14 mayo 2009

162,000 Mothers Under 20

11 May, 2009 [ 14:42 ]

Peru has 162,000 adolescent mothers

Israel Ruiz

According to Peru's National Statistics Institute, the country has 7,130,000 mothers over the age of 12, which is 64.5 percent of the female population in this age group.

It was reported that 162,000 of these moms are adolescents between the ages of twelve and nineteen.

Ninety percent of the girls between the ages of 12 and 14 got pregnant because they were raped or sexually abused, said INEI.

It was also reported that twenty percent of the country's miscarriages were among adolescent mothers-to-be.

INEI statistics also showed that twenty percent of female teenagers in Peru's rural regions had children. The maternity rate in urban areas among teen girls was registered at ten percent.

42.2 percent of the country's females with children are married while thirty-four percent has not gotten married, said INEI.

The national institute also reported that eight percent of the country's mothers are divorced while 7.1 percent are single moms.

From sea to shining sea

Travel and Tourism 5 May, 2009 [ 09:42 ]

Peru's new highway to give 60,000 Brazil tourists access to Cusco

Israel Ruiz

Thanks to the construction of the Inter-Oceanic Highway, which is to be inaugurated in 2010, approximately 60,000 Brazilian tourists will arrive to Cusco's Imperial City every year.

Furthermore, the construction of the highway will allow farmers to sell their products to markets in the neighboring country, said Jean Paul Benavente, head of Cusco's tourism and foreign trade directorate.

He explained that one of the government's first goals was to generate more tourism from Peru's rainforest regions to the highlands and then to the country's coastal areas.

Benavente explained that to do this it would be necessary to create areas where tourists could rest and even shop. Among these key areas were the communities of Quincemil and Marcapata.

Aside from building the new highway, construction companies and government agencies are working on fostering tourism in the areas near the new road, said Benavente, explaining that projects were already taking place in the regions of Puno, Cusco and Madre de Dios.

Driving along this highway will be a very interesting experience for tourists, said the head of Cusco's Chamber of Tourism, stating visitors would be able to go from the jungle which is 200 meters above sea level to the Andes, which are 4,700 meters above sea level.

Guerrillas, guns, and the VRAE

Guerrillas Have Doubled Their Firepower, Peru Army Says
(courtesy Latin American Tribune)

LIMA – The Shining Path guerrilla group has doubled its firepower, acquiring sophisticated arms and gaining the ability to shoot down helicopters, the La Republica newspaper reported over the weekend, citing military intelligence sources.

Guerrillas operating in the Valley of the Apurimac and Ene rivers, or VRAE region, a jungle area in southern and southeastern Peru that has a strong presence of the group’s remnants and drug traffickers, have two rocket launchers, a grenade launcher and several heavy machine guns, including one capable of firing 1,000 rounds per minute.

The guerrillas also have as many as 99 assault rifles.

The vast majority of the arsenal belonging to the Shining Path, which is led in the VRAE by “Comrade Jose,” was taken from dead soldiers in combat.

The guerrillas have “two other ways of supplying themselves: the organized crime groups that steal arms from the army and drug traffickers,” military sources told the newspaper.

The story published Sunday in La Republica came out two days after the government relieved the police chief in the VRAE, Percy Rivera Paiva, of command for negligence.

Rivera Paiva sent about 100 firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition to the VRAE in an unguarded bus, officials said.

The incident raised suspicions about possible arms trafficking, but the government said only negligence was involved in the Rivera Paiva case.

A military report on last Tuesday’s attack on the helicopter carrying armed forces chief Gen. Francisco Contreras concluded that Shining Path guerrillas fired RPG-7s at the aircraft.

Some experts, however, told La Republica that the guerrillas had not yet mastered the Russian-made weapon.

Shining Path members apparently “just started practicing with the RPG-7, trying to imitate the Afghan mujahideen, who shot down several helicopters with these grenade launchers,” military sources told La Republica.

Since August, the armed forces have been making an aggressive push in the VRAE region in an effort to gain control of Vizcatan, considered the last bastion of the Shining Path.

The Shining Path has responded by increasing its activities in Vizcatan in recent months.

Two weeks ago, the Shining Path claimed responsibility for two ambushes near the town of Sanabamba in which 14 soldiers died.

The ambushes staged on April 9 were some of the deadliest attacks launched in recent months by the Shining Path.

Last October, the guerrillas killed 15 people, including 13 soldiers, in a remote coca-growing region in the Andean province of Huancavelica.

The Shining Path and its role in drug trafficking have been blamed for a rise in violence in the interior of Peru.

The Maoist-inspired group launched its uprising on May 17, 1980, with an attack on Chuschi, a small town in Ayacucho province.

A truth commission appointed by former President Alejandro Toledo blamed the Shining Path for most of the nearly 70,000 deaths the panel ascribed to politically motivated violence during the two decades following the group’s 1980 uprising.

The guerrilla group also caused an estimated $25 billion in economic losses, according to commission estimates.

Founder and leader Abimael Guzman, known to his fanatic followers as “President Gonzalo,” was captured with his top lieutenants on Sept. 12, 1992, an event that signified the “defeat” of the insurgency.

Since then, isolated guerrilla bands have engaged in sporadic and largely ineffective activity in a few regions. EFE

Less poverty?

Poverty levels in Peru will drop, Prime Minister says

Isabel Guerra

Peruvian Prime Minister, Yehude Simon, said that Peru would have reduced poverty rates in 4%, according to preliminary results based on recent international reports to be printed soon.

“Although the report has not been officially published yet, projections show Peru poverty rates will continue to fall,” he said

"I think that in the weeks to come, Peruvians will receive good news related to our fight to erradicate poverty. The official figures and other international reports will show that Peru has reduced poverty rates by two, three or even four percentage points,” he said.

According to the National Institute of Statistics and Informatics (INEI), poverty in Peru fell from 44.5 percent to 39.3 percent between 2006 and 2007. Simon said that the government has commited to reduce rates to down to 36%.

The sol rises as the dollar drops

Economy 6 May, 2009 [ 08:05 ]

Peru's currency keeps on strenghtening

Isabel Guerra

Yesterday, after almost five months, the pressures on the US dollar exchange rate were so marked that its price dropped to S/. 2.95, when Peru Central Bank (BCR) had to buy dollars to prevent the price from dropping too much.

The exchange rate closed at S/. 2.979.

“The market trends have completely changed. Now everyone wants to sell their dollars and buy soles” said a BCR Treasure manager, summarizing the economic operators' general feeling.

“These are the signs of a trade account more positive each time, and a are also due to some capital inflows higher than we had expected” he detailed.

“This tendency is expected to continue in the long term, because the US foresees high rates of inflation, exactly the opposite as Peru” added Luis Felipe Zegarra, Economist from the Piura University.

07 diciembre 2007

What Latin Americans Want

by Samuel Gregg D.Phil.

When Venezuelan voters rejected President Hugo Chavez’s plan to overhaul the constitution in a Dec. 2 referendum, they were not only pushing back on Chavez’s latest grab for power but sending him a message on what he calls “21st Century socialism.”

Chávez, along with Ecuador’s Rafael Correa and Bolivia’s Evo Morales, have been claiming mandates to nationalize key industries, impose extensive regulation, end their central banks’ independence, and make it virtually impossible for businesses to terminate anyone’s employment.

Latin Americans -- according to Chávez, Correa, and Morales -- have rejected the market economy and want to pursue collectivist alternatives. There’s just one problem with this claim. It isn’t true.

If Chavez had been paying attention, he might have seen his defeat presaged in last months’ release of the 2007 Latinobarómetro poll of Latin American public opinion. Fifty-two percent of Latin Americans, the poll says, view the market economy as the best economic system for their country. That’s a slight drop from the percentage recorded in the 2000 Latinobarómetro poll.

Still, it is a remarkable figure given the spotty implementation of economic-liberalization throughout the region, not to mention the Marxist-tinged anti-capitalist rhetoric that has infested Latin America’s political discourse for decades.

Naturally the numbers vary from country-to-country. A favorable view of the market economy was held, for example, by 74 percent of Colombians, 66 percent of Nicaraguans, 60 percent of Mexicans, 57 percent of Bolivians, and 49 percent of Venezuelans. Latin America’s populist-left caudillos are not presumably thrilled with these figures.

Even more surprising is the view taken by Latin Americans of privatization. Privatizations of state utilities occurred all across Latin America in the 1990s. Generally they were badly executed, the process heavily marred by corruption.

Yet despite this record, the number of Latin Americans who believe privatization has been beneficial rose from just over 20 percent in 2000 to 35 percent in 2007. Incredibly, 47 percent of Venezuelans, 45 percent of Ecuadorians, and 43 percent of Bolivians regard privatization as advantageous for their countries.

Once again, Messrs. Chávez, Correa, and Morales will be disappointed with such numbers -- not least because they suggest those opposing their nationalization schemes cannot be dismissed as numerically-insignificant “colonial elites.” Nor are Latin America’s leftist caudillos likely to be happy that 56 percent of Latin Americans regard private enterprise as indispensable -- that’s right, indispensable -- for their countries’ economic development.

Yes, this number does reflect a drop from the 2004 figure of 69 percent. But the decline has occurred in a context of an unprecedented demonization (even by Latin American standards) of business by the region’s populist-left presidents. Despite this, 61 percent of Venezuelans think private enterprise is essential for their nation’s economic development -- a remarkable number given the country’s political climate.

But although support for basic institutions that promote economic liberty and prosperity remains strong, the Latinobarómetro poll also indicates Latin Americans want more economically-interventionist governments. Curiously, the same poll reveals Latin Americans are very dissatisfied with their governments’ abilities to provide even very basic services. So how do we explain these apparent contradictions?

One explanation -- hardly unique to Latin America -- is that people often want mutually-exclusive things. The same person who values private entrepreneurship may also want a big welfare state, but not understand that the high taxes which pay for large welfare-systems reduce the incentives for people to be entrepreneurial. This, however, doesn’t fully clarify why Latin Americans want government to do more, despite their fatigue with their governments’ rampant inefficiency and corruption.

Here we need to recognize the significance of a characteristic of many Latin American cultures: the weakness of those non-state associations commonly called “civil society.” This flaw -- a Latin American problem since colonial times -- means many Latin Americans find it difficult to imagine any organization other than the state addressing a range of social issues.

This makes it all the more significant that the most trusted organization in Latin America is (as it has been from the beginning of Latinobarómetro polls) a non-state organization -- the Catholic Church. Reviled by Chávez and Morales, but trusted by 74 percent of Latin Americans, the closest institution to the Church in terms of public confidence is the military at just over 50 percent. It’s likely the Church’s disassociation from political power (despite the efforts of aging, fading liberation theologians) contributes to its high positive ratings.

And herein is a challenge for Latin America: the need for more truly independent non-state associations able to undertake most of the tasks many Latin Americans want governments to do.

Given Latin America’s history, the widespread emergence of such associations would be of almost revolutionary significance. But it would certainly amount to a far more authentically people-driven development than any economy-destroying “revolution” promoted by the likes of Messrs. Peron, Allende, and Castro in the past, or Chávez, Correa, and Morales in the present.

Dr. Samuel Gregg is research director at the Acton Institute and author, most recently, of The Commercial Society (2007)

19 noviembre 2007

"If Brazil wins, you have to come here... and if Peru wins, I have to go there..." (what now?)

Peru Brazil Tie - Vargas, Solano, de La Haza & Guerrero not to Play against Ecuador

© RPP Noticias
(LIP-ir) -- Five-time world champion Brazil was held 1-1 by Peru in the third round of the South American qualifiers for the 2010 soccer World Cup on Sunday at the Monumental Stadium in Ate.

Brazil playmaker Kaka scored the first goal of the game putting his team ahead with a 30-meter (98-foot) shot in the 39th minute of the game. Peru's goalkeeper Diego Penny was unable to stop the powerful kick from Kaka.

Despite the fact the Peruvian superstar, Paolo Guerrero was unable to help Peru during the second half of the game against the Brazilian giant; Juan Vargas took a long-range shot that was deflected by Brazilian captain Lucio to tie the score at 1-1 during the 71st minute of the game.

"This wasn't a good result," affirmed Peru's coach José Guillermo del Solar and assured that his team would have to beat Ecuador in its match on Wednesday in Quito, the fourth match in the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying rounds.

While Brazil improved one spot in the 10-team standings, from fourth to third on goal difference, Peru remains in eighth. With Argentina currently in the lead, only the top four teams in South America will have a chance to play in the World Cup.

Del Solar stated he was satisfied with Peru's players' performance but stated that the team should have won. He added that he felt calm because the team had done their best and given everything they had.

After having accumulated two yellow cards, Juan Vargas, Nolberto Solano and Paolo de La Haza will not be able to play in Peru's match against Ecuador. Solano stated that it had been necessary to play "hard" against Brazil in such an important game.

It is also not known whether Paolo Guerrero will play in the match against Ecuador.

08 noviembre 2007

the i generation... southern style

Education 8 November, 2007 [ 10:00 ]

40 Thousand School Children in Peru to Study with New Laptops

(LIP-ir) -- Peru's Minister of Education, José Antonio Chang announced that the forty thousand free laptops, which would be provided to elementary school children in the poorest and most rural regions of Peru, would have a virtual library with approximately one hundred books for the children to read.

"Our children, their teachers and parents will have books for each grade - in their schools, homes and within their reach. This is a great opportunity that unfortunately the current education system can not provide school children with limited funds", said Chang.

Furthermore, Peru's minister explained that the elementary school children were being given the laptops as part of President Alan Garcia's program to improve the quality of education throughout the country.

After having personally inspected and seen the progress school children were making in an elementary school in one of Peru's rural regions that was testing the 'One Laptop per Child' program, Minister Chang stated that he was convinced that the use of a laptop contributed to improving the quality of education in the country.

Peru's Ministry of Education will purchase the forty thousand laptops with a 22 million sole loan approved by congress, within the next few months. Forty thousand children in Peru's poorest and most rural regions will begin the 2008 school year with new laptops.

Ah, mi Peru, to educate you...

Education 8 November, 2007 [ 19:30 ]

Peru Ranked Last in the World in Quality of Education
(LIP-ir) -- According to a report released by the World Economic Forum (WEF) last week, out of 131 countries ranked in the world, Peru was in last place in the quality of its elementary school education and in 130th place in the areas of math and science.

On the other hand, the WEF report recognized Peru for its low inflation rate, ranking it 16th and its interest in and protection of private investments, ranked at 15.

Patricia Salas, President of the National Education Council, was shocked at the WEF results stating that Peru had worked very hard on improving its education system. She stated that an education reform as well as an analysis of methodology was needed to help the situation.

"We are all worried about education but I'd say that we still don't understand what education problems are. It's not a matter of quantity but quality. We can't believe that we can provide a good education just repeating things in texts or things that are on the Internet. To educate well, we have to work on the way in which people produce thoughts," said Salas.

Salas affirmed that the State needed new material and had to change the way teachers were trained. She stated that the educational system had to be completely reformed by redesigning curriculums and changing methodologies. Salas stated that if this was done, benefits could be seen in as early as 5 - 7 years.

21 setiembre 2007

The garua in Lima falls mainly on the ellyey

Wiki says...

Of the verbal habits of Limenos (n-yeh that):

~The Lima accent does not have a strong intonation as the rest of the Spanish-speaking world does. (Some scholars believe that it is because of climate factors; young people tend to speak too fast, and the lower class and outcast boys' tonal curve is from Andean or remote Black origin).

~In Lima there is no loss of syllable-final /s/ before a vowel or the end of a sentence. It is only aspirated in a preconsonantal position. This is unique, by all the social classes in the whole Latin American coast. The pronunciation of ese is soft predorsal.

~There is a clear (but soft) emission of the vibrants /rr/ and /r/. In syllable-final position is never assibilated like Chile, Mexico or the Andes.

~There is no confusion of /r/ with /l/ in syllable-final position like the Caribbean countries and the lower sociolects of Chile.

~The letters 'j' and 'g 'before 'e' and 'i' are pronounced as a soft palatal [ç]. The jota is velar: /x/ (resembled Castilian) in emphatic or grumpy speech, especially before 'a', 'o' and 'u'. It is never /h/. [translation: it's the throaty /khhh/ that sound like someone's coughing something up]

~Word-final /d/ is usually unvoiced or turned to /t/.

~Word-final /n/ is routinely velarized (the most highlighted Andalusian trait). [Velarization is a secondary articulation of consonants by which the back of the tongue is raised toward the velum during the articulation of the consonant.... [more translation: more throaty-ness]

~"The so-called yeismo and seseo "

YEISMO: Yeísmo (pronounced [ʝe'izmo]) is a distinctive feature of many dialects of the Spanish language, which consists of the loss of the traditional palatal lateral approximant phoneme /ʎ/ (written ll) and its merger into the phoneme /ʝ/ (written y), usually realized as a palatal fricative or affricate. The term yeísmo comes from the Spanish name of the letter y (i griega or ye). The opposite phenomenon, lleísmo (pronounced [ʎe'izmo]), is the recognition of the palatal lateral approximant phoneme /ʎ/.

Yeísmo produces homophony in a number of cases. For example, the following word pairs sound the same to speakers of dialects with yeísmo, but would be minimal pairs in áreas lleístas (i.e. areas which employ lleísmo):
haya ("beech tree" / "that there be") ~ halla ("s/he finds")
cayó ("s/he fell") ~ calló ("s/he became silent")
hoya ("pit, hole") ~ olla ("pot")
baya ("berry") and vaya ("that he go") ~ valla ("fence")

SESEO: In Spanish dialectology, the terms ceceo, seseo and distinción are used to describe the opposition between dialects that distinguish the phonemes /θ/ and /s/, and those that have merged the two sounds into either /s/ (seseo) or /θ/ (ceceo). Dialects that distinguish the two sounds, and thus pronounce the words casa ("house") and caza ("hunt") differently are described as having distinción, whereas the dialects that lack this distinction and pronounce the two words as homophones are described as having seseo if both words are pronounced with [s] or ceceo if both words are pronounced with [θ].

Distinción (which Lima does NOT employ)
Distinción refers to the differentiated pronunciation of the two phonemes written s and z (or c before e or i) in Spanish:

s is pronounced as a voiceless alveolar fricative /s/ (either laminal like in English, or apical);
c (before e/i) and z are pronounced as a voiceless interdental fricative /θ/ (the "th" in "think").
This pronunciation is the standard on which Spanish orthography was based, and it is universal in Central and Northern parts of Spain, except for some bilingual speakers of Catalan and Basque, according to Hualde (2005). It is also found in some parts of Hispanic America. Thus, in Spanish the choice between the spellings se, si and ce, ci, or za, zo, zu and sa, so, su is determined by pronunciation, unlike English, where it is often done according to etymology or pure orthographic conventions.

~The strong use of diminutives, double possessives and the routine use of 'pues' or 'pe' and 'nomás' in postverbal position. [HA! jajaja...HA. i think that's funny that wiki took note! wiki's quick, they are]

~/s/, is pronounced as [θ], especially in the speech of young men.

~/b/ /d/ and /g/ and intervocalic amongst younger people.

~The redudant use of verbal clitics, particularly 'lo' (the so-called loismo)

[which is... Loísmo and its feminine counterpart laísmo is a feature of certain dialects of Spanish consisting of the use of the pronouns lo or la (which are normally used for direct objects) in place of the pronoun le (which is used for indirect objects). Loísmo and laísmo are common in Castile.
A simple example of loísmo and laísmo would be saying lo hablé (lit. "I spoke him") or la hablé (lit. "I spoke her") where a speaker of a dialect without loísmo would say le hablé (lit. "I spoke to him/her").

Loísmo can also seemingly change the meaning of certain phrases, since some verbs take on a different meaning based on the case of their objects. For example, le pegué means "I hit him", but a speaker with loísmo would say lo pegué, which means "I stuck him" in dialects without loísmo.

The Real Academia Española listed loísmo and laísmo as correct in 1771; however, it condemned its usage in 1796. It currently recognizes it as a vulgarism.]

Some Common Expressions
Agarrar y + to do something (Agarré y le dije...).
Parar (en) = to frequently be somewhere or to frequently do something (Paras en la cabina).
Pasar la voz = to advice
De repente = perhaps, suddenly (depending on context).

Some traditional phrases in Lima
Anticucho = typical food consisting almost always of grilled chicken or cow heart.
Disforzarse = to be anxious.
Cachaco = soldier.
Calato = nude.
Chicotazo = lash.
Fresco/a (or conchudo/a) = shameless person.
Fregar = to bother, to ruin.
Gallinazo = typical fowl.
Garúa = tenuous rain.
Guachafo = ridiculous, gaudy.
Jarana = party.
Juerga = party.
Panteón = cemetery.
Penar = to roam in a house after dying.
Pericote = mouse.
Zamparse = to be introduced abruptly in a place or to get drunk.

Some informal words of extended use
Aguantar = to wait, to resist.
Chibolo/a = child, adolescent.
Paltearse = to be astounded, to be embarrassed.
Pata = male friend, guy.
Pollada = party where chicken is served.

Much Peruvian slang comes from inverting the syllables of a word. This is not a regular practice, but a common among teens and the low social- economic strata. This can be seen in the word 'fercho', which comes from the word 'chofer', driver. Another example is the word 'tolaca', which comes from 'calato'. Slang words do not always have to be the exact inverse of the original word: for example 'mica' comes from the word 'camisa', which means shirt

to be perused: (ha! ja! haja!) http://www.rae.es/

04 mayo 2007

Oh, wait... it's NOT over... blimey!

Controladores de tránsito aéreo del Perú anuncian huelga

El paro de 48 horas se inciará el próximo martes y amenaza con afectar las operaciones aéreas
Lima (dpa) - Los controladores de tránsito aéreo del Perú iniciarán el próximo martes una huelga de 48 horas que amenaza con afectar las operaciones aéreas en el país.

El secretario general del sindicato que los agrupa, Wilber Ruiz, anunció hoy viernes que la medida de fuerza es en demanda de mejoras en el sistema de comunicaciones y el aumento de plazas vacantes.

Ruiz señaló que solo en abril se produjeron constantes fallas en la fluidez de las comunicaciones con los vuelos, pese a la anunciada instalación de un moderno sistema, y que pese a la preparación de nuevos controladores no hay puestos de trabajo para su desempeño.

La huelga de los controladores podría ocasionar desde un retraso de los vuelos hasta la cancelación de los mismos para evitar riesgos. La protesta se suma a otras huelgas que iniciaron esta semana diversos gremios sociales en varias regiones, lo que ocasionó un clima de tensión en el país.

Whew... glad THAT's over...

El último día de huelgas en Perú

1:25 p.m. - LIMA, Perú /DPA - Con movilizaciones y cese de actividades, pero sin incidentes de consideración, transcurría hoy el último día de sendas huelgas cívicas en las regiones peruanas de Loreto y Huánuco.

En Huánuco, donde la población se paralizó desde el miércoles en apoyo a los productores de coca de esa región andino-selvática, algunos grupos intentaron bloquear vías de nuevo, pero sin que las cosas pasaran de momento a mayores.

En la homónima capital regional, Huánuco, donde la huelga es más intensa, los bancos reabrieron las puertas y algunos comercios atienden a puerta cerrada, pero en términos generales la parálisis continúa.

Mientras tanto, en la selvática Loreto, donde comenzó el jueves una huelga de 48 horas, la parálisis es total, salvo en una sus seis provincias, Alto Amazonas, que se limita a algunas concentraciones.

En la capital regional, Iquitos, grupos de manifestantes recorren las calles sin que haya hasta ahora disturbios.

El presidente de Loreto, Iván Vásquez, quien encabeza la protesta, lamentó hoy que a pesar de sus contactos con varios ministros no se haya logrado que el gobierno central dé una respuesta al pedido principal: El aumento de presupuesto para contratar profesores.

El Frente Patriótico de Loreto, que reúne a diversas organizaciones cívicas, ya advirtió que si la demanda no es atendida dentro de 12 días comenzará una huelga indefinida.

24 abril 2007

La Coca No Es Droga... we keep telling you!

Peru coca farmers warn government
By Dan Collyns
BBC News, Lima

Peru's striking coca farmers have given the government a 24-hour ultimatum to negotiate with them, threatening to continue their roadblocks indefinitely.
Thousands of farmers are protesting against a toughening of the government's coca eradication drive.

President Alan Garcia has recently announced an open war against the production of cocaine, of which the coca leaf is the basic ingredient.

Peru is the second largest producer of cocaine, after Colombia.

'Nothing to discuss'

"Coca or death" is the mantra of the striking protesters, as the stakes have been raised on all sides.

The protesters refuse to accept the government's toughened eradication programme and their leaders say any attempt to enforce it will result in violence.

If the government does not agree to a dialogue, they say, the roadblocks on the main roads into central Peru will stay.

President Garcia says there is nothing left to discuss, blaming drug traffickers for instigating the unrest among the coca farmers.

His stance has been backed by the US ambassador to Peru, James Curtis Struble.

He has said eradication is essential in the zone as the coca grown there goes directly into cocaine production, and the remnants of the Shining Path rebel group also operate there.

The Peruvian authorities say the Shining Path are behind this latest strike and were responsible for an attack on an eradication team last week, killing one worker and injuring up to 10 police officers .

For some 60,000 families in Peru who survive on growing coca it is a valuable cash crop.

But the authorities insist the vast majority of what is grown goes towards cocaine production.

In a few days' time, Mr Garcia will visit President Bush in Washington to try to ratify a free trade agreement which has been thrown into doubt by the Democrat-led congress.

He does not want to appear a soft touch in the US war on drugs, as cocaine production has increased in Peru and now accounts for some 90% of the coca leaf grown in the country.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2007/04/19 03:54:01 GMT


Peruvian ‘Crazy Horse’ Garcia pleases ratings agencies

Posted to the web on: 05 April 2007
Lester Pimenteland Andrea Jaramillo

PERUVIAN President Alan Garcia has halved the pay of public servants and sold state assets, winning the confidence of ratings firms two decades after he led the Andean country to default on debt.

Garcia helped Peru post its biggest budget surplus last year since at least 1970, a reversal of the pay increases and bouts of nationalisation that stoked hyperinflation during his first term. Standard & Poor’s (S&P) and Fitch Ratings responded by raising the country’s rating to one step below investment grade after Garcia took office in July.

“He was the Antichrist in Peru, where he was associated with inflation and scarcity,” said Alvaro Vargas Llosa, senior fellow in Washington at the Independent Institute. His father, novelist Mario Vargas Llosa, led anti-Garcia protest in the 1980s.

“There is now a strong base of support for the free market and economic openness. Garcia realises this,” said Llosa.

Garcia studied Chile’s economic expansion as he planned a comeback from exile in Paris and Bogota, said Arturo Porzecanski, an international finance professor at American University in Washington. Chile’s budget surpluses buoyed investor confidence, sparking growth that led to a twofold increase in its gross domestic product (GDP) per capita since 1990.

Chile and Mexico are the only two Latin American countries with investment-grade ratings.

“He was determined that if he was given a second chance by the Peruvian electorate, he would do right this time,” said Porzecanski, who met with Garcia last year.

S&P and Fitch raised the rating on Peru’s $22bn of foreign debt to BB+ last year. Fitch raised Peru’s outlook to positive on March 6.

Peruvian dollar-bonds rallied after the Fitch move, pushing down their average yield spread, or premium, over US treasuries by 16 basis points, or 0,16 of a percentage point, to 1,27 percentage points, according to JPMorgan Chase data. The gap is 26 basis points less than the premium that Colombia, which is also rated BB+ by S&P, pays on its bonds. An investment-grade rating would allow more pension funds and insurers to buy Peru’s debt, driving its spread down to a record low of about 1,05 percentage points, said Bertrand Delgado, an economist with IdeaGlobal in New York. Peru’s benchmark 8,375% dollar bonds due in 2016 traded at 118,75c on the dollar and yielded 5,7% on Tuesday.

Peru’s economy expanded 8% last year, the fastest pace in 12 years, as exports of products such as zinc, copper and fishmeal jumped to a record $23,4bn. The country’s 0,3% annual inflation rate is the lowest in the region, and less than all the Group of Seven industrialised nations except Japan.

“Everything is in place right now for Peru,” said Roberto Sanchez-Dahl, who manages $500m in emerging-market bonds for Federated Investment Management in Pittsburgh.

Three days after being sworn in, Garcia cut the pay of more than 17000 public servants, including his own. A month later, he sold concessions to operate nine regional airports. The pay cuts helped trim state spending to 18% of GDP last year from 18,9% the year before, according to the central bank. The government had a budget surplus of $2bn, equal to 2,1% of GDP.

“Peru is on the right track,” said Sebastian Briozzo, an analyst at S&P in New York. The government had to reduce the “social conflict” between rich and poor “to take that next step to investment grade”, he said.

About half of Peru’s 27-million people live on less than $1 a day, according to the government.

Moody’s Investors Service rates Peru’s debt Ba3, two levels lower than the S&P and Fitch ratings. Moody’s gave the rating a positive outlook on March 8.

Garcia’s austerity contrasts with the spending that undid his first government. He nationalised banks, doled out credit to small farmers, boosted workers’ wages and defaulted on debt owed to the International Monetary Fund and commercial banks. His policies earned him the moniker Crazy Horse.

Peru’s budget deficit ballooned, reaching 12% of GDP by 1988, his third year in office. Annual inflation peaked at 11,09% after his term ended in 1990. The economy shrank an average 9,3% a year from 1988-90.

The recession fanned support among the poor for the Shining Path Maoist guerrilla group. Fighting claimed about 10 lives a day during Garcia’s term as the guerrillas began attacking the capital of Lima from their mountain footholds.

“The images I associate with Garcia are hyperinflation, terrorism and corruption,” Vargas Llosa said. “Prices could change in a couple of hours. The amount of insecurity that creates if you haven’t lived through it is hard to describe.”

Garcia fled into exile in 1992 when President Alberto Fujimori, who tamed inflation and crushed the guerrilla uprising, tried to arrest him on corruption charges. Garcia returned in 2001 to mount a failed presidential bid. Last year, he defeated Ollanta Humala, a nationalist who pledged to increase government control of the mining industry and boost spending.

“Peruvians were scared Garcia hadn’t learned his lesson,” said Jorge Gonzalez, a labour minister under Fujimori who heads the economics department at Lima’s Pacifico University. “But he’s shown he has.”