Thursday, July 29, 2004

Toledo's Account(s): The Associated Press, the BBC, Reuters, and the Voice of America review President Toledo's speech before Congress to the nation and they all agree on the the main point: the invitation to "government auditors to review all of [Toledo's] bank accounts." AP reporter Drew Benson describes him as "beleaguered" and "facing allegations of corruption" and the AP offers a photograph of the president holding up "letters he said he sent to investigators 'to review my personal and joint wealth and lift the privacy on my bank accounts in Peru and worldwide'." Reuters offers similar photographs and notes that the President requested "a revision of my personal and conjugal position and for my bank secrecy to be lifted in Peru and the world." CITED: Caretas, El Comercio, Margarita Toledo, Pedro Toledo, Eliane Karp, and State Attorney Julia Principe who declared, "We have asked for bank secrecy to be lifted on Mrs. Karp's accounts, and for her to be barred from leaving the country, over the CONAPA investigation." (CONAPA is the National Commission of Indigenous, Amazon and Afroperuvian Peoples, whose funds Karp allegedly mishandled.) NOTE: "Toledo also called for a special assembly to reform Peru's constitution."

Free Trade? Bloomberg reports that "the Peruvian government, in negotiations for a free trade accord with the U.S., offered to immediately eliminate tariffs on some U.S. imports in exchange for an end to U.S. quotas and tariffs on Peru's sugar exports." Said Vice Minister of Foreign Relations Pablo de la Flor (who is also Peru's chief trade negotiator), "What we really want is to conquer the U.S. sugar market.'' NOTE: "Peru offered to eliminate all tariffs on 41% of the products imported from the U.S., accounting for the 37% of the value of the imports." DETAILS: "Sugar was Peru's second-biggest agricultural commodity export, as it sold 60,000 metric tons, worth $19.2 million, abroad last year. The country exported $181 million of coffee."

Camisea Delayed? The InterPress Service reports (and OneWorld reproduces) that "environmental and human-rights groups in the United States and Peru have launched a last-ditch effort to delay final approval as early as this week by the Inter-American Development Bank of [the US$1.6 billion Camisea Gas Project] which they say threatens the destruction of some of the world's most unique rainforests and the survival of some of Latin America's last isolated indigenous populations." NOTE: "In letters to the U.S. Treasury, which represents Washington on the IDB's executive board, and IDB president Enrique Iglesias, the groups, which include Amazon Watch, and Friends of the Earth argue that the Camisea Gas Project has failed to meet both the letter and spirit of several conditions attached by the Bank on its agreement to provide a $130 million loan to support the project." ALSO: "Under strong pressure from environmental and rights groups and lawmakers in Congress, the administration, which holds 30 percent of the voting power on the IDB board, abstained in last September's vote. Many groups had expected Treasury to cast a 'no' vote, particularly because the U.S. Export-Import Bank, citing environmental concerns, had rejected a request by the Camisea consortium for a $214 million loan guarantee the week before." CITED: Nadia Diaz (Institute for Policy Studies) and Aaron Goldzimer (Environmental Defense).

Food for Puno: Reuters reports that "the U.N. food aid agency [the World Food Programme] has begun delivering $180,000 in supplies to 17,000 people in Peru's high southern Andes after the worst frost and snowstorms in 30 years killed livestock and wiped out crops. "

Travel Tips: The National Geographic news site offers travel tips to Peru by "three National Geographic explorers—archaeologist Johan Reinhard, author Karin Muller, and explorer Peter Frost [who] share their favorite places and best advice for making the most of this diverse land." Reinhard (the discoverer of "Juanita") offers tips on Machu Picchu, Arequipa, and the Cordillera Blanca region. Muller (author of 'Along the Inca Road') points to Cajamarca and the northern Huaringas area. Finally, Frost (who discovered the Inca settlement Qoriwayrachina) recommends Tambopata-Candamo Reserve and Manu National Park. ALSO: "The town of Lambayeque itself hosts the newly opened Royal Tombs of Sipán Museum. Housing artifacts of the Moche people, the museum is designed like one of their pyramids." NOTE: A special warning for USA citizens against using [the defunct] AeroContinente.

Measuring Interest? The Miami Herald's Andres Oppenheimer notes that interest in the USA's Democratic party convention is low in Latin America. "And the event's opening night was not even mentioned on the covers of Argentina's influential daily La Nacion, or the mass-circulation Clarin. Nor did it appear on the front page of Peru's leading daily, El Comercio." (Editorial Note: This seems to be an odd way to measure interest in an international affair, particularly in the case of Peru which is celebrating a news-heavy Independence Day.)

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