Peruvian President Humala Ends Conflict With Chile Over Espionage

April 29, 2015

by AQ Online

After more than two months of diplomatic tension between Peru and Chile over accusations that Peruvian naval officials had sold secrets to Chilean intelligence, Peruvian President Ollanta Humala announced yesterday that the countries have resolved the dispute.

Humala said that he “recognizes the constructive attitude and dialogue of President Michelle Bachelet’s government in deploring these acts in the spirit of advancing the continued cooperation and integration of our peoples.”

Peru first accused Chile of espionage on February 19, calling on the neighboring country to investigate the accusations and press charges against those responsible. According to the Peruvian government, there was evidence that three Peruvian non-commissioned navy officials (NCOs) had shared confidential information with Chilean intelligence between 2005 and 2012. The naval officers allegedly stole classified military documents and passed them on to their Chilean handlers in secret meetings held in Argentina, Bolivia and Brazil in exchange for money. These officers first came under suspicion in 2014, when their superiors suspected that the officers could not finance those trips on their salaries alone.

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Tags: Chile, Peru, President Ollanta Humala

Peruvian Congressional Committee Votes Against Same-Sex Civil Unions

March 12, 2015

by AQ Online

After a nearly four hour debate, the Peruvian Comisión de Justicia y Derechos Humanos del Congreso (Congressional Committee on Justice and Human Rights) voted against a proposal for legalizing same-sex civil unions Tuesday night. The final vote count was four in favor, seven against, and two abstentions.

“Today, you have seen which lawmakers are backwards, those that want to deny the rights of others, who feel superior and consider that there are second-class Peruvians. We are on the right side of history, and we are sure this is going to be approved,” said Congressman Carlos Bruce, the leader of the same-sex civil union proposal.

The bill has been controversial across Peru. A march in Lima this weekend brought together 500 people advocating for approval of same-sex civil unions. However, many in the Catholic-dominated country have aggressively spoken out against the proposed bill, including Congressman Julio Rosas, who lauded the vote for “defending the natural family,” and Luis Bambarén, the Bishop emeritus of Chimbote, who publically used a derogatory, homophobic term to speak about Bruce, who is gay. Bambarén later issued a written apology.

Despite the outcome of the Peruvian vote, same-sex civil unions and same-sex marriage are becoming more of a norm in South America, and those in favor of the bill think it will eventually be passed in Congress’ next session. Mauricio Mulder, one of the four legislators who voted in favor of the civil union bill, has already submitted a request for reconsideration of the bill.

After a January 28 vote, Chile now allows same-sex civil unions, along with Colombia and Ecuador. Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay allow same-sex marriage.

Tags: Peru, Carlos Bruce, Civil Unions

Labor Law Overturned in Peru Following Protest

January 27, 2015

by AQ Online
Following a fifth round of student-lead protests, the Peruvian Congress voted this Monday to overturn a labor law that would have stripped young workers of many benefits and rights. The final count was an overwhelming majority of 91 votes to overturn the law against 18, with five abstentions.
The bill, which passed in December, would have affected workers between 18 and 24 years of age by halving their vacation time, eliminating bonuses, and interfering with severance pay and insurance. Students lead the protests against the law, along with labor unions and cultural groups, who organized across all of Lima.
President Ollanta Humala addressed the law on Friday, defending it in a national speech. According to the president, the law aimed to bring two million workers out of the informal sector and into the formal economy. However, those against the law claimed it to be discriminatory and unconstitutional.
Lawmakers argue that the overturning of the law marks a significant loss of control for the Humala administration. This Sunday, Sergio Tejada, who was a member of the president’s Gana Peru political party, quit the party in protest of the labor law, resulting in Gana Peru losing its majority in Congress to the main opposition party, Fuerza Popular. Humala’s approval rating dropped five points in January to a dismal 25 percent. ​
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Tags: Ollanta Humala, Labor Law, Peru

Peru Shares Proposal for Reducing Emissions

December 5, 2014

by Paula Dupraz-Dobias

Peruvian Minister of the Environment Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, who is presiding over this year’s United Nations summit on climate change in Lima, said on Tuesday that building a national carbon inventory will be his country’s first step for reducing emissions and formulating an “intended nationally determined contribution” (INDC), which countries will submit March 2015.

INDCs, developed at last year’s climate summit in Warsaw, are publicly presented national commitments to reduce carbon emissions. They provide an initial understanding of how limiting global temperature increases to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Farenheit) can be achieved collectively, prior to the Paris Climate Summit next December.

The minister, speaking this week at a session at the 20th Conference of the Parties (COP20), said, “if INDCs are relative to mitigation, then we have to know what to mitigate and how quickly.”

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Tags: COP20, Peru, PlanCC

Finding Gaston—And Peru’s Gastronomic Heritage

September 2, 2014

by Johanna Mendelson Forman

Food is powerful. After breathing, we all have to eat. And food can bring people together for celebrations or in times of sadness.

In Peru, food has become the glue that has held together a nation that experienced difficult times over the last forty years. And today food has made Peru one of the most important culinary destinations in the world, even more so than France.

Much of the credit goes to the talents of a brilliant young chef, Gaston Acurio. As he developed his own cooking style he was able to integrate the best of Peru’s local bounty—its seafood, its grains, and potatoes to create a new brand—a true Peruvian cuisine.

Gaston Acurio launched a culinary awakening that has made a trip to Lima a must for any self-respecting chef.

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Tags: Peru, Cuisine, documentary film

Peru’s Congress Approves New Cabinet

August 27, 2014

by AQ Online

Following a week of debate, Peru’s Congress approved President Ollanta Humala’s new 20-person cabinet yesterday, which will be led by Prime Minister Ana Jara. The cabinet was voted on a third time after the first two votes had too many abstentions to be valid, and approval was ultimately granted by a minimal margin for victory: 55 in favor, 54 against, and 9 abstentions.

Opposition legislators had made various demands of the administration before the debate, including that Energy and Mines Minister Eleodoro Mayorga resign. President Humala refused to get rid of any of his ministers, but did make concessions to the opposition, including suspending a law that required independent workers to pay into a pension fund.

Reacting to the news, Mesías Guevara, secretary-general for the Acción Popular (Popular Action) centrist opposition party said that President Humala “practically lives in a bubble” if he believes that the newly-approved cabinet is a strong one. The vote by Congress bolsters the Humala Administration at a time when it has been involved in frequent disputes with the legislative branch and the president’s approval rating is a paltry 25.8 percent.

Tags: Peru, President Ollanta Humala

Humala and Merkel Discuss Climate Agenda in Berlin

July 15, 2014

by AQ Online

Participating in the fifth-annual Petersberg Climate Dialogue in Berlin on July 14th, Peruvian President Ollanta Humala asked that European countries sanction European-based mining companies that commit labor abuses in Peru. Humala’s comments come after a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel about the two countries’ bilateral relationship. During the meeting, Merkel expressed Germany’s commitment to developing technology and industry in Peru, and expanding scientific research and scholarships to Peru.

Humala looked to gain support for multilateral negotiations ahead of the Cumbre del Clima de Lima (Climate Summit in Lima), part of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change’s 20th session of the Conference of Parties (COP20) in December 2014, which will focus on finalizing an alternative to the Kyoto Protocol and seek to reduce CO2 emissions before 2020. Before arriving in Germany, Humala spent three days in France meeting with President François Hollande, where the two leaders agreed to work together on health care, defense and education. Like Merkel, Hollande pledged more scholarships for Peruvians to study in France.

President Humala will also travel to Brazil, to attend the sixth BRICS Summit with other South American leaders on July 16, where he will meet with Chinese Prime Minister Xi Jinping and newly-elected Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Humala’s international tour will end in Mexico on July 17, where he will meet with President Enrique Peña Nieto before returning home to Peru where he commands a paltry 25 percent approval rating.

Tags: Ollanta Humala, Peru, Environment

Peruvian Hydroelectric Projects to Top $7 million in Investment

May 13, 2014

by AQ Online

Five hydroelectric projects in the Peruvian Amazon that would generate electricity for consumption within the country and abroad would require more than $7 million in investment, AméricaEconomía reported Monday.   

All five projects, located in Amazonas region in northern Peru, would bring over 8,000 jobs to the rural region according to José Arista Arbildo, president of the Gobierno Regional de Amazonas (Regional Government of Amazonas—GRA). This would help Amazonas ease its dependence on agricultural products and transition into a sustainable-energy producing region, Arista said. Two of the projects have already been approved by Peru’s Ministry of Energy and Mines and are projected to be completed in approximately five years. The other three projects are still in the evaluation phase and will not begin construction until 2018.

Similar hydroelectric energy projects have been halted or blocked in Brazil and Chile for failing to properly consult Indigenous communities that would be adversely affected in a legal mechanism known as consulta previa or prior consultation. Inambari, a hydroelectric plant on the border with Brazil has been stalled since 2011 due to environmentalist and Indigenous protests.

Tags: Peru, Peruvian Hydroelectric Damn

It's Long Past Time to Get a U.S. Ambassador to Lima

May 2, 2014

by Eric Farnsworth

In early March, The Washington Post ran an article on pending ambassadorial nominations worldwide, highlighting the fact that political maneuvering in the U.S. Senate was stalling numerous nominations and that, by implication, U.S. interests abroad were suffering. 

Nowhere is this more evident than in the Western Hemisphere, which, at the time the article was written, hosted U.S. embassies with almost half of the ambassador slots vacant.  Some of these vacancies—such as in Bolivia and Venezuela—are long-standing, owing to political difficulties with host nations.  Others, including in Colombia, have subsequently been filled.

Still, a disheartening number of posts remain without fully accredited ambassadors.  Of these, one in particular stands out: Peru, which has been without an ambassador since Rose Likins left in September 2013. 

A qualified candidate to replace her, career official Brian Nichols, was nominated on June 24, 2013, and was unanimously approved by the Foreign Relations Committee in October and again in January 2014.  He has yet to be confirmed, patiently waiting longer than any other nominee for any other ambassador post worldwide.

This is particularly strange—to say nothing of the personal toll that it takes on nominees and their families—because a prosperous, democratic Peru is a cornerstone of U.S. policy in the Americas.  The trade and investment relationship is strong and growing.  Peru is an important economic partner with a bilateral free trade agreement and a party to the ongoing TPP negotiations.  Peru is also a founding member of the Pacific Alliance, consisting of four Latin American nations pursuing a new vision of economic integration that fits comfortably within a framework of U.S. interests.

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Tags: Peru, Peru-U.S. relations, Pacific Alliance

Illegal Logging Destroying the Peruvian Amazon, Report Says​

April 18, 2014

by AQ Online

According to a newly released report, logging concessions in Peru are causing increasingly widespread illegal logging, which in turn is having a detrimental effect on the environment, biodiversity and hardwood resources of the Amazon.

Scientific Reports published the report on Thursday, detailing the geographic and legal violations related with logging violations specific to concessions—contracts for public land for up to 40 years and for 10 to 125 acres of land. The report found that 70 percent of government inspected logging concessions have major violations or have had their contracts revoked, leading to an increase in unregulated logging.

Despite several attempts to control logging through legislation, there is still pervasive corruption and abuse. Peru’s 2000 Forest and Wildlife Law No. 27308 established a process for regulating permits, concessions, and authorizations of logging in an effort to promote sustainable logging in the area. The U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement of 2009 included a Forestry Annex that attempted to create a new legal system for logging, but failed to eliminate exploitation. And the most recent Forestry Law, passed in 2011, has not yet been executed.

While the report focused on concessions and their environmental effects, the researchers also mentioned the social effects of unregulated logging. “The Peruvian people will get less economic return than they could, particularly those who depend more directly on the forest such as some indigenous communities, while Amazonian biodiversity will continue to decline,” said Clinton Jenkins, one of the report’s authors.

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Tags: Peru, Illegal Logging, sustainability