John Mahar's Blog

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

It seems time for another Peru update. What´s going on here? Well, the trial of Fujimori is dragging along. Most of the folks I talk to don´t think anything is going to happen to him. All of the witnesses are guilty of war crimes, apparently, and so they beat around the bush in their testimony to avoid implicating themselves, and by the by avoid implicating Fujimori as well. Of course I could be mistaken, and so could the people I talk to.

Huaraz is awash in capital, it seems. New buildings are going up, and, compared to 4 years ago (and even 2 years ago) the tourism development has really kicked into high gear. Lots of places here have wireless internet, so travelers with laptops don´t have to pay the almost 35 cents an hour internet cafe rates.

I know a handful of what amount to small business people here, and they are all doing well. Zarela, who runs the hostel in which I stay, is full and makes other commission arranging taxis, transport, and climbing support services like donkeys and cooks and porters. Yuri, who has a shop that makes and sells mountaineering cloth-gear, has a constant stream of large orders making uniforms for guiding services around the world. Marco, a guide at Galaxia expeditions, has recently moved his company to a nicer spot, increased marketing, and has plenty of clients.
Chris and Ysa, his wife, run a cafe, and it´s successful enough that Chris is rarely there. He also does logistics like Zarela.

All of this is seasonal, of course, but if the off season were bad, these folks couldn´t have made the improvements they have made.

Prices of commodities, like in the rest of the world, are going up here, but the government subsidizes gas, and claims they won´t raise the price until next year. Chicken, for example, just jumped almost 15%. The president (Garcia)´s average approval rating is about 30%, which is a lot better than the 6% of the former president the last time I was here. In comparison, in Bolivia, Evo Morales has an approval rating of 49% and Cristina Kirchner is around 30% as well, if I remember right. Something like that. She has been fighting with farmers over some new tax she put in place that hurts them. Garcia has spent quite a bit on a propaganda campaign talking about all the great things he has done in two years. I´m sure some of them are true, but inertia is hard to fight, and there is a lot of it here.


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