Tuesday, May 02, 2006

For election updates, visit University of British Columbia's Max Cameron's blog.

HUMALA MEETS WALL ST: Reuters (Walter Brandimarte and Manuela Badawy) reports from New York on Humala’s inevitable encounter with Wall Street with "Peru's Humala may pose risk to democracy, not Wall St." It starts off ominously: "The front-runner in Peru's presidential election may be more of a threat to the nation's democratic institutions" but quickly finds a comforting line: "the risk of debt default by Peru are slim." NOTE: "Humala is surrounded by a team of prudent economic advisors, and will probably not jeopardize the country's macroeconomic stability, analysts said." And APRA’s Garcia gets a fresh view from New York: Garcia "is still viewed as a populist. But Wall Street believes he may have learned from the mistakes." QUOTED: Augusto Alvarez Rodrich (Peru.21); Christian Stracke (CreditSights); Gianfranco Bertozzi (Lehman Brothers) who sees both candidates as "seemingly neo-liberal"; and Neil Dougall (Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein) who seems to have read his Castaneda when he classify’s what type of leftist leader Garcia may be. The article still seems to leave a whisper of desire for Lourdes Flores, even with "99.97 percent of votes counted." Pedro Pablo Kuczynski ideas of "a coalition between Garcia's APRA and Flores' Unidad Nacional parties" seem to offer the comfort for bond and stock traders alike.

THE NUMBERS: An updated Reuters story from Lima with 99.97% of votes counted shows "left-of-center former President Alan Garcia almost certainly winning a place in a May or June runoff against nationalist Ollanta Humala." NOTE: Lourdes Flores requested "some 220,000 damaged ballot cards" to be reviewd. The numbers stand at Ollanta Humala, 30.62%; Alan Garcia, 24.32%; and Lourdes Flores, 23.80%.

THE NEW NUMBERS: Reuters also has a story on the Datum poll published in El Comercio which shows "Garcia with 56 percent support compared, to 44 percent support for Humala."

WAR OF WORDS: The Associated Press (Tamy Higa, Lima) reports that "Peru and Venezuela stepped up their diplomatic row on Monday, with a top Venezuelan official calling Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo the ‘office boy’ of President Bush." NOTE: "Venezuela Information Minister Willian Lara's attack on Toledo Monday came a day after Toledo criticized Venezuela's democracy." Lara explained that Toledo was "maybe looking for employment after he leaves the presidency of Peru." Toledo in turn "warned Monday that he will seek the ouster of Venezuela's ambassador from Peru if Chavez's government continues a stream of insults." Reuters, quoting Bolivian state news agency ABI, reports that Bolivian President Evo Morales "invited nationalist Peruvian candidate Ollanta Humala on Sunday to visit Bolivia, after Peru withdrew its ambassador to Caracas because of Venezuela's comments backing Humala's bid for the presidency." El Universal (Caracas) reports that Colombia President Álvaro Uribe will not "take part in Venezuela-Peru conflict."

ASSESSING ROUND ONE: The Financial Times opines with ‘Peru’s Election,’ both indicting Toledo’s administration and Flores’ campaign. But it saves the sharpest words to US policymakers: "An approach based simply on trade, more open markets and a common commitment to de­mocracy and security is not enough to maintain political stability in the region." There are a few factual errors including stating that "the president’s party lacked a credible candidate for last month’s contest" when Pais Posible did not present a candidate on April 9. In the end, Humala seems to have calmed the Financial Times significantly since FT’s March 23 front-page profile by Richard Lapper and Hal Weitzman. Yesterday’s Global Politician offered an essay by academic Ronald Bruce St. John compares Humala, Garcia and Toledo and concludes, "Peru's Humala is Washington's next ‘Worst Nightmare’ " The author compares Humala most closely with Evo Morales though he describes "other components of Humala's still hazy economic policy" broadly. Unfortunately, his equivocations and generalizations cloud his analysis. Other equivocations and generalizations weaken St. Johns’ argument. For example, he says that Humala has already "dried up foreign investment." (Slowed down perhaps but ‘dried up’?) He writes that Humala’s father, Isaac Humala Núñez, "is a well-known philosopher and teacher in Peru." Finally, the writer claims Humala "has also suggested Peru and Bolivia unite, politically and socially, as well as economically." St. John correcly argues that "the key factor boosting Ollanta Humala's political campaign is neither his personality nor his program" but the idea of being an "outsider" like Fujimori and Toledo in their respective quests for the presidency. While he summarizes Humala’s roots, he says nothing about how Humala stayed on the ballot through UPP. On García Pérez, St. John claims that he left office with his approval rating at 5%, the lowest in Peruvian history, and spent much of the 1990s in self-imposed exile in Europe ... [and refused] to repay Peru's foreign debt." (The APRA candidate received 20% of the vote in the 1990 elections; was chased out of the country after Fujimori’s April 5, 1992 autogolpe; and threatened to limit Peru’s debt repayment to 10% of export earnings.) On Toledo Manrique, St. John seems to agree that "the Peruvian relationship with the United States is an ‘equal relationship, not a subordinate one’."

MACRO ECON: Reuters has INEI’s new consumer price index rising 0.51% in April, "led by higher food and beverage prices as inflation picked up its pace from March." NOTE: "In the 12 months to April, inflation was 2.9%, above the central bank's 2006 target of 2.5%." QUOTED: Farid Matuk (INEI): "The motor driving inflation continues to be food prices." ALSO: "Peru's inflation is typically higher at the start of the year, in part due to the start of the new school year, which pushes up the price of educational goods such as books." A separate Reuters update makes the story more upbeat adding that this "beats forecasts."

COPYING THOR: The Associated Press (Rick Vecchio) reports that Thor Heyerdahl’s grandson, Olav Heyerdahl, and a crew of other Norwegians, left their Peruvian port on Friday as they tried to re-enact the historic ‘Kon-Tiki’ 1947 Pacific voyage. Norwegian Television Channel 2 is documenting the current adventure. NOTE: They do have an English version. "Heyerdahl, who died in 2002 at age 87, documented his voyage in the best-selling book "Kon-Tiki" and in an Oscar-winning documentary film."

SPINAL TAP: Innovasis offered a press release extening humanitarian service to Peru. "Utah-based spinal implant company Innovasis is collaborating with Eagle Condor Humanitarian to promote a medical expedition to Peru for six spinal surgeons who will spend three days at Lima Neurological Hospital."

BOLIVIA MOVES: The Los Angeles Times (Patrick J. McDonnell) reports from Santa Cruz, Bolivia on Bolivian President Evo who "threatens to throw out foreign firms that don't agree to sell most assets to the state." Ollanta Humala gets a mention as a "left-wing nationalist and Chavez admirer."

MARCHES IN USA: Several USA papers have stories on the May 1 immigrant rallies around the country. The Los Angeles Times leads with Max Amenero from "the northern plains of Peru" who emigrated to the USA in 1978. A separate Los Angeles Times story includes Alejandra Arcasi, a 40-year-old naturalized citizen from Peru.

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