Peru: Morning News Roundup – Monday February 25

Times column exacerbates Yale-Peru negotiations

After former Peruvian first lady writes that Yale is ‘acting in an arrogant, neo-colonial manner,’ University pushes back. The epic saga between Yale and Peru escalated this weekend — in the pages of The New York Times. In a guest column published Saturday, Eliane Karp de Toledo, Peru’s former first lady, harshly criticized the Memorandum of Understanding that the current Peruvian government and Yale signed in September. On Sunday, University officials struck back at Karp de Toledo in interviews, questioning the validity of her claims and the nature of her motives. The memorandum of understanding — a copy of which the News obtained from Karp de Toledo last month — was celebrated by both parties as the end to a nearly century-long dispute between Yale and Peru over the rightful ownership of Inca artifacts that Yale explorer Hiram Bingham III excavated from Machu Picchu between 1911 and 1915. But, Yale officials have said, political disagreement in Peru has stalled the negotiations surrounding a final agreement. On Sunday, Karp de Toledo — whose husband Alejandro Toledo will be eligible to seek Peru’s highest office again in 2011 — said she hopes her piece will clear the slate in the negotiations and force the parties to start anew. (Yale Daily News – click here to read complete article by Paul Needham)

Scientists discover ruins in Peru dating 5,500 years

A team of archeologists have discovered the ruins of the oldest known structures in Peru, erected 5,500 years ago, the Lima daily El Comercio reported. The discovery is a sunken, circular plaza, situated in the coastal zone of Casma in the norther Ancash department, which according to 25 carbon-dating tests was first built around the year 3,500 BC. Nearly 2,000 years later, another structure measuring 180 by 120 metres was added onto it, the report said. Peter Fuchs, director of the Sechin Bajo archeological project, said the discovery appeared to confirm the first societies in what is now Peru with ceremonial centres were in Casma, 300 kilometres north of Lima, "Whoever built Sechin Bajo had advanced knowledge of architecture and construction. This is clearly seen in the handling given to the materials so that the buildings would be consistent," Fuchs said. The prime material was stone transported from nearby hills. The original plaza served for meetings and socializing, the scientists said. A second stage included adjacent buildings, and the final stage resulted in the largest structure with various patios, curved corners and niched walls. (Earth Times – click here to read complete article)

S. American rent-a-cops drawn to Iraq war

Sometimes he wakes up with a shudder, thinking he needs to take cover, fast. At other moments he dreams he’s running and the mortar shell strikes again, fiery shards of metal ripping through his flesh. "I take pills to help me sleep," Gregorio Calixto says, proffering a box of cheap over-the-counter medication, the only kind he can afford. He is one of several thousand Latin Americans who have taken jobs with U.S. contractors as security guards in Iraq and Afghanistan. About 1,200 Peruvians are in Iraq, mostly guarding sites in Baghdad’s Green Zone. Although most appear to have returned to Latin America safely and with enough cash to buy houses, taxis and businesses, others, such as Calixto, have been unlucky: seriously injured in Iraq and left to negotiate a labyrinthine and what he terms inadequate U.S. insurance system. The primary recruiter in Peru is Triple Canopy. The Virginia-based company founded by U.S. Special Forces and Delta Force veterans defends its practices. Peruvians are treated no differently from U.S. employees, the company says, and 85 percent sign up for extensions. (Twin Cities – click here to read complete article by Patrick J. McDonnell)

Peru to Increase Spending to Offset Economic Slowdown

Peru’s government will increase spending in a bid to offset the effects of the U.S. economic slowdown, Finance Minister Luis Carranza said. President Alan Garcia will boost government outlays by about 30 percent this year after a 46 percent increase in 2007, Carranza said in a speech in Lima today. “After two years of fiscal surplus, we’re in position to use public spending to maintain economic growth,” Carranza said. “We’re being more flexible with spending curbs.” Peru, which is riding its longest-ever economic expansion, increased exports by 16 percent to a record $27.6 billion last year on surging prices of metals, natural gas and fishmeal, spurring 9 percent economic growth in 2007. The government plans to use its own funds to finance an $800 million buyback of Peru’s Brady bonds before March 7 as interest rates are too high on the bond market, Carranza said. The government might sell bonds on either the domestic or international markets later this year, he said. (Bloomberg – click here to read complete article by Alex Emery)

Peru to fund Brady buyback with cash or debt -min

Peru will fund an $800 million buyback of Brady Bonds slated for March with cash on-hand or a bond sale, depending on the tone of financial markets, the finance minister said on Friday. If credit markets fail to firm up soon, the government would use its own cash to fund the buyback and then sell bonds at a later date, Luis Carranza told reporters at an economics seminar. "What we are seeing with this buyback of Brady Bonds for more than $800 million is the possibility of financing it … in part with a bond sale. Market conditions aren’t the best, so we will wait a little to see how they shape up," Carranza said. "If market conditions aren’t good we will temporarily use the resources of the Treasury. When market conditions improve we could sell bonds," he said. He said the buyback should happen by March 7. (Reuters – click here to read complete story)