Peru: Morning News Roundup – Friday February 29

Witness changes story on Fujimori

An ex-army officer accused of running a death squad in the 1990s says former President Alberto Fujimori never gave orders to violate human rights. Santiago Martin Rivas also denied the existence of the death squad of which he has been convicted of membership. Giving testimony at the trial, Mr Martin Rivas said he had never received orders from Mr Fujimori to carry out massacres, and dismissed accusations that he had met him. It was a dramatic about-face for the former army intelligence officer, who previously said that Mr Fujimori had known about and authorised the death squad killings for which he is on trial. (BBC News – click here to read complete article by Dan Collyns)

Peru declares emergency in areas hit by flooding

Torrential rains and floods have killed 16 people, left 24 missing and destroyed highways and homes since January, Peru’s civil defense agency said on Thursday as the government declared a state of emergency in four districts. The La Nina weather phenomenon, characterized by cooler than normal sea-surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean, has been blamed for exacerbating rainy seasons in the Andes region this year. Nearly half a million people have been affected by the rains, which started two months ago and have fallen hardest in the interior and on Peru’s northern coast. Emergencies were declared in the districts of Tumbes, Piura, Lambayeque and Ucayali. "The magnitude of the situation demands the adoption of immediate measures that allow Indeci (Peru’s civil defense agency), regional and local governments to take action to deal with the emergency and the rehabilitation of affected areas," the government said. (Reuters – click here to read complete article)

Peru’s Economy Expanded 9.1 Percent in Fourth Quarter

Peru’s economy in the fourth quarter expanded at the fastest in 12 years, led by construction and manufacturing, stoking concern that inflation may quicken. Gross domestic product, the broadest measure of a country’s output of goods and services, rose 9.1 percent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, up from 8.9 percent in the third quarter, the government said. Growth was less than the 9.7 percent median estimate of eight economists in a Bloomberg survey. Peru’s accelerating economic growth may lead to faster inflation, said Boris Segura, an economist at Morgan Stanley in New York. Domestic demand rose 12 percent in the fourth quarter, outstripping the pace of the country’s economic expansion. “The economy’s overheating,” Segura said. “Unlike many of the region’s economies, Peru’s accelerated in the second half of 2007 from already high levels. With inflation in the background, this will be a challenge for the central bank.” (Bloomberg – click here to read complete article by Sebastian Boyd)

Peru’s ex-president Toledo warns Latin American poverty could undermine economy

Despite strong economic growth in Latin America, more than 40 percent of the region’s population was still living in poverty that threatened future prospects, former Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo said Thursday. Toledo told the Associated Press that world governments needed to address the Latin American poverty issue, which he said could lead to political instability and end up harming the economy in the long term. Poverty has also been blamed for fueling emigration from the region. «If we’re not able to confront this challenge of reducing significant poverty … then poverty itself could constitute an impediment for the needed sustained rates of economic growth to continue,» Toledo said in an interview, after meeting with former U.S. President Jimmy Carter about how his Atlanta-based Carter Center could help address Latin American poverty. (AP – click here to read complete article)

Forex – Dollar Sets New Multi-year Low Against Peru’s Nuevo Sol [USD/PEN]

The US dollar weakened against the Peru’s currency in early New York trading on Thursday. At about 12:25 pm ET, the pair plunged into a new multi-year low of 2.8925, compared to yesterday’s close of 2.8935. (RTT News – click here to see update)

Horse from Peru may be Derby-bound

Six months after Street Sense came from near last place to capture the Kentucky Derby, another son of Street Cry rallied from a similar 20 lengths back to win another Derby. This one was Peru’s Group 1 Derby Nacional, won by the Kentucky-born Tomcito, whose owners are now looking at a possible run on the first Saturday in May. Tomcito is the only horse among the 449 nominees for the Triple Crown who not only has won at our Derby’s 1¼-mile distance but also the Belmont Stakes’ 1½ miles (that was the Derby Nacional.) Only two other nominees have attempted even 1¼ miles. Even more intriguing, Tomcito did it while biologically still a 2-year-old competing against horses some six months his elder because they were born in South America, whose official birth date for thoroughbreds is July 1, rather than our Jan. 1. To such young horses, even several months makes a huge difference in their development. (Courier-Journal – click here to read complete article by Jennie Rees)