Saturday, August 20, 2005

Editorial: Today's Peruvia leads with the two most-widely published stories in today’s news on Peru around the world: articles on the death of Edgar Vera at the hands of police in Texas and a lethal bus accident in Huanuco.

Death in Texas: The Associated Press (see longer version here) and the Dallas Morning News follow up on the death of Edgar A. Vera Morante in Arlington, Texas after being pepper-sprayed by Allen police. (The USA Embassy in Lima offered condolences through a short press release, though not on their English-language site.) "The FBI is conducting a civil-rights investigation. The Texas Rangers are looking at whether there was criminal misconduct. And the Allen police are performing an internal investigation. The officers involved have been placed on paid administrative leave." NOTE: "Peruvian government officials met with Allen police and the Vera family last week to discuss the internal investigation." ALSO: "The father of two boys was in Allen on August 4, waiting outside another family member's house and minding his own business, relatives said. Police, however, say they responded to a suspicious person call and, after arriving, learned that Vera had an outstanding warrant for a seatbelt violation." NOTE: "The incident drew international attention last week when Eduardo Rivoldi Nicolini, Peru's Houston-based general consul, visited family and authorities in Texas." ALSO: "About 50 protesters stood outside the U.S. Embassy in Lima on August 12 to protest Vera's treatment. ... Jorge Lazaro, secretary of Peruvian Communities Abroad in the Foreign Ministry, said that Peru had sent letters to Texas police and the mayor of Allen reiterating the Andean nation's concern about Vera's death." See Also: For more information see yesterday’s Peruvia in the ‘People’ section.

Tragedy in Huanuco: The Associated Australian Press and agencies in South Africa and China report that "fourteen people were killed and nine injured when a bus plunged off a mountain road in [Huacaybamba, Huanuco] after its steering column broke, police said." NOTE: "Passengers were "returning home from visiting relatives and attending a local religious festival."

Rumsfeld in Lima: MecroPress reports on the two "drug control aircraft" that Secretary Rumsfeld left with the Peruvian government. The story includes some of Toledo’s interview with Radio Programas del Peru where he said Rumsfeld's visit was "extraordinarily productive because we examined the situation of Peru and Latin America with regard to democratic stability, governance and prospects for economic growth." NOTE: "Mr. Rumfeld’s visit has been linked to Washington’s increasing concern with Venezuelan ‘interference’ it neighbouring countries affairs." The Washington File (official State Department, USA) posts a story on Rumfeld’s Lima visit and offers another version of the transcript of the Toledo/Rumsfeld press conference. See Also: 'Rumfeld in Lima' in yesterday's Peruvia.

Rumsfeld in Lima Analyzed: The Council on Hemispheric Affairs (Washington) offers an essay "prepared" by Hampden Macbeth titled ‘Rumsfeld and Rice on Chávez: But Where’s the Beef?’ which includes commentary on the Lima visit. "Rumsfeld traveled to Peru yesterday where the current issue, unlike in Bolivia, is not the destabilizing of the political system but the instability of the political system after four years of failed political leadership by the country’s hapless president, Alejandro Toledo." The piece concludes that "the successive presidencies of Fujimori and Toledo raise serious questions about the future of democracy in Peru. ... Furthermore, given that current polls for next year’s presidential election indicate that no candidate is supported by more than 25 percent of the public, it is questionable whether any of the contenders will win a backing wide enough to effectively represent all stratum of the population ..." See Also: For other analyses, see "On Toledo" in yesterday’s Peruvia.

Rumsfelds Lima Secret: The Baraboo News Republic (Wisconsin, USA) has a columnist who thinks he has the inside scoop on Rumsfeld: "Don Rumsfeld visited Peru Wednesday just days after a government shakeup down there. He said he wants to strengthen U.S. ties with Latin America. He thinks we don't know that former Nixon aides always make sure they have a safe place to retire."




OTHER: The (North) Korean Central News Agency reports that "President Kim Il Sung's work ‘Let the North and the South Open the Way to Peace and the Reunification of the Country in a United Effort’ was brought out in pamphlet by a Peruvian publishing house to mark the 60th anniversary of Korea's liberation. The work is the talk with the delegates of the two sides to the Inter-Korean High-Level Talks on Feb. 20, Juche 81(1992). Read earlier KCNA press releases in Peruvia.


Friday, August 19, 2005

UPDATE: The USA Department of Defense has released a transcript of the press conference between President Alejandro Toledo and Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld. You can watch portions of the press conference on Peru.com. Highlights include:
- Toledo: "I want to thank you especially for your support in the fight against drug trafficking expressed in the donation of these two C-26 aircrafts. We, coca producer countries --which is later transformed into drug trafficking products-- need to get together to develop a strategy and immediately after meet with you, the consumer countries."
- Rumsfeld: "This press conference would be remiss if I do not mention the contribution that your country has made to the peacekeeping effort in Haiti. It is important, your troops and forces there have conducted themselves and told with great skill and success and it is an important contribution by Peru and the people of Peru to the stability and the goal of having stability dealt with in peaceful ways as we’re seeing take place there, so we thank you for that as well."

Rumsfeld in Lima: The New York Times offers an analysis piece (David St. Cloud reporting from Lima) ("Like Old Times: U.S. Warns Latin Americans Against Leftists") on Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's visit this week which "had the throwback feel of a mission during the cold war, when American officials saw their main job as bolstering the hemisphere's governments against leftist insurgencies and Communist infiltration." USA Perspective: "The American officials said they had some concern that the continuing strife made Peru vulnerable to destabilization by other countries or drug traffickers." Peruvian Perspective: "But Mr. Toledo appeared more interested in obtaining a free trade agreement with the United States to bolster his sagging political fortunes. Peruvian officials are also concerned about a resurgence in coca production in the last year and are worried about proposals in Congress to cut their anti-drug aid. Mr. Toledo and Mr. Rumsfeld said that the narcotics issue had been discussed in their meetings."
See Also:
"Rumsfeld in Peru Just Days After Shake-Up" (Associated Press, Liz Sidoti)
"Rumsfeld in Peru to Discuss Mutual Security Interests" (American Forces Press Service, Donna Miles)
"Peru urges US to sign trade pact to aid drug fight" (Reuters, Alistair Scrutton)
"Peru, US to strengthen anti-drug cooperation" (Xinhua News)
"US warns Castro and oil-rich ally" (Telegraph UK, Francis Harris)
See photographs by Agence France Press, the Associated Press, Associated Press, Reuters, Reuters, and the Associated Press (Rumsfeld with an ‘unidentified man’), the Agence France Press (Rumsfeld with huaco.)
[Editorial Note: There was some confusion but this was the first trip by a USA Defence Secretary to Peru though it was not the first time Rumsfeld has been there. Also, Reuters continues in error about who was at fault in shooting down the missionary plane.]

USA Cuts Aid: Separately, the New York Times runs a story (Juan Forero, still in Bogota) and an accompanying graphic that includes Peru being among the two dozen countries that have had their US aid cut because of a refusal to sign agreements to shield American citizens from any prosecution at the new International Criminal Court in The Hague. "The cuts are generating strong resentment at what many see as heavy-handed diplomacy." The academic challenging opinion comes from Bruce Broomhall (University of Quebec in Montreal) who "noted that for the court to act against a suspected war criminal, the prosecutor must satisfy the judges that the host country was ‘shielding the individual concerned from criminal responsibility’." NOTE: "Peru, a close Bush administration ally, has lost about $4 million. ‘You feel the cuts, yes,’ said Congressman Luis Ibérico, president of the committee that oversees military spending and the antidrug campaign. ‘These are small amounts, but nevertheless, they're necessary to support our military personnel.’ "

Trans Amazon Highway: The Engineering News-Record (CJ Schexnayder) reports that the "consortium of companies led by Brazilian construction giant Construtora Norberto Odebrecht has been awarded $892 million in contracts to build the Peruvian portion of a highway that will connect the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans in South America." The article provides a full review of the projects: it will require the "operation and maintenance of more than 1,000 kilometers of new asphalt roadways. The project will also require the construction of 22 new bridges including the $15-million, 2,360-foot Guillermo Billingurst Bridge that will span the Madre de Dios River at the jungle town of Puerto Maldonado." NOTE: "Consorcio Concesionario Interoceanica Inambari-Azangaro composed of Odebrecht Peru and the Peruvian companies Grana y Montero and JJ Camet won Section Three and Section Four. ConstortiumIntersur composed of Peruvian companies Construtora Andrade Gutierrez, Consructora Queiroz Galvao and Construcoe E. Comercio Camargo Correa won Section Two. The final two portions, Section One and Section Five, will include the revitalization of more than 1,575 kilometers of existing road are slated to be awarded in November." ALSO: "The entire project will include more than 2,600 kilometers of road and is expected to take two years to finish. Upon completion, the highway will create a passageway to three of Peru’s southern ports, San Juan de Marcoa in the Department of Ica, the Port of Matarani in the Department of Arequipa and the Port of Ilo in the Department of Moquega." See Also: 'Trans Amazon Highway' in August 12, 2004's Peruvia.

On Vladi: The Associated Press (Rick Vecchio?), the BBC (Hannah Hennessy), and Knight Ridder papers (like the San Jose Mercury News, Jack Chang) write on Montesinos, the "the balding, beak-nosed figure behind the country's feared intelligence network" whose trial "began Wednesday with a session devoted to arguments from his attorneys for a delay. It then adjourned until next week." (The Kansas City Star headlines the same story, ‘Trial raises specter of Peru executions.’) The Los Angeles Times offers a short snippet of this in their ‘In Brief’ column with ‘Ex-Spy Chief Goes on Trial on Rights Charges.’ The San Jose Mercury News adds a sidebar (from the BBC): "Just Who Is Vladimiro Montesinos?" And the BBC offers video of the protestors outside the court.

On Fuji: The Miami Herald (Tyler Bridges) leans away from the Vladi story and offers a piece on Alberto Fujimori launching his presidential candidacy from "the basement of a Tokyo hotel that doubles as the candidate's residence." NOTE: "Fujimori is now as popular as any of the other candidates, with polls showing him garnering about 20 percent of the vote." ALSO: "Peru's elections office is expected to settle whether Fujimori can run by Jan. 8, the final date in which presidential candidates can register for office. Fujimori declined to answer questions The Herald e-mailed to him." CITED: Fujimori supporters María Luisa Cruzado, José Chlimper, and Congressman Martha Moyano as well as pollster Manuel Torrado and special anti-corruption prosecutor Antonio Maldonado.

Filming Fuji: Knight Ridder’s story above reports that Fujimori’s "picture dominates magazine covers and movie marquees throughout Lima in response to a new documentary, ‘The Fall of Fujimori,’ by U.S. filmmaker Ellen Perry, that has renewed debate about his administration." (On the film, see IMDB, Variety, and festival coverage.)

On Grupo Colina: Nobody above peg their stories on the start of the trial of Santiago Martin Rivas, the head of the Grupo Colina death-squad, in a naval base in Callao. Instead, Reuters has several photographs as does the Associated Press of anti-Fujimori protestors as well of Martin Rivas. The BBC offers video of the protestors.

On Toledo: The Economist and the Economist Intelligence Unit offer analyses. The Economist takes Toledo to task with an article on the Olivera scandal with "Peru’s President, The Masochist: How not to reshuffle a cabinet" which begins, "If shooting oneself in the foot were an Olympic sport, Alejandro Toledo would win the gold medal. ... Pundits expected the president's popularity to carry on rising in the run-up to an election next April. All Mr Toledo had to do was nothing. That proved too much for him." NOTE: Mr Kuczynski "has presidential ambitions. Polls give him less than 5% support, and Peruvians tend not to vote for members of the country's white financial elite." The EIU concludes: "The public perception of Mr Toledo as bereft of political judgement will have been strengthened by the crisis. Mr Olivera's political hopes--which may have included a tilt at the presidency--will also have been severely damaged by the reaction to his cabinet appointment." (Earlier: IPS Services offers a slightly more nuanced analysis.)

On PPK: The Angus Reid Global Scan reviews the latest CPI poll and concludes that "Kuczynski Was First PM Choice for Peruvians" even though he was in a statistical tie with VP Waisman. The poll suggests that 41% of respondents in Metropolitan Lima say Pedro Pablo Kuczynski is qualified to take over as prime minister. Vice-president David Waisman is second on the list with 41%, followed by congressman Henry Pease with 26%, and labour minister Juan Sheput with 15%. NOTE: "Since taking office in July 2001, Toledo has had five different prime ministers: Roberto Dañino, Luis Solari, Beatriz Merino, Ferrero and Kuczynski."

Peruvian To Africa: The Ethiopian Herald and the African Union offered a press release on Peruvian Ambassador Harold Forsyth Mejía’s visit to the Assembly of the African Union and with Commissioner for Political Affairs Julia Dolly Joiner. "They held talks specifically concerning support of Africa for Peru's candidature to one of the Non-Permanent seats at the UN Security Council for the period 2006-2007." Forsyth is Ambassador to Italy and a special envoy.

Africans To Peru: Gambia’s Daily Observer reports that "President Yahya Jammeh has dispatched a fact-finding mission to Peru, ahead of his plan to sponsor Gambian fans to the FIFA Under-17 World Championship in Lima next month." NOTE: "The President’s envoy, Lt Col Lang Tombong Tamba, the GFA security chief and Gambia Armed Forces chief of staff, who left for Lima last week, will work out logistics and prepare the ground for more than hundred fans to be sponsored by the president to cheer the Gambian team throughout their stay in the competition."

Rocking MPicchu: La Raza magazine reports on Chilean new wave musical group Los Jaivos and their adventures in Peru including a Mario Vargas Llosa twist. "In the beginning of 1981, Daniel Caminos, a Peruvian friend and film producer in exile in France suggested to adapt ‘Alturas de Macchu Picchu’ from Pablo Neruda not only as an epic rock opera but also to perform it on TV on the village in the mountains itself. [On September 6] they travelled to Peru to finish the score. Chanel 13 of the Catholic University in Chile and Canal 7 in Peru participated, under direction of the Chilean Reinaldo Sepúlveda. Also the Peruvian government cooperated and the Air Force brought over the grand piano and instruments with helicopters. The group restored some instruments like the trutruca, a traditional instrument which resembles an Alpine horn." MVLl was a narrarator for the DVD.

Rocking Incas: The Washington Post and the Washington Blade review ‘The Royal Hunt of the Sun’ performed by the Washington Shakespeare Company. "Peter Shaffer's 1964 epic about the conquest of Peru finds the Washington Shakespeare Company in vintage form. Shaffer's vision is Shakespearean in pitch and scale, with Spanish conquistadors and Inca warriors squaring off in a play that shakes its fist at God." NOTE: "The original music by Mariano Vales, rich with mournful Peruvian flavor and sometimes sung by three women who form a kind of wandering chorus, adds to the sense of cinematic sweep."

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