aero Continente." However, Smith also noted that at this time, "we do not have information about penalty enforcement."

Asparagus Wars, cont.: The Seattle Times reports that "Washington's last and largest asparagus cannery will close next year as the work moves to cheaper plants in Peru." Though the focus is on the Seneca Foods' asparagus canning, it also notes that "[i]ts carrot-canning line also will close next year." Alan Schreiber, administrator of the Washington Asparagus Commission says, "the move will eliminate 2,000 seasonal jobs in asparagus fields across Southeastern Washington." Last year, Del Monte contracted with canneries in Peru, where wages are far lower, allowing it to undercut Seneca's prices." Seneca, however, was the largest asparagus canner with "roughly half — an estimated 28 million pounds — of Washington's $30 million asparagus crop for General Mills' Green Giant label." The Tri-City Herald also reports on the plant closing and quotes Schreiber saying that "U.S. growers and processors have been battered for the past seven years by federal trade preferences for Peru." According to the newspaper, "the federal policy that helps Peru export its low-priced asparagus to the United States is supposed to help wean that South American country's struggling economy from illegal coca production, but it has pinched domestic asparagus producers." See also: 'Tensions Over Asparagus' in May 1's, 'Asparagus Wars' in April 11's and 'No Asparagus?' in February 6's Peruvia.

Mining Gets the Tax, cont.: Follow-up stories on the congressional approval of the mining levy continue today. Reuters quotes mining analyst Luis Bravo saying, "Although this bill has to be reviewed by the executive branch, which would probably reject it, we consider that it is only a matter of time for it to become law." The Miami Herald uses yesterday's Associated Press story with a few added details: "The unicameral legislature on Thursday defined the tax -- 1% on mining company sales up to US$60 million, 2% on sales from US$60 million to US$120 million and 3% on sales over US$120 million." Additional quotes come from Leopoldo Scheelje (CONFIEP's president) and Congressman Javier Diez Canseco. Reuters reports that Southern Peru Copper Corp. says their annual profits will be cut "by about US$20 million" because of the royalty plan approved by Congress. ALSO: Southern's president Oscar Gonzalez said they would "definitely not bid next month for the huge Las Bambas copper project if royalties went ahead, and at least two other projects would have to be reviewed." A separate Reuters story reports that investment brokerage Centura SAB said "it had raised Peru's top precious metals miner, Compania de Minas Buenaventura to a buy from hold after approval of a royalty plan in Congress." This came asa a result of the "falls in the company's shares over the past week made it an attractive bet." ALSO: Australia's ABC News reports that "BHP Billiton is fighting a new mining royalty affecting its operations in South America, after Peru approved a charge of up to 3%." It also notes that "Peru is the latest country in South America to announce a mining royalty, after Chile did the same six weeks ago." While BHP is "not expected to be affected by the Peruvian charge in the short-term" their royalty payment in Chile "is due to start in 2007."

Cerro Verde Gets A 'No': BNAmericas reports that CONASEV, Peru's securities regulator, "has rejected the environmental impact study for a sulfide expansion project at the Cerro Verde copper mine, owned by US miner Phelps Dodge" and located in Arequipa. In turn, the company stated that "Cerro Verde is reviewing the resolution to determine what action is necessary." They also will "have to take into consideration a sliding scale 1-3% royalty on the value of mineral concentrates sold, approved by Peru's Congress on June 3." IN SPANISH: The letter of rejection.

AToledo Comes in Last: Canada's Centre for Public Opinion and Democracy reviews the poll undertaken by the Barómetro Iberoamericano de Gobernabilidad where poll takers through Latin America asked: 'How would you rate the performance of your country's president?' "Alejandro Toledo of Peru garnered the poorest ratings, with less than 10% while Argentina's Néstor Kirchner was the best-rated head of state in Latin America. These latest numbers are not yet on their site but you can see the 2003 poll in which Peru came in fourth from the bottom.

Rating the Economy, cont.: The Miami Herald includes a summary of yesterday's outlook by Fitch Ratings [Peruvia readers can use 'Peruvia' as the username] including a quote by the author of the report Therese Feng: ''Fiscal consolidation has been achieved in spite of a challenging political climate, which has helped to stabilize Peru's high indebtedness and enhance the credibility of fiscal management.'' The report questions Toledo's ability to finish his term and makes an anonymous dig at APRA presidential candidate Alan Garcia: "... President Alejandro Toledo will serve out the remainder of his term, though a scenario involving impeachment cannot be ruled out. ... [T]he existence of a major contender in the presidential elections who followed a heterodox policy path as president in the late 1980s increases uncertainty about economic policy beyond 2006."

Smoking Peruvian Cigars: Reuters runs a story on cigar-maker Tabacalera del Oriente, based in Tarapoto, which "only started selling its tobacco in 2001 but its fans already include U.S. President George W. Bush and King Juan Carlos of Spain." The piece is pegged on an interview with Nicola Felice Aquilano who started Tabacalera del Oriente in 1997 with $2 million and "produced just 300,000 hand-rolled cigars last year, compared with Cuba's 300 million a year." However, they aim "to produce 1 million cigars by 2005 and 5 million cigars by 2008, generating annual sales of $15 million." ALSO: "Cigarette consumption in Peru is low compared with the rest of Latin America." The names for its three cigar brands: Jose de San Martin, Admiral Miguel Grau and the Lord of Sipan. Reuters also offers photos of the fields and the rollers. IN SPANISH: See some advertisements from the company.

UN Special Rapporteur Comes To Lima: According to a United Nations' press release, Paul Hunt, the Special Rapporteur of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights "on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, will visit Peru at the invitation of the Government from 7 to 15 June 2004." ALSO: "He will focus on issues related to access to health services and goods, in particular for marginalized groups -- including indigenous peoples -- and rural communities. ... He will also consider donor financing and the role of international financial institutions."

Evo Passes Through Lima: The Associated Press reports, through two photographs, the arrival of Bolivian indigenous leader and Congressman Evo Morales at his news conference in Lima today. On a stopover in the Lima airport on his way to Ecuador, Morales "denounce[d] a Peruvian congressman who said weapons were allegedly found in a Lima port heading to insurgents working for the Bolivian leader." The Congressman he named was Xavier Barron (Unidad Nacional). He blamed this on "lies being spread by the U.S. government to discredit him." IN SPANISH: See also this piece in El Comercio.

Red Cross Visits AGuzmán: The Associated Press reports that the Red Cross will visit Abimael Guzman "who is weak and bedridden because of a hunger strike," according to his lawyer Manuel Fajardo. The story mentions that "Abimael Guzmán and his former lover Elena Iparraguirre began refusing food on May 3 in a bid for amnesty for leftist insurgents." See May 5's Peruvia for news at the beginning of the hunger strike.

Pneumonia Kills in Cuzco: Xinhua Net reports that "over 30 children under five have been killed by pneumonia caused by cold current in the central region of Cusco since April," according to the Ministry of Health. "More than 790 people have contracted pneumonia and 36,200 others suffered from serious respiratory diseases in the area."

MEDCO Bought by IVAX: Florida-based pharmaceutical IVAX put out a press release to announce their acquisition of acquired Medco, "a Peruvian pharmaceutical company, with headquarters in Lima. Medco develops, manufactures and sells branded over-the-counter and prescription products, as well as generic prescription drugs." According to Roberto Prego, vice-president IVAX Latin America, “Medco is a company with a superior reputation and management which will be an important addition to IVAX’ operations in Latin America. The combination of Medco with our existing company in Peru will create the fourth largest company in this growing pharmaceutical market."

Huawei's Success: Huawei, a Chinese high-tech enterprise which specializes in research and development, production and marketing of communications, put out a press release to announce they "successfully participated in the Telecommunication Congress which was held by the Ministry of Transport and Communication in Peru. ... In the exhibition, Vice Minister Pacheco tested a call himself on Huawei CDMA450 system. Huawei's CDMA450 system was the highlight in the exhibition."

Peru vs. Venezuela on June 6: The Associated Press and Reuters offers several pictures of Team Peru in preparation of the World Cup qualifying match against Venezuela on June 6. Photos include Coach Paulo Autori, Jefferson Farfan, Nolberto Solano; Martin Hidalgo and Pedro Garcia (with watches on?); and Garcia and Hidalgo.

From Riding to Cutting: The Courier Times (near Philadelphia) profiles former Peruvian Jockey Francisco Calderon in a story pegged on this weekend's horse races at the Belmont Stakes in New York. Calderon was a jockey for 20 years which "affords him a unique perspective and the luxury of fully understanding." As the owner of "Newtown's Pizzazz Hair Salon," the story has this twist: "Once touted with accolades as a jockey, Calderon gave up riding racehorses to beautify women and defeat men in hand-to-hand competition."

Chasqui Charity: The Chasqui Humanitarian hosts its 4th Annual Chasqui International Golf Classic today at Thanksgiving Point Golf Club. (They were originally named the Andean Children's Foundation.)

Eating in the USA: The Los Angeles Times reviews Kikiryki and the Washington Post reviews (again) The Nibbler.

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