Peru: Morning News Roundup – Friday February 22

Strike closes main access to Machu Picchu

Rail access to the ancient Incan city of Machu Picchu, Peru’s leading tourist attraction, was shut down Thursday after workers went on strike against private development around archaeological sites. The regional workers’ federation in Cuzco, the staging place for travel to the mountain-top citadel, called for workers to block key roads in the city for 48 hours. The private British company PeruRail, which operates tourist trains between Cuzco and Machu Picchu, said it decided to suspend traffic during the strike in order to avoid incidents. The protests were called against a new law which would permit private firms to set up shop in the areas close to Peru’s archaeological sites. Protesters branded the law an "affront to the heritage" of the country. (AFP – click here to read complete article)

Peru protesters block roads to oppose development, force closure of train to famed Inca ruins

Protesters piled rocks and trees onto roads on Thursday and forced the closure of a tourist train to the famed ruins of Machu Picchu to demand Peru scrap two new laws allowing more development near archaeological and historic sites. Police were escorting tourists along the streets of the ancient Inca capital of Cuzco and working to clear roadblocks, police chief Mauro Medina told reporters. He said officers fired tear gas at some 200 protesters who stormed Cuzco’s airport, which authorities shut down hours earlier as a precaution. PeruRail, which operates the only train line to Machu Picchu — Peru’s top tourist destination — announced the suspension of service on Thursday and Friday for the duration of the 48-hour protest. Lawmakers last week ratified the disputed laws — originally approved late last year — which will permit the construction of new hotels and restaurants near archaeological and historic sites. The laws were modified three days later to let regional governments decide whether to apply them. (AP – click here to read complete article)

Peru Garcia: Strikers Terrorists

The Peruvian president Alan García confirmed his administration policy against protests that are in their fourth day and have caused four deaths and thousands of injured. The Head of State held that his government won’t permit the disorder and that a terrorist minority is organizing the strikes, claiming "The minority that answers to terrorists unions is the one that promotes the 48 hour general strike initiated this Thursday, with illegal marches in Cusco against a law that facilitates the private business installation in the archaeological ruins. "We have information that many people that still answer to terrorist unions are frustrated by the interruption of their plans and wishes, and now are motivating, inciting and moving people in favour of the standstill," he said. He acknowledged the right to strike, but said that destruction is a very serious crime and wondered if the armed group Sendero Luminoso or foreigners are behind the protests. (Prensa Latina – click here to read complete article)

Credicorp May Issue Bonds This Year After All, Morales Says

Credicorp Ltd., Peru’s largest financial holding company, reversed its decision not to sell more bonds this year and said it’s likely to issue debt in the second half to increase lending. Banco de Credito, the company’s banking unit and Peru’s largest bank, needs money to fund lending and a $150 million expansion plan, Chief Executive Officer Raimundo Morales Dasso said in a Bloomberg Television interview on Feb. 19. The lender sought $300 million in syndicated loans earlier this month and ended up getting $450 million from banks led by JPMorgan Chase & Co., Wachovia Corp. and Standard Chartered Plc. “This is a year of investment where we’ll increase the number of our branch offices by 20 percent,” said Morales, 61, who will retire in April and be replaced by Chief Financial Officer Walter Bayly. “During the year we’ll have to carry out some bond sales to increase our capitalization if lending continues to grow as we believe it will.” Bayly said earlier this month the Lima-based bank was lending faster than deposits were coming in and it needed to bolster reserves. Last year Credicorp sold $660 million in debt to finance corporate and mortgage loans. Bayly said on Feb. 7 no further bond sales were planned this year. (Bloomberg – click here to read complete story by Karla Palomo and Alex Emery)

High oil prices and climatic change prompt call for clean energy sources

It was no accident that the Incas adored Inti, the sun god. Anyone who has felt the blaze high in the Andes has a rough idea of just how powerful the sun is. The same is true of the strong winds that hit Peru’s long, Pacific coast. But renewable energy resources such as solar and wind power had rarely entered in debates over Peru’s energy sources, and mainly by academic circles and nongovernmental organizations researched or implemented small local projects. But things are changing. The Ministry of Energy and Mines last May held the first Congress on Biofuels and Renewable Energy and has been promoting a series of workshops and meetings on the subject with the private sector. The interest in renewable energy for Peru follows in the footsteps of global efforts to seek alternative energy amid the skyrocketing price of oil. “The biofuels boom that attracts big international players” is also a factor, says Javier Coello, director of the Intermediate Technology Development Group, a nongovernmental organization that has worked for several decades to promote alternative energy in development programs. (Latin America Press – click here to read complete article by Hildegard Willer)