Peru: Morning News Roundup – Tuesday February 5

Toledo Slams Dirty Politics in Peru

Former Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo supports accusations of judicial harassment against opposition politicians made by PNP (Nationalist Party) leader Ollanta Humala, for whom the attorney general is asking a 15-year sentence. Toledo, who arrived on the weekend from the US, where he is residing, has also been the object of legal imputations, and urged the government to stop harassing political leaders and potential candidates for the 2011 elections. He also pronounced against the proposed 15-year sentence and exile for Humala, and added he respects him despite their huge disagreements. In the meantime, the PNP leader sustained his denunciation that the government is resorting to judicial harassment because it wants to eliminate the opposition. (Prensa Latina – click here to read complete article)

Peru rules out possibility of exporting natural gas to Chile

"La República" newspaper reported today that Peru has ruled out the possibility of exporting natural gas from the Camisea deposit to Chile, due to a desire to expand consumption within the country’s domestic market. According to the periodical, Juan Valdivia, the Peruvian Minister of Energy and Mines, stated that "there are no doubts regarding this matter. There is no contract to export natural gas to Chile". "We are interested in expanding the use of natural gas so that we don’t have to depend on liquid products such as gasoline and oil, we want to reduce production costs and we do not plan to export more natural gas", said the minister. Valdivia made it clear that the only contract that exists for exporting natural gas from the Camisea deposit is one that Peru has with conglomerate formed by Hunto Oil and Repsol to export 4.2 trillion cubic feet in 20 years. (emol – click here to read complete article)

Gold production plunges in Peru

Production of gold in Peru has fallen by 50 per cent in the last three years, it has been claimed. Citing an Expreso report, Living in Peru says that Ysaac Cruz, president of the National Mining, Petroleum and Energy Association, has expressed concern over whether the country can continue to compete in the global gold mining market. According to a report from the Peruvian mining and energy ministry, gold production experienced a drop of 19 per cent last year, compared with 2006 levels – a statistic that could have a positive bearing on gold prices. The figures appear to back up findings from GFMS that suggest Peru’s gold bullion production fell by 17 per cent last year, making it one of the worst hit countries in the world. (Gold News – click here to read complete article)

Labor Reform Boosts Competitiveness

Latin America is one of the most inflexible labor markets in the world. It is difficult to imagine a more dysfunctional labor situation than what currently exists in Latin America. Costs for hiring new employees and firing unnecessary ones make Latin America one of the most inflexible labor markets in the world, throttling the private sector’s capacity to increase productiveness and discouraging new investment. On the labor side, the laws have done little good as well. Constraints on formally hiring new employees have dampened employment growth, increasing the ranks of the jobless and those employed outside the law. These informal workers, who represent close to half of the region’s workforce, exist on the margins of the economy and society, often with few legal and social protections. (Latin Business Chronicle – click here to read complete article by Christopher Sabatini)

Afro-Latin celebration

The Afro-Latin music ensemble Peru Negro will be at Fitchburg State College on Thursday, heating up a winter’s night with South American flare. The roots of Peru Negro’s exotic sound go back to the 1600s when the slave trade brought Africans to the Andes. Peru Negro formed in 1969, dedicating itself to presenting and preserving the historic legacy of so-called black Peru. Performing with an eclectic array of instruments, including the signature box-style drums, the group’s unique sound was celebrated first in its homeland and then exported with the album “Jolgorio” in 2004. (Telegram.com – click here to read complete article by Scott McLennan)

Scotia Gets CentAm, Caribbean Assets

Scotiabank has agreed to acquire assets from Chile’s Grupo Altas Cumbres. Scotia will get Altas’ Banco de Antigua in Guatemala and select assets of Banco de Ahorro y Credito Altas Cumbres in the Dominican Republic. In addition, Scotia has the option to purchase Banco del Trabajo in Peru. The bank did not disclose terms of the transaction, which is expected to be finalized within days. (Latin Finance)