Monday, October 29, 2012

Crisis in Lima

Riots in Gamarra and la Parada provoked 4 deaths

by The Colca Specialist

Gamarra is not just a market but a symbol of peruvian entrepreneurs. La Parada is different. All the crops from different parts of Peru arrived to this place in trucks and this market has turned into a terrible focus of crime and disorder.The surroundings of La Parada have turned into a realm of crimen inhabited by criminals and other kind of undiserable people.

The major of Lima Susana Villarán decided to start to take measures against this situation and the first step was to block the access to trucks in the surrounding streets of La Parada with concrete blocks.

According to the investigations done some owners of stores hired “matones” or “gang members” to fight the police that day,undiserables who lived in very poor areas of Lima specially inhabitants of Cerro San Cosme and other places of Lima.

The policemen arrived to the place and the concrete blocks were put on the indicated places. In those moments the riot started. A police unit riding horses arrived to the place but the number of rioters was superior to the cops´number and everything became a chaos.other group of rioters attacked Gamarra market and they started to plunder the market as we can see on the pictures.

The cameramen of different TV channels were attacked and their cameras captured all the disaster that happened in the area, imagens that just reveal the real situation of a country where corruption still rules and where criminality is like our daily bread everyday.

Police riding horses on streets crowded of criminals! That is really stupid. On 2012 and peruvian police continues fighting these criminals with sticks and shields

The horses of the historical unit od the mounted police were attacked  by the vandals too as you can see in the videos on youtube.

The female horse Lamar broke a leg when it falled down with its horserider. The cop was pulled by the vandals and it was attacked with rocks and other things. Is Lima a safe place? I don´t think so.

These criminals didn´t think on human rights when they attack policemen or other inocent people. In some states of United States there is death sentence for criminals like these. As peruvians we don´t understand why United States representatives are all the time are advising peruvian presidents to avoid the establishment of the death sentence.

Southamerica according to the famous writer Andres Oppenheimer,a columnist of Miami Herald, he says that Southamerica has turned into an unsafe place. Lima is more dangerous than Bagdad suburbs and as dangerous as the capital of kidnappings in Southamerica: Colombia.

The scenes of criminals attacking the fallen cops and the fallen horses are terrible.

We cannot fight those criminals with just sticks and shields. As an exmilitary officer it seems to me that the general of the peruvian police is a complete idiot. Don´t ask me what do I think about the president at this moment…

All peruvians feel that this situation reveals the real situation of the country.We have touched the bottom. The imagen of the touristic Lima and its make-up created in the last years are gone.

We have seen the images of a country suffering because of different kinds of leper.

Not even the animals escaped from the violence of these criminals and it is not fair to use undefenseless animals like horses to fight these undiserable ones.

The Colca Specialist protests openly against the use of horses to fight armed rioters or strikers.We hope WWF and the other world associations will help us to protest against the use of horses in situations like these.

Thank you very much.

The Colca Specialist

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Spanish tourist dies in Colca Canyon

by The Colca Specialist

Once more again the Colca Canyon becomes th scenery of Death.The spanish tourist Javier Gonzales Bautista (36 years old) died in a trekking circuit inside the Colca Canyon (October 21)when he fell down to the canyon in the area of Malata village.According to the investigations done he tried to recover some bottles of water he lost on the way when the accident happened.He lost balance and he went down 150 meters dying because of severe craneal damage.

AUTOCOLCA the authority in charge of the manteinance of the trekking circuit is once more again the direct responsible for this accident because part of the path in the area of Malata has become very dangerous for the tourists who are doing trekking inside the Colca Canyon. 

The reason is that in that area part of the path has been covered by a landslide and the trekking path is almost gone so what  are doing the corrupted authorities of AUTOCOLCA with the money obtained from the touristic tickets?

They are doing absolutely nothing in order to improve the services provided to the tourists. Several tourists fell down inside the Colca Canyon not only because of informal tour guides but also because of the poorly done paths without good signals.

Some months ago the brazilian tourist Paula Sibov died almost the same way inside Colca Canyon.(See of Colca Canyon specially those of AUTOCOLCA who are the ones in charge of the administration of the area just care about making money and they don´t care about the safety of the visitors.

The Colca Specialist recommends all the visitors to buy tours with responsible well known tour companies or if you go alone check all the information available in order to avoid all these painful situations.

The Colca Specialist

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Tawantinsuyo Tour: calamity tours on double decker buses

Tawantinsuyo Tour Not a good option in Arequipa

By Shawn Matson

The fever of the double deckers has arrived to Arequipa few years ago. Now we have several companies that offer the same service which I am going to speak about. Let´s speak about Tawantinsuyo Tour.

Tawantinsuyo is one of the travel agencies that offers this kind of service. The only difference with other companies is just the color of the buses: there are yellow,orange,green and the blue ones of Tawantinsuyo Tour.

Tawantinsuyo is the cheapest and its publicity can be found in all the travel agencies of Arequipa.When you ask for a city or countryside tour the one in charge of the travel agency will show you one of the pamphlets of the different companies available and there you will find the pamphlet of Tawantinsuyo Tour. (See picture above).

Why the travel agencies sell its product? Because it is very cheap and it offers good commissions to the street vendors and travel agents.

The quality of the service is terrible! The tours offered are more shopping oriented and the information provided during the tour is very poor compared with a guidebook! Lots of stops in very touristic places and no good information about Arequipa. I took other tour with another company and it is the same so I don´t reccomend you my friends to take these kind of tours done with double decker buses.

When we departed from Arequipa I was eager to see the countryside of Arequipa and we were taken to a place called “Carmen Alto” a place where you can see Arequipa´s valley. The info provided as I told you before was very basic and when we descended from the bus we were just invited to get inside the place to take pictures and they showed us the store in case we wanted to buy something. That was all. There was no interest of the guide in providing information.Not at all.

I thought I was the only one upset about the disasterous tour I took but not. There were other people who agreed with me that we were guilty of having bought the same tour. There was a family who bought it in Colonial Tours other people bought the tour in other places but we ended traveling together with the same company.

The city tour can be donde by ourselves with a very guidebook and in case you want to visit the countryside of Arequipa I recommend you to go to Sogay (this place is called Little Colca) or to Yarabamba or Chiguata where you are going to see the real countryside of Arequipa and not a touristic shopping center. Don´t forget that your holidays are important and don´t be fooled like us with these poor quality tours of TAWANTINSUYO TOUR.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Chile is still a model for Latin neighbors

By Andres Oppenheimer

Chile’s image as Latin America’s star economy has been battered lately by images of violent student protests, but new economic data — including a decline in poverty rates announced last week — suggest that the so-called “Chilean model” is still very much alive.And judging from what Chilean President Sebastian Pinera told me in a telephone interview last week, it is not only alive, but booming.

Chile’s latest economic results “put us in the No. 1 place in Latin America,” he told me. Two years after the devastating earthquake that shook Chile in 2010, the economy has grown by 6 percent a year for the past two years, exports have grown by 20 percent, inflation has remained at 3 percent and, most importantly, poverty and inequality rates have dropped significantly, he said.

According to the newly released figures of Chile’s CASEN poverty census, supervised by the University of Chile and the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), poverty declined from 15.1 percent of the population in 2009 to 14.4 percent today, and extreme poverty from 3.7 percent to 2.8 percent over the same period.

“We are happy, but not satisfied,” Pinera said. “We have recovered our country’s poverty reduction capacity after poverty had been increasing during the last three years of the previous government. That’s good news.”

Countering opposition critics who minimized the latest poverty figures, arguing that the census methodology should be updated, Pinera said that the new data are significant precisely because CASEN has been using the same methodology over the past 22 years.

“What’s most significant are the new figures on extreme poverty,” Pinera said. “The 2.8 percent of the population figure is the lowest in the history of this indicator.” He said the main reason for the poverty reduction was the creation of 700,000 new jobs, and a three-tier government poverty reduction program known as “Ethical Family Income.”

Under the program, poor families get a sum of cash if they are below the poverty line, an additional sum if they carry out certain duties such as sending their children to school and meeting vaccination schedules, and a third sum if they can show certain “achievements,” such as if their children get better grades in school.

Asked about another opposition criticism, that poverty should have fallen more considering Chile’s 6 percent growth rates over the past two years, Pinera said: “I would tell critics that I agree with them that I would have liked poverty to fall more, but I can’t help remembering that during their term in office poverty not only failed to fall, but increased.”

He added, “Look, the world is in crisis: Europe is in recession, the United States is stagnant, Asia’s giants are slowing down, Argentina and Brazil are in a profound economic slowdown, and Chile has managed to grow by 6 percent over the past two years. It’s the country with the highest growth rate in Latin America and the OECD” group of industrialized nations.

Is Pinera exaggerating Chile’s economic performance? Juan Carlos Feres, a senior ECLAC poverty expert, told me that Chile’s latest reduction in extreme poverty is “statistically significant.” Chile has reduced poverty from nearly 40 percent in 1990 to today’s 14.4 percent, more than any other country in the region, he said.
Former Chilean President Ricardo Lagos, a Socialist Party leader during whose term Chile registered its lowest poverty rate ever, told me that “anything that implies a poverty reduction is good news, although the figure is very modest.”

Lagos added: “We can’t say that we’ve found a panacea. Our per capita income is much higher than in 2006, and yet we have a bigger percentage of poor than in 2006. We must have done something wrong between 2006 and now.”

My opinion: Looked at from afar, and especially compared with its neighbors, Chile is doing very well.
Granted, Pinera may be taking too much credit for Chile’s success story, which has been largely the work of left-of-center governments in the 1990s and early 2000s, and his claim that Chile is the fastest growing economy in the region is questionable (Panama and Peru are growing faster, according to ECLAC’s figures.)
But looking at the big picture, and setting aside Chile’s internal political fights, Chile’s export-oriented policies, insertion into the global economy and, above all, steady economic course over the past twenty years have done much more to reduce poverty than Latin America’s populist leaders who proclaim themselves champions of the poor.

Latin America gets bad marks in innovation

By Andres Oppenheimer

It shouldn’t come as a big surprise that most Latin American countries ranked towards the bottom of a new United Nations index of innovation. What’s surprising — and depressing — is that, with a few exceptions, they are not even making the list’s sub-group of “innovation learners.”

The massive new study entitled Global Innovation Index 2012, done jointly by the U.N. World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the France-based INSEAD business school, ranked 141 countries according to their innovation capabilities, or their overall capacity to invent new products.

It’s a key indicator of countries’ future: in a knowledge-based global economy, where companies that invent new products — such as Google, Apple or Facebook — often have a higher market value than the economies of many countries, innovation is a major economic growth factor these days.

According to the new Global Innovation Index 2012, the 10 top world leaders in innovation are Switzerland, Sweden, Singapore, Finland, Britain, Netherlands, Denmark, Hong Kong, Ireland and the United States.

The ranking takes into account not only countries’ new patent registrations — an area in which the United States leads the pack — but also investments in research and development, and whether their business and regulatory climates are conducive to inventions with business potential.

Among the study’s data:
• No Latin American country, with the exception of Chile, ranks among the world’s 50 innovation leaders.
•  Chile ranked 39th in the world, while Brazil ranked 58th, Colombia 65th, Uruguay 67th, Argentina 70th, Peru 75th, Guyana 77th, Paraguay 84th, Bolivia 114th and Venezuela 118th. Chile “shows strengths across the board,” with the exception of primary and secondary education expenditures and student-teacher ratios.
•  Brazil, despite benefitting from changes in the way the ranking was made this year, lost 9 positions from last year’s index. The reason was Brazil’s “particularly worrisome” business environment, university education and credit conditions.
•  Venezuela has been steadily losing ground in recent years, and its 118th position this year is near the bottom of the world ranking, below Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Uganda.
•  A sub-index that divides the world among innovation “leaders,” “learners” and “underperformers,” according to countries’ per capita income levels and efforts to improve their innovation standings, places Switzerland, northern European countries, New Zealand and Israel among the “leaders.”
•  The group of “innovation learners” includes China, India, Vietnam and Ghana, with Chile listed in a grey area close to them. The group of “innovation underperformers” includes Mexico, Argentina, Ecuador and Venezuela.

Soumitra Dutta, the INSEAD academic who authored the Global Innovation Index, told me in a telephone interview that the main reasons why there are not Latin American countries among the world’s 30 top innovation leaders — despite the fact that Brazil and Mexico are among the world’s twelve largest economies — has to do with their political, regulatory and business environments. 

In addition, the quality of education in the region is often poor, especially in scientific areas, and in many countries there is little credit available for new ventures, he said.
Asked about whether the “underperformers” are oblivious to the growing economic importance of innovation, education, science and technology, Dutta said, “Latin America’s “underperformers” are improving, but the rest of the world is moving faster. In Asia, they are moving much faster.”
My opinion: I have to confess that I scratched my head when I saw Switzerland — a country I identified with making good chocolates and watches, rather than producing major inventions — in the No. 1 spot of the world’s leading innovators. But then, reading the report, I found that Switzerland has attracted a surprising concentration of international research and development centers.
Regarding Latin America’s low rankings, they are largely due to most of the region’s leaders’ failure to admit that the region is falling behind international education and scientific standards.
Much like happens with the international standardized PISA tests for 15-year-old students, or the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s statistics of patents per countries of origin — where South Korea alone registered 13,200 patents last year, while Brazil registered only 250, Mexico 120 and Argentina 50 — most presidents prefer to look the other way, and continue living in denial.
Fortunately, some — including Chile, Brazil and Colombia — are beginning to recognize the problem, and starting to address it. But most others are perpetuating the myth that their countries are making great progress in education, science and technology, and continuing to fall increasingly behind the rest of the world

Latin America’s challenge: the ‘boring stuff

By Andres Oppenheimer

We all know what conventional economists say about the future of Latin America: Venezuela, Argentina, Bolivia and other countries that pursue populist policies will go downhill, whereas Chile, Peru, Colombia and others that pursue “responsible” economic policies will do great.

So when I interviewed the most unconventional among the best-known U.S. economists — Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman — last week, I was eager to know whether he agrees with the conventional wisdom on Latin America.

Krugman, who has just published a book entitled “End this depression now!” — where he argues that the United States and Europe should increase their economic stimulus packages to jumpstart the world economy, rather than continuing to cut public spending — is often cited by Latin America’s populist governments as a supporter of their big spending policies.

Earlier this year, Argentina’s President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner enthusiastically cited in a speech one of Krugman’s “Conscience of a Liberal” blogs in The New York Times, in which he stated that Argentina’s economy is getting unfair treatment from the media.

Asked whether he agrees with mainstream U.S. economists that Latin America’s “populist” governments will end up destroying their economies, while “responsible” governments will do much better, Krugman surprised me for being much closer to the mainstream — at least on this issue — than one might have suspected.
“The little bit that we know is that the old rules still apply: If you print money to cover your bills even when the economy is not in a recession, you will get high inflation. If you follow irresponsible populist policies, it will hurt growth. So I don’t think that Venezuela is any kind of role model,” he said.

“On the other hand, the hard-line free market stuff has not worked the way it was supposed to,” he added. “We had heard promises of great growth in Mexico for decades now, and Mexico is not terrible now, but it certainly has not had the kind of takeoff. The economies that seem to do the best are the ones that seem to have somewhat middle-of- the road policies, that are basically free market, responsible fiscal policies, but also make some serious efforts at poverty reduction, Brazil being the obvious case.”

Asked about Argentina, he said that “it’s not a good story either, although it’s not in the Venezuelan league.”
According to Krugman, “Argentina had a remarkable recovery from its crisis of the early years of the last decade, but clearly they have gone on with the populist policies too far too long....If they had made a turn to more moderate policies in 2007, then the Argentine story would be an entirely positive one. Instead, they kept their foot on the gas pedal.”

Despite the fact that the region’s economy is expected to slow down from 4.3 percent last year to about 3.7 percent this year, Krugman said he is “still relatively optimistic” about the region.
“I don’t see anything in the latest data that would lead me to believe that it’s actually going to get caught up in the full depth of the (world) crisis,” he said.

On whether he is more optimistic about Brazil or Mexico, he said that “while I am not a dire pessimist about Mexico,” Brazil right now looks more promising. “I don’t think there is an easy policy explanation about why Brazil has done better. It just seems that there seems to be more of an entrepreneurial drive,” he said.

Asked what would be his advice for Mexico’s virtual president-elect Enrique Pena Nieto, Krugman said that Mexico has been pursuing sound economic policies, but that now “it needs to work on all the boring but necessary stuff: education, infrastructure and rule of law, which is a big issue for Mexico.”

“The best thing you could do for the Mexican economy would be to control the drug trade and the crime wave, and hope that the re-shoring of production from China (to Mexico) finally generates the economic miracle we keep waiting for,” he added.

My opinion: I agree with most of Krugman’s views on Latin America, especially his recommendation that Mexico focus on the “boring but necessary stuff,” such as education and infrastructure.
That should be sound advice for the entire region, and perhaps for the United States, too. I would only add that the biggest challenge for our part of the world is to stop seeing these tasks — especially education — as “boring,” and re-packaging them as the most exciting challenge of our generation. 

Victory may not boost Chávez’s regional clout

By Andres Oppenheimer

The conventional wisdom is that President Hugo Chávez’s victory in Venezuela’s elections will increase his influence in Latin America, and that it may encourage other presidents to seek indefinite reelections. But there are good reasons to think that Chávez’s political momentum will be short lived, and geographically limited.
After Chávez’s Sunday victory, which will allow him to rule until 2019, most of his supporters and critics seem to agree that his victory will re-energize his followers throughout Latin America.

In a telephone interview from Caracas, Venezuela’s vice minister of foreign relations Jorge Valero told me that Chávez’s victory will mark a turning point in Latin America’s current history.
“This election will have a much more profound impact on the continent than what the Bolivarian Revolution has already had,” Valero told me. “This is a revolution, and this is a victory that may even impact other continents, such as Europe.”

Chávez’s victory will “give a new impulse” to several Latin American diplomatic groups that were born since the Venezuelan president took office 14 years ago, such as the Venezuela-led ALBA group that is also made up of leftist countries, such as Cuba, Bolivia and Nicaragua; Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and the recently created Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), Valero said.

The start of Chávez’s third term in 2013 will coincide with Cuba taking over the rotating presidency of UNASUR, which is now held by Chile. That will be only one of many factors that will help bolster Venezuela’s diplomatic influence, he said.

Will the fact that a significant 45 percent of Venezuelans voted for the opposition — despite an uneven race in which Chávez virtually controlled television time and used massive state resources to buy votes — lead the president to reach out to the opposition, or will he radicalize his revolution, I asked Valero.
“The message from the Venezuelan people is that we need to move forward in the construction of an egalitarian society,” Valero said.

Elsewhere in Latin America, the outcome of Venezuela’s elections is likely to embolden other presidents — such as Argentina’s president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner — to change their constitutions and seek indefinite reelections, as well as to step up efforts to clamp down on critical media, the Spanish daily El Pais said Monday. Many leading Latin American analysts voiced similar views in recent days.

My opinion: Chávez will undoubtedly get a political boost from his election victory at home and abroad, but his momentum will not compare to the clout he had a few years ago.
First, one of the most remarkable things of Venezuela’s Sunday election is that opposition leader Henrique Capriles won about 45 percent of the vote — much more than any predecessor — although Chávez had a “captive vote” of millions of public employees and recipients of government subsidies, as well as a near total control of television time.

Despite 14 years of near absolute powers, Chávez is much weaker today than he was in the 2006 presidential elections, when the opposition got only 36 percent of the vote.
Second, all politics is local, and Chávez’s victory will not automatically translate into a growing club of presidents-for-life. In a few months, Chávez’s victory will be a distant memory in most countries.

Third, and most important, Chávez’s influence at home and abroad is directly proportional to world oil prices, and there are no signs that oil prices will soar anytime soon.
When Chávez took office, oil was at $9 a barrel. When oil prices jumped to nearly $150 a barrel in 2008, Chávez reached his peak, traveling around the world giving away petro-dollars to boost his narcissist-Leninist model, and seeking a seat at the United Nations Security Council.

Now, with oil prices back to about $100 a barrel, Chávez will have to spend much of his time taking care of domestic problems, such as fighting pressures to carry out a massive devaluation of the currency after the Dec. 16 state elections, controlling runaway inflation, lowering record crime rates, and ending electricity shortages that are politically embarrassing in one of the world’s top oil exporters.

Venezuela’s difficult economic situation, alongside a gradually growing opposition, and Chávez’s own uncertain health will keep Chávez from significantly stepping up his international activism. Barring an unexpected rise of oil prices, he will be too busy trying to keep the lights on at home. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

College rankings should alarm Latin America

By Andres Oppenheimer

While Latin America’s attention was focused on the Venezuelan elections last week, few paid attention to a news item that should have raised eyebrows — a new ranking of the world’s best universities shows a near total absence of Latin American schools.

The London-based Times Higher Education World University Ranking of the world’s 400 best universities released Oct. 3 shows that, despite the fact that Brazil is the world’s sixth biggest economy and Mexico the fourteenth, there is not one single Latin American university among the world’s best 100, and only four among the world’s best 400.

The region’s best-ranked school is the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, in the 158th place. The State University of Campinas, Brazil, is in the group of schools lumped together between the 251st and 275th places, while the Universidad de Los Andes, Colombia and the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) are in the ranking’s 351-400 group.

There are no universities from Chile, Argentina, Peru, Venezuela or other countries in the region among the world’s best 400 higher education institutions. By comparison, there are 22 Asian universities among the world’s best 200 and 56 Asian schools among the world’s best 400.

Overall, the ranking shows that U.S. universities remain by far the world’s best placed — the California Institute of Technology is No. 1 in the world, and seven of the world’s top 10 are U.S. schools — but Asian institutions are rising fast. Several Chinese, Japanese and South Korean are moving up in the ranking, while 51 U.S. institutions lost ground compared to last year’s ranking.

Two other respected world international rankings released earlier this year show similarly depressing results for Latin America. Neither the London-based QS World University Ranking nor the Shanghai, China-based Jiao Tong University rankings have any Latin American university among their top 100 schools, which are also dominated by U.S., British and Asian institutions.
Phil Baty, editor of the Times Higher Education ranking, told me in a telephone interview that the reasons behind Latin America’s poor showing in these rankings include a relatively low state funding for universities, and the universities’ below-standard focus on research.

With few exceptions, such as the Sao Paulo state’s massive funding for its best universities, most Latin American universities are underfunded, he said. While the United States and South Korea invest 2.6 percent of their GDP in higher education institutions, Chile invests 2.5 percent, and Mexico and Argentina 1.4 percent each, he said.

“Asian nations are investing very heavily in their universities,” Baty told me. “World class universities cost money. In Latin America, we see a concentration of resources in universities that have huge numbers of students and are very much focused on providing infrastructure for them, which makes it really difficult to invest in cutting edge research.”

Many Latin American governments object to these rankings, claiming that the dozen indicators they use, including surveys of academics around the world and peer-reviewed publications in academic journals, tend to favor English-speaking countries. Several Latin American nations are working on a UNESCO-supported project to produce their own Latin America-only university ranking.But, according to Baty, his rankings survey includes a geographically weighted participation of Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking academics. And language is no excuse for staying behind in the race for academic excellence, he said.
“Asian universities are actively publishing in the English language, because they want their research to have a larger audience and a higher impact,” he says. “We are not seeing that in Latin America.”

My opinion: I agree. The tendency by many Latin American governments to dismiss the three most prominent world university rankings, and their plans to produce their own ranking confined to Latin American universities, is a recipe for complacency, inaction and backwardness.

Claiming, as they do, that Latin American universities have their own special goals, such as providing free education to the poor, is no excuse for not competing on the world stage. Saying that their own regional ranking will more accurately reflect the region’s performance than the world rankings amounts to joining a neighborhood soccer tournament rather than the World Cup.

Instead of being dismissed or ignored, world rankings such as the one released last week should make the front pages in Latin America (and in the United States, too) if nothing else to remind us how Asian countries are steadily rising in the global knowledge economy, while many of our countries in the Americas are being left increasingly behind.