Friday, January 23, 2004

Trouble Reading Peruvia? Press 'F11' key near top of your key board twice.

Patten: Andes 'Problematic' : EU Politix reports that EU's External Relations commissioner Chris Patten is in Ecuador engaging in a "South American trade deal." The article suggests that Mercosur will be less "problematic" to negotiate with than the Andean community. The Financial Times runs a related story and Reuters has a photograph of Patten with Allan Wagner, Secretary of Andean Union of Nations and Manuel Rodriguez Cuadros, Vice Foreign Minister of Peru."

Ecologically Correct:
- The Wildlife Conservation Society has announced the reciept of an USD$8 million grant from the Moore Foundation to protect Amazon-Andes landscapes which will include the Yavari Miri area in Peru.
- A travel piece in Australia's Sydney Morning Herald presents an adventure in Madre de Dios and begins, "We could have been killed five times before lunch." The piece is quaint yet rollicking and includes time spent at Lake Sandoval, and includes Amazonian sounds which "conspire to make you feel you're on the edge of a South American coup." (The article is a reprint of a piece from last fall.)

Music Events:
- The New York Times highlights maestro Carlos Hayre performance tonight in New York City. This rare appearance will be accompanied with singer Mochi Parra and "a group of musicians and dancers from Peru and Chile." It's all happening tonight at 8 pm at the Center for Traditional Music and Dance.
- The New York Times reports that Juan Diego Flórez is performing Sunday at 2pm at Lincoln Center in his "New York recital debut" in which "he'll show off in selections from operas by Bellini, Rossini, Gluck and Donizetti."

- South Africa's News 24 reports from Johannesburg about "[a] 29-year-old woman from Peru ... arrested on Friday" as 1.5kg of cocaine was allegedly found inside yoghurt containers.
- Florida's Palm Beach Post has a piece on changes in security measures "prompted by the fear" that the murderer of Monica Marina Rivera Valdizan is still "roaming the area." The paper also runs an op-ed which declares that "[t]he murder of a 26-year-old Peruvian nanny in suburban Boca Raton this month has sparked a level of concern -- and wild speculation -- that is rare."

- a short photo/story from the Associated Press depicts the Chinese New Year's celebration in Lima, beginning the 'Year of the Monkey.' "In Peru, where people of Chinese ethnicity make up about 10% of the population, festivities included dances and a march through Lima's historic downtown."
- OneWorld, a "civil society network online," has an op-ed on "Privatizing the lives of the poor" which includes notes on Arequipa and Tumbes.
- Florida's Gainesville Sun reports on the possibility of the best-selling novel 'The Celestine Prophecy' becoming a movie. Curiously, it includes this bit: "The Peruvian government and the Roman Catholic church [tried] to get the manuscript, believing its message undermines traditional family values." More information at Celestine Vision.


Thursday, January 22, 2004

Montesinos' Colorado Trial: Denvers' Rocky Mountain News focuses on a second Montesinos-related trial in which "[a] federal judge in Denver has thrown out French businessman Patrick Maugein's racketeering, investor fraud and libel lawsuit against Newmont Mining Corp. "Maugein's 2-year-old lawsuit, in which he sought $25 million, alleged Denver-based Newmont and Peru's Buenaventura Mining Co. Inc. paid former spy chief Vladimiro Montesinos millions of dollars in an extortion scheme to get Peruvian judges to rule favorably" on the companies behalf. This ruling follows the dismissal seven months ago of a similar investor-fraud suit Maugein filed in Peru.

Fujimori's Trial: Bloomberg reports that Agence France Press reports that "Peru's Congress Accuses Fujimori Over Murder Case." The case referred to is the 1992 murder of Pedro Huilca, a labor union leader, Agence France-Presse reported. As AFP states, "Congress issued a constitutional accusation, a first step in a legal process against leading government officials."

Redeeming Value? A Starbucks Press Release announces the expansion of a "Partnership with Conservation International and Supports Innovative Verde Ventures Loan Fund ... to Reduce Challenges Facing Small-Scale Coffee Producers While Conserving the Environment." It suggests that this "collaboration has produced significant benefits for habitat conservation and farmer livelihoods" in Peru, among other places. There is also a note about a "a high quality coffee" called Starbucks Peru. NOTE: Compare this New York Times piece about Starbucks opening up a branch in Paris with the opening in Lima referenced in Peruvia, Jan 16 in Surreal Coffee.

Macro/Micro Econ:
- Just-Drinks.com reports that "Backus & Johnston saw its beer sales jump 3.0% in 2003" and this despite a tax increase. The piece uses Dow Jones and El Comercio information.
- the seventh Annual Survey of Mining Companies was released today by the Fraser Institute which placed Peru among the top five jurisdictions "for overall investment appeal." (cf. p. 11 in the
Full Report.)
- a Reuters piece reports that SEDAPAL is now rationing water in Lima "after low rainfall." Practical Terms: no flow "from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. until rains replenished supplies in the mountains."

- Ghana Web reports that "[t]he Government has obtained a 20.5 million-dollar loan from the World Bank to finance the first phase of Ghana Land Administration Programme, President John Agyekum Kufuor told Parliament on Thursday. ... He said the idea of using land as a source of wealth was introduced by Professor De Soto of Peru."
- Kyodo News reports that "Japanese immigration authorities have granted special resident status to a family of three Peruvians, reversing their earlier decision to revoke that status in the absence of any blood ties to a Japanese person." This was the result of the Network for Foreigners' Assistance. NOTE: There is no update on the Sandivar families' deportation in Florida. See "On (Not) Entering the USA" in Peruvia, Jan 15.
- In a new Zogby Poll on religious identity among Americans, it discovered that "[a]mong Peruvian Catholics, there is only about a 10 percentage point difference between the responses of people over 50 and those between 18 and 29 on questions about the importance of religious involvement or about how essential the Virgin Mary is to one's religious life, according to Zogby. And Peruvian Catholics of different generations were equally likely to place a high value on the importance of bishops and priests to the life of the church."
- Canada's Edmonton Sun has a profile on Raffi Torres, a top player (#14) on the Edmonton Oilers' professional hockey team. The last sentence of the article reveals his Peruvian roots. (See this Toronto Sun from 2000 for more background.)
- Pittsburgh's Tribune-Review praises Henry Ian Cusick, a Peruvian-born member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, for his role as Jesus in the new movie, The Gospel of John. The 34-year old actor was born in Trujillo. (Note: The Toronto Sun ran a review late last year.)

The Reviews:
- BILLBOARD magazine reviews Peru Negro's new album 'Jolgorio:' "the music is celebratory and beautifully performed." (For Concert information and more, see "Peru Negro" on Peruvia, Jan 19.)
- he New York Times gives its official movie review to 'Touching the Void,' which labels it 'disappointing' with "staged, pseudo-documentary sequences."
- the Washington Times also reviews the 'Touching the Void' and says: "what a story it is, the kind of whopper that might not fly if told as straight fiction." Both reviews refer to this mountaineering as an "extreme sport." For a distinctly different take in the New York Times, see its weekend review in 'The Mountain' in Peruvia, Jan. 19.

- In Pan American Health Organization's Perspectives in Health Magazine, in "Battling over Technology," the author reviews on Peru's views on genetically modified crops.
- A food column in the Detroit News declares that "peanuts were held in such high esteem by the ancient Peruvians that they buried pots of peanuts with their mummified dead to nourish them during their long journey to the hereafter. Those Peruvians were very smart."


Wednesday, January 21, 2004

VMontesinos: A few more join the chorus of Montesinos stories today (see "A Man With Two Valdivias" in Peruvia, Jan. 20 below). The New York Times offers its own Montesinos piece today with a piece by Juan Forero, reporting from Bogota. Fortunately, the Times reporter was able to get Ronald Gamarra, the special prosecutor in the case, on the telephone last night for some quotes. Gamarra "said the tribunal would seek additional testimony from the director of central intelligence, George J. Tenet, and the C.I.A. officer in Lima at the time, Robert Gorelick." (Updated stories in Lima say these conversations are unlikely.) The NYTimes' piece has additional details as to what the CIA does and does not assume responsibility for. The United Press International also has a new piece and while today's Washington Post and the Miami Herald print editions include brief versions of the AP story.
Note: Some photographs of the VMontesinos trial are posted by several news wire organizations.

"We're Worried.": Reuters has an ominous piece on Interior Minister Fernando Rospigliosi who warns "that unnamed troublemakers could use a coca growers conference next month [Feb. 18-20] to spark a violent uprising like the ['Bolivianazo']." Reuters attributes Canal N, El Correo, and CPN Radio as sources for the story. Said Rospigliosi: "We're worried." (Reuters' had a similar angle yesterday. See "Poll Ratings" in Peruvia, Jan 20 below.)

De Soto: #1: At the World Economic Forum, presently underway in Davos, Switzerland, former USA President Bill Clinton stated that development initiatives that deserve to 'systematized' include a campaign led by Hernando de Soto to guarantee property rights to the poor. Said Clinton, "De Soto is probably the most important living economist."

Macro/Micro Econ:
- Dow Jones reports that "Peruvian negotiators for a free-trade deal with the U.S. will meet with their Colombian counterparts in Bogota this week." Included in the talks wil be 'observers' from Ecuador; formal negotiations with the U.S. will "start in the second quarter of the year."
- Business News Americas reports on the call for bids for "water utilities EPS Grau in northern Piura department and Emfapa in neighboring Tumbes department." Concessions will be for 30 years.
- Business Newswire updates the announcement by Embonor that it has reached an agreement to sell its 60.45% stake to Jose R. Lindley S.A. for US$130 million.

BolPeChi, Cont.: The Knight Ridder news service offers this headline from Arica: "Bolivians want ocean access lost in war with Chile." (The Knight-Ridder story is accompanied by several photos the first of which is a delightful highway sign.) The piece offers quotes from both sides (Chile: "This cost us blood, sweat and tears, and we will not give it back." Bolivia: Someone singing 'La Cancion Litoral'.), as wells as notes from "secret negotiations with four Bolivian presidents since 2000." The story suggest that there is "global sympathy for Bolivia" but ends on an odd note: "If Chile gives land back to Bolivia, why wouldn't Mexico seek a return of land lost to the United States?" Meanwhile, United Press International has a story about "Bolivian lawmakers are adamant about regaining territorial access to the Pacific Ocean from neighboring Chile" with a seemingly clear Chilean bias.

- Seattle Weekly reviews 'Touching the Void' and declares that "the aerial photography over Peru is quite breathtaking." (See "The Mountain" in Peruvia, Jan 18 and "Touching the Void" in Peruvia, Dec 18 for more reviews, clips, etc.)
- Dias de Santiago is one of the 16 films selected for a competition at Rotterdam's 33rd International Film Festival today, says the Bangladeshi Daily Star.

LDiCaprio in Peru, II: The Washington Post's new gossip columnist catches up with Leonardo DiCaprio "[s]omewhere in the Peruvian Andes." (See "Leonardo Siting" in Peruvia, Dec 30 for more details of his visit.)

Tragedy, Again: A wire story reports: "Twenty killed as bus plunges off cliff" on a road between Cuzco and Abancay. Abancay is "only 62 miles west of Cuzco, [but] the winding route takes about six hours."


Tuesday, January 20, 2004

A Man With Two Valdivias: Agence France Press, the Associated Press, the BBC, the Financial Times, Pravda, Reuters, and even the Voice of America all write up their own courtroom scene with Vladimiro Montesinos as the defendant "on charges he directed a scheme to parachute-drop 10,000 assault rifles into the hands of Colombian guerrillas." This is his fifth trial; he faces nearly 80 charges; and prosecutors are seeking a 20-year sentence. And both the leading prosecutor and the defense's lawyer have the same surname: Valdivia. Now for some differentiation:
- AFP is the only one to publish Estela Valdivia's denial that "she is pregnant with Montesinos' child," as well as the only one to include references to Charles Acelor and Yevgen Nepochatov, a Ukrainian who Peruvian authorities believe is involved in the case. On the CIA connections/allegations, AFP says there is no "factual proof."
- the AP's Drew Benson suggests that Vladi is bothered by the "mosquito-infested room" he has to use to speak with his lawyer.
- the BBC's Hannah Hennessy suggests she has an exclusive: "A Peruvian state prosecutor, Luis Valdivia, told the BBC that press reports of CIA involvement in the case would be also investigated."
- the FT's Mark Mulligan adds that the trial was two hours late and that Vladi was accompanied by co-defendants (and brothers) Jose Luis and Luis Frank Aybar. This piece also suggests that Fujimori was "manipulated by Mr Montesinos through a web of extortion, political favours and state-sponsored violence."
- Pravda's Hernan Etchaleco has this headline: "Operation Siberia links the CIA to Colombian narcos" and it seems there is no doubt: "The Peruvian former prominent official in the nineties was a close collaborator of the CIA to fight drug trafficking in South America. ... After allegations became known CIA agents in Washington refused to answer questions to news agencies saying the issue was under due legal process." Pravda is also the only one to include Vladi's middle name: Lenin. (Somehow, a Reuters' interview with Interior Minister Fernando Rospigliosi is also included ... but not in Reuters' pieces.)
- Reuters' Jude Webber, (the only one to file a preview: see "The Spy" in Peruvia, Jan. 18 below), datelines his story, "Callao Naval Base," and is the only one to state the value of the arms deal ($750,000). He gives the brothers Aybar Cancho their full names and Webber also declares: "A key question will be: how much did the CIA know? ... Investigators say CIA agents have refused questions about the matter and a spokeswoman in Washington declined comment."
- in a slightly different Reuters filing, Jude Webber starts off with a profile of Vladi and his lawyer, headlining, "Montesinos Lawyer Says Peru Treatment Is 'Torture.' " Estela Valdivia complains about the conditions of the prison and the cubicle she uses to communicate with Vladi but Webber is clear that they were "built to Montesinos' own design." This version ends with Valdivia stating: "Yes, the CIA was involved, and my client too -- but it was to break up this criminal ring."

Poll Ratings: A Reuters semi-opinion piece by Robin Emmott offers a full scan of AToledo's poor polling using quotes from the (wo)man on the street as well as Augusto Alvarez (Peru.21), Manuel Saavedra (CPI), and Juan Jose Gorriti (CGTP).
- the highpoint of the article: "Many Peruvians saw the allegations against [Beatriz] Merino as an unfounded smear campaign."
- the oddest hypothesis: AToledo is "much more vulnerable to prolonged strikes and major protests of the kind that toppled Bolivia's President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada in October."
- the oddest quote comes from Datum's Manuel Torrado: "If [Toledo] can get through the first few months of the year, when protests are statistically most common, he should be able to survive."
- the simple problem/solution: Toledo packed his cabinet "with loyal Peru Posible party allies rather than capable independents."
- the height of irony: Emmott reports all this from Pachacutec, Peru, "on the desert fringes of Peru's capital."
Inside a separate Reuters piece on the Davos Conference, ("Defiant Latin American leaders snub dinero of Davos"), Robin Emmott slips in this bit: "The latest cancellation came this weekend from Peru's Toledo, wallowing in a low popularity rating of 10 percent halfway through his term. Rubbing elbows with the elite in the snowy Alps may not go down well at home. 'Toledo is not going to Davos because he now realizes the precariousness of his situation,' said Giovanna Penaflor, political analyst for CPN Radio. 'It is definitely the right decision.' "

- Dow Jones reports that the JNE voted to remove Freddy Ghilardi as president of the Ancash region. The region's vice president Eloy Ricardo Narvaez will assume the presidency until 2006. Both Ghilardi and Narvaez are members of Apra. Official Reason: Ghilardi had failed to attend half a dozen regional council session meetings. Unofficial Reason: reports had also said he had misused government funds.
- Reuters reports that "Peru may delay launching bank tax" according to an interview with Economy Minister Jaime Quijandria with El Comercio yesterday.

On Funiculars: In a piece by Swiss Info on "the quest for sustainable tourism" at the World Social Forum, a large-scale conference on eco-tourism, counts David Ugarte Vega Centeno, of the "National Cultural Institute of Peru," as a participant. However, the 'Institute' is of Cuzco, not Peru, and he somehow suggests that Macchu Pichu's "tourism is controlled by a single company, which owns the railway line and airline that brings people to the Inca city." He also rejects wholeheartedly the building of a 'funicular.'

The Mountain, Cont.: New York's Village Voice and the the Los Angeles Times review "Touching the Void" positively. Says the VVoice: the movie "unexpectedly bridges genres—it's a buddy movie, a horror story, a boy's-own adventure, and a near metaphysical meditation on the limits of human endurance." (See "The Mountain" in Peruvia, Jan 18. below.)

International Relations:
- South Africa's News24 notes that on this day in 1839, "Chile wins Battle of Yungay against Peru-Bolivian Federation, resulting in dissolution of that union."
- Indonesia's Laksamana reports that Peru is one of the 15 countries exempted from their new visa fees.


Monday, January 19, 2004

PeruNegro: The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel previews music CDs released tomorrow including the latest offering from Afro-Peruvian troupe Peru Negro, whose latest offering "traces the evolution of contemporary black music styles in its land on the oft-explosive 'Jolgorio' (translated roughly as 'a state of celebratory frenzy.') Earlier, Knight Ridder had given it "a "B-plus." You can see the press release as well as hear sound samples of Jolgorio as well as see tour dates from Peru Negro's redesigned website which includes West Coast and East Coast dates in North America over the next 10 weeks.

Some Views from Above: Two American news sources carry stories that paint Peru in an unsavory light, in the context of changing immigration policies in the USA. The Robesonian (from North Carolina) quotes somebody saying that "Bush's plan refers only to Hispanic people from Mexico. But the illegals in this country are from all over South and Central America. That's why an illegal from Peru carries an ID saying he's from Mexico. If INS busts someone from Mexico, they're sending him to a border town in Texas, then back to Mexico, where they can just walk right back into this country. If they bust someone from Peru, they're shipping him to Lima. 'You do the math on how much more expensive it is to send someone to Peru as opposed to Texas.' " An editorial from something called Michigan News somehow relates the condition of the Rimac River to the type of immigrant that arrives in the USA.

Eco-Tourism: The New York Times runs a piece on ecotourism in Ecuador. However, the piece includes bits on Posada Amazonas (located in Madre de Dios) which, among other ecotourism lodges, has "sparked intense interest from such divergent groups as the World Bank, the Japanese government and environmental groups like Conservation International." The piece also quotes Dr. Amanda Stronza, an anthropologist whose focus has been on "community-based conservation and sustainable development in the Amazon."

- Martin Chambi gets a nice, if short, note today in this 'About' blog.
- MercoPress picks up a bit on Richard Ralph, the British Ambassador in Lima, and the threats to his Embassy over the New Years holidays.
- The Thoroughbred Times reports that "Peru's reigning champion grass mare, Rioja, scored a comfortable victory in the traditional Clasico Ciudad de Lima on Sunday at Hipodromo de Monterrico."

Inca Flames?: Arizona's Daily Star has a piece titled, 'Cleansing with Inka fire' on people who "gather each month beneath the full moon to participate in an Inca-inspired ritual that helps them banish pain and invite joy into their lives" in the monthly Inka Full Moon Fire Ceremony.

BolPeChi, Cont.: The Miami Herald runs an op-ed by Cuban Carlos Alberto Montaner on "Chile offers Bolivia best chance possible to reach the Pacific." The piece does not stop with unsubtle Chilean bias but twists history suggesting that the Bolivian/Chilean/Peruvian disputes began over some changes in Bolivian tax policies. He concludes saying that the Chilean offer "[n]o doubt, ... is not a totally satisfactory solution for the Bolivians, but it is better to renounce all unreal territorial claims, which only increase the people's frustrations, than to renounce one's common sense."

The Mountain, Cont.: The Washington Post also offered a review of 'Touching the Void' (see "The Mountain" in yesterday's Peruvia below) which is a more personal piece, and makes the movie much more of a psycho-drama than other reviews. It also includes the director saying that he "ignored the book" and "cut the script from ... interviews."


Sunday, January 18, 2004

The Spy: Reuters' Jude Webber files an full update on Vladimiro Montesinos who returns to "court on Tuesday to face the most serious charges against him to date: that he planned a huge gunrunning operation to Colombian FARC rebels in the late 1990s." The piece concludes that "[t]he case has all the elements of an international spy thriller." Also included: Jordan, Brazil, 'Siberia,' "evidence points to CIA support of Montesinos" (which refers to the lead story in today's El Comercio). While Vladi has been in jail since 2001, it is important to note that "sentences in Peru are not consecutive."
A separate Reuters bit (JWebber with help by Teresa Cespedes) offers a timeline of the legal labyrinth.

The Mountain: The New York Times runs an enthusiastic endorsement of "Touching the Void," the new docu-drama based on Joe Simpson's book of the same title. The movie relates the true story of the 1985 scaling of the unclimbed west face of Siula Grande. The writer, an editor for Outside Magazine, says that "[i]t's only taken three decades to make another" good movie in this genre. Today's New York Daily News also gives it two thumbs up.
[NOTE: See "Touching the Void" in Dec 9 Peruvia for the British reviews, a movie trailer, and information on the Cordillera Huayhuash.]

The Car: Associated Press offers a colourful note on the possible demise of the Tico Taxi which faces new government safety rules in February "that threaten to put it out of the taxi business." The piece offers numbers ("tens of thousands of struggling Peruvians [pay] $9 to rent the cars for 12-hour shifts"), defines 'Super Ticos,' highlights the Tico which placed in the 2002 Road of the Incas Road Rally, among the 80,000 Daewoos in Peru.

The Man: The January issue of Opera News has Juan Diego Flórez as their cover boy who is about to make another splash in February portraying Lindoro in L'Italiana in Algeri at the Metropolitan Opera. (JDF turned 31 last week.) The piece includes other illustrious Peruvian names such as Luigi Alva, Ernesto Palacio, and, of course, Ruben Flórez. Tonight, JDF sang in Genoa's Teatro Carlo Felice.
Other news items on JDF in the last few days:
- the Kansas City Star highlights the Peruvian tenor in advance of his appearance there this week.
- the music critic of South Carolina's Post and Courier asks: "Is he the best tenor in the world?"
[NOTE: For all the JDF info you may need, see this outstanding JDF fansite by Jean Peccei. You can see JDF in this Verdi's Falstaff DVD.]

Chachapoyas: The Washington Post offers a piece on Chachapoyas ostensibly as a Travel piece but it belongs more in the adventure-type writing. He includes references to the Discovery Channel's piece on Leymebamba as well as this delightful book, "Warriors of the Clouds," by Keith Muscutt. The piece does not refer to Muscutt's Chachapoyas.com.

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