Wednesday, May 03, 2006

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

ASSESSING ROUND ONE, CONT: The New York Times editorial is titled ‘Peru’s Looming Disaster’ which is harsher than yesterday’s Financial Times directive. However, it is lacking in clarity or purpose and it seems that the paper just wanted to go on record that they believed Peruvians had made poor electoral choices. Just like in FT, it’s the Peruvian electorate who are blamed for the choices they made on April 9 though they save a harsher tone for Humala: "Peru may elect the most dangerous leader yet." García is not saved from any thing either: he is "a spectacularly irresponsible and corrupt president." The Times suggests that the field "included several excellent candidates" though we are left to guess who they may be. The newspaper goes out on a limb suggesting the runoff will be on May 28 when ONPE has yet to settle on a date. Curiously, the paper argues that "Humala is no fan of democracy and wants to hold a constituent assembly to rewrite Peru's Constitution." That seems to be an improvised definistion of anti-democratic. See Also: La Republica commented on the article and got Garcia’s response.

ROUND TWO: The Miami Herald uses the wires to report that "Alan García on Tuesday was assured a spot in Peru's presidential runoff ... with 99.98% of votes counted." Merco Press reports that Alan Garcia promised that "if he wins next month's presidential runoff he will lead ‘a responsible change’ aimed at making Peru ‘the foremost country of the South American Pacific.’" He also "promised to overtake Chile, making Peru the ‘Pacific heavyweight’, to counterbalance US and Asian influence in South America."

SAVING MPICCHU: The Los Angeles Times (Patrick J. McDonnell) reports from Machu Picchu and its being ‘worn down’ by tourists. CITED: Darwin Camacho (tour guide); Richard L. Burger (Yale University); Alfredo Mormontoy (the site’s Chief Archaelogist); Manuel Bryce (Peru Tour); Oscar Valencia (Mayor of "Machupicchu" village). The obligatory reference to the beer commercial is also repeated. NOTE: "Almost 700,000 visitors, 70% of them foreigners, visited the site in 2005." The article makes a gratuitous poke at the elections: "Many will be watching closely to see how much the country's notoriously crooked political structure will stand up to an assertive tourism sector that frowns on talk of restrictions." Is Peru’s political structure more notorious than its neighbours? See Also: ‘Saving Mpicchu’ in Sept 16, 2004’s Peruvia.

DEFINING POPULISM: The New York Times (Simon Romero and Juan Forero) review ‘Andean populism,’ is pegged on Bolivia’s nationalization of its energy industry but includes some geographic generalizations. "It is in the Andean region where momentum is quickly building for a greater government role. ... in Peru, Ollanta Humala, a presidential candidate, has called for a more aggressive government role in natural gas and mining operations." It seems that it is rather ‘statism’ that the authors warn against rather than the elusive ‘populism’ which every one wishes to define.

AMAZON OIL: The Washington Post includes a short Bloomberg article on Hunt Oil which "signed a $40 million, 30-year contract to explore for oil and gas in the Amazon jungle in Peru. Peru hopes to find natural gas reserves to help fuel a $2.5 billion plant to export liquefied natural gas to Mexico."

MINING JOYS: Merco Press reports on the 7th International Gold Symposium held in Lima. Peru is now "the world's fifth-leading producer of gold, a rank it wrested last year from Russia." Whereas Mikhail Gorbachev was a featured speaker in 2004, the World Trade Organization’s Mike Moore is attending ‘Gold Opportunities in Peru and Latin America.’ NOTE: Peru earned 3 billion US dollars from gold exports in 2005. ALSO: "All Peru's ‘official’ gold mines output is exported. The country's tiny, low-tech domestic jewellery industry works with the precious metal from unregistered mines and gold-panning sites, many of them located in jungle regions. Some 30,000 families are employed in such wildcat mining operations, authorities say, underlining that child labour and other forms of exploitation practices are common in the informal ‘gold industry’ sector." See Also: ‘Gold Conference’ in Peruvia’s May 10, 2004 and ‘Gorby At Gold Conference’ on May 12, 2004.

MINING WORRIES: The Guardian offers an opinion by Oliver Balch on the challenges of mining in Latin America including a focus on Newmont’s gold project in Cajamarca. "This week, representatives from the Andean region of Cajamarca in Peru travelled to Denver to voice their complaints to Newmont." It cites Father Marco Arana (Grufides) saying that, ‘It sounds like a joke, but Newmont paid out individual compensation according to the quantity of mercury that people suffered. Those that had the highest [contamination levels] got the equivalent of around $2,300. But, as part of the deal, they had to sign away their rights to any further claims in the present or the future.’" See Also: ‘Newmont’s Troubles’ in Sept 18, 2004’s Peruvia.

BOLIVIA MOVES: The Associated Press (Alvaro Zuazo with Edison Lopez in Lima) updates Humala’s reaction to Bolivia’s actions. "In Peru, Ollanta Humala, the nationalist presidential hopeful headed to a runoff election, has said he, too, would force foreign mining and gas companies to renegotiate contracts. But on Tuesday, Humala softened that message. ‘We respect the sovereign decisions of our brother nation Bolivia, but what I want to say emphatically is this: We have never talked about either state takeovers or expropriation,’ he said." Separately, another Associated Press piece says that Bolivia’s government said Tuesday "it would extend control over mining, forestry and other sectors of the economy after President Evo Morales nationalized the country's huge natural gas industry." The Financial Times (Javier Blas and Richard Lapper) is much stronger in its condemnation of these actions. "The west’s energy watchdog said some Latin American countries were ‘embarking on a dangerous path’ by altering their relationships with multinational energy companies. It also highlighted a worrying trend of energy nationalism that was closing markets to consumer countries, such as Spain and France." NOTE: Alex Turkeltaub (Frontier Strategy Group) said that mining companies are "much more worried about what will happen in Peru if [Ollanta] Humala [the nationalist close to Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez wins [the election]." Separately, The Financial Times (Richard Lapper and Hal Weitzman) report on Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez casting "a long anti-American shadow over regional capitals."

HOT FOOD: The Washington Post weekly ‘food online dialogue’ offers a sneak peak at next week: "We have ... the hottest new cooking--it's coming from Peru. Walter Nicholls explains how it's more than just that Peruvian rotisserie chicken we all love."

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