Thursday, May 04, 2006

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

ROUND TWO: Late yesterday afternoon, Reuters reported that ONPE President Enrique Mendoza officially declared the runoff candidates to be Humala and Garcia as "the remaining ballots will not produce any variation in the final results." A separate Reuters (Robin Emmott) story focuses on Flores "admitting defeat." The Associated Press (Carla Salazar) analyzes Flores failure – but the article does not seem avaiable in English. Lots of reasons are given but it is friend and colleague Xavier Barrón who slips in the sharpest words. A separate Associated Press (Rick Vecchio) story reviews the race between "a moderate leftist former president against a nationalist ... [a]n admirer of Peru's 1968-75 left-wing military dictator, Gen. Juan Velasco." The Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post include several sentences of wire copy about this in their print editions. The New York Times (Juan Forero) reviews the same information in the ‘World Briefing’ column. The Miami Herald (Tyler Bridges) offers a sort-off redemption story on Garcia. The piece repeats a few canards (he "left office universally hated"). CITED: John Crabtree (Oxford Analytica and author of Peru Under García: An Opportunity Lost.); Mauricio Mulder and Jorge del Castillo (APRA Congressmen) and the latest DATUM poll. How did he beat Flores? "García neatly positioned himself between the conservative Flores and the leftist Humala, promising to push exports, strengthen workplace rights for workers and get tough with crime."

WHITHER POPULISM? The New York Times offers an op-ed by Jorge G. Castañeda on the ‘Good Neighbor Policy’ which seeks to tie the immigration debate in the USA and the populist electoral wave in Latin America together. Castañeda suggests that "ultra-nationalist candidate, Ollanta Humala, seems poised to win a runoff this month in Peru's presidential elections. He wants, among other things, to renationalize Peru's natural resources, promote coca cultivation and align Peru against Washington with Venezuela's Hugo Chávez and his Bolivian neighbor, Evo Morales." Though it doesn’t refer to it, the essay is a summary of his argument in ‘Latin America’s Left Turn’ in the May/June issue of Foreign Affairs. The Independent offers a similar op-ed by David Usborne who asks ‘How far-reaching is the populist left tilt in Latin America?’

NO MORE LAURA: The Miami Herald (Christina Hoag) reports that "Laura en América to end six-year run on Telemundo ... after six years of ratings success." The article quotes Telemundo spokesman Alfredo Richard suggesting it was Laura who "decided to walk away." NOTE: Bozzo is still prohibited from leaving Peru. See Also: ‘LBozzo Talks on NBC’ in August 7, 2004’s Peruvia.

WAR OF WORDS, CONT: Venezuela Analysis reports that Venezuela and Peru have withdrawn their respective Ambassadors.

MACRO ECON: Bloomberg reports that Peru's Central Bank boosted the benchmark Loan Rate to 5.25%. NOTE: "The Peruvian sol has gained 4% against the U.S. dollar so far this year. The annual inflation rate accelerated to a 15-month high of 2.9% through April from 2.5% in March."

AMNESTY CHALLENGES: Amnesty International reports on the Peruvian Supreme Court ordering on April 18, "the re-detention of the two former prisoners of consciences," namely Herminio Palomino Soto and Julia Rodríguez Suárez.


MOVING BOLIVIA: The Washington Post (Steve Mufson) offers a front page story in their business section on ‘Bolivian Gas Takeover Sets a Familiar Scene.’ The writer argues that this is a repeat of 1937. CITED are many of the likely suspects: Bernard Aronson (Acon Investments LLC); Bernadino Leon (Spain’s Foreign Ministry); Jose Sergio Gabrielli (Petroleo Brasileiro SA); Peter Hakim (Inter-American Dialogue) and Michael Shifter (Georgetown University). Reuters (Helen Popper) also tries to broaden Evo Morales’ actions in Bolivia suggesting it "may spur Andean leftists." CITED are less likely suspects: Xavier Albo (Bolivian anthropologist); Hernan Reyes (FLACSO); Larry Birns (Council on Hemispheric Affairs); and Gonzalo Garcia (Humala advisor) who said Morales "decision resonated in Peru, where the camp of nationalist Ollanta Humala, the first round winner of a presidential race, applauded the move. ‘We respect what Bolivia has done ... it is a search for autonomy.’ "


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."


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.


Monday, May 01, 2006

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

UPDATE: Tomorrow's Financial Times explains LFN's electoral loss: "Ms Flores’ campaign failed to make headway in poorer areas."

Ambassador Wars: Yesterday, Peru pulled its Ambassador from Caracas. Today news cycle has Chavez responding not in-kind. The Miami Herald uses wire copy to report that ‘Venezuela will keep Ambassador in Peru.’ Quotes are from Foreign Ministers Oscar Maurtua (PE) and Ali Rodriguez Araque (VE). Xinhua reports that ‘Venezuela not to recall ambassador despite Peru's withdrawal’ but reminds later that withdrawing Ambassadors was Chavez’ idea. This quote should play well on Wall Street: “Alan Garcia has called Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez ‘a conceited scoundrel’ for asking Peru and Colombia to withdraw from free trade agreements with the United States.” Agence France Press calmly reports that ‘Peru plays down diplomatic rift with Venezuela’ with a soft Maurtua quote from yesterday's interview on RPP: “I'm confident that an attitude of equanimity will persist.” A separate Xinhua story has a simliar emphasis: ‘Venezuela, Peru try to avoid further escalation of diplomatic row.’ Meanwhile, UPI plays catch up and reports that ‘Peru recalls ambassador from Venezuela.’

Last night: Associated Press (Edison Lopez) offers a full review of ‘Peru Protests Chávez ‘Interference’ in Elections.’ If there is any doubt about Venezuela’s involvement, the article leads with: ‘Peru formally protested remarks by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, who called Peruvian presidential candidate Alan García a thief and repeatedly endorsed a rival candidate, Ollanta Humala.’ Merco Press also has a synopsis.

Still Counting: Dow Jones (Robert Kozak) updates the ONPE numbers down to the 1/1000 of a percent but still seems to hedge on Garcia’s passing into the second round. With 99.95% of the vote counted, “Nationalist candidate Ollanta Humala remains in first place with 30.627% of the valid votes … That second place candidate will almost certainly be former President Alan Garcia, who has 24.326% of the valid votes. … The difference between Garcia and Flores is 65,012 votes.”

In other news:

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