Monday, April 10, 2006

Presidential Elections - I'm speechless

"Pucha! Nos Cagamos!", those were my aunts words were when I asked her about the elections yesterday.

Basically, Ollanta Humala is in the lead of the race. With 30% of the popular votes, he has secured his place in the second running (this due to the lack of a majority vote). From a democratic perspective, this is not a good sign. He has promised to 'share the wealth' of Peru amongst the excluded population; the non-european descent population. Which ideally, it is a great concept but very unfeasible with a country like mine - Peru. Peru needs foreign investment to boost the economy, provide for more jobs and be able to remain expanding the growth that the country has been going through for the past 52 months. Having a Peru follow the Chavez-Venezulean model just brings more chaos, foreign animosity and he (Ollanta) will most likely overthrow the congress to build a new one to his favor. Thus, installing a dictatorship like Chavez did in Venezuela.

Cuba and Venezuela are not in good shape. If you believe that with an income of $12/mo, one can get by easily, well you are mistaken. I ask, plead and basically beg for all my fellow peruvians to gather people to vote for the opposing party, whoever that may be at this point. If Alan Garcia heads to the second round... (can't belive I am saying this but) please choose him; he is the less of two evils.

At 11pm (Peruvian time), Alan Garcia leads with 24.93 and Lourdes follows with 24.03. That is nine tenths of a difference and with 80% of the ballots counted. Lourdes Flores needs 91,000 votes to level out the playing field. My main questions are 1) Why on earth is Alan Garcia running again? Does he not kow what else to do with his life?) 2) Most importantly, why does he have any votes in this election?
Do people forget that easily? Or are us, Peruvians, that confused?
Do we not remember the rationing of food? Inflation? the devalue of the 'Inti' currency where people lost almost everything? the uprise of the maoist groups MRTA and Sendero Luminoso (shining path) and the beginning of their infiltration in Lima? National curfews? and the 'disappearance' of gold in the Peruvian Bank of Reserve? ... was twenty years ago such a long time ago?

In other news, I also got to cautch a glimpse of the footage of Ollanta's disgraced appearance at the University of Ricardo Palma while he was trying to cast his vote. Masses of peruvians sat outside the locale yelling and yanting, "Asesino!", "Ollanta Maricon" and "Ollanta Y Montesinos.. la misma porqueria!". I was completely distraught by seeing people yelling and literally throwing themselves against Ollanta and his wife in attemps to block their exit. I could imagine being stuck in that crowd and fainting. It was a sight to see - complete and utter chaos.

Also, some peculiar news afloated after the footage of Humala during his Ricardo Palma experience, where he was also filmed shacking hands with some Venezulean electoral officials who traveled to Peru to 'help' in this presidential election. Aside from this, there was also a speech by Chavez in national venezuelan channel where he promotes Humala's candidacy to the Peruvian presidency, and associates it with Bolivar's failed dream of the 'unified' South American States (modeled after the United States unification, but with socialistic credo). And lastly, there was a report that Ollanta Humala gave a special interview to a venezuelan news show on the day after his secured spot in the second running; something he has yet to do in Peru... the country where he is wanting to become President, and is supposedly most concerned to promote social change.

This race is becoming to nerve wrecking for my family, my peruvian friends and myself. We are in the midst of a nervous breakdown. This is either the beginning of the end of Peru, or the begining of a more hopeful future. The only thing left to do is to keep the last morsel of hope and hold on to it. We still have yet to find out the votes in the exterior since only 3% of them have been counted, as well as the 2,000 ballots in Lima that are yet to be determined by the ONPE. All is left is to just sit and wait... and keep the hope.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Being a Californian, well let me rephrase it... living in the Bay Area, I hold true the stereotype of liberal/anti-war person. It was about three years ago that U.S. Troops headed for Iraq to withdraw Mr. Hussein from his dictatorship, install a democracy ("freedom") in Iraq and disarm them of WMD's. Well... that is what we were told.
Three years later, Iraq is in what I call a state of civil war. Many people (Iraquis and Americans) are dying each day in this sectarian war of Sunni vs. Shiite communities.
Aside from the question: What went wrong?? Which I know most people know the answer to. The Bush Administration still fails to see the reality of things. A whole country cannot be rebuilt in a matter of, let's say, 5 years. Specially when a country has such strong religious ties where people are more than willing to die for their beliefs. I was glad to see this article by Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post who also shares my views in light of these horrific events.

During GW's most recent public appearance (with a speech that lasted about 30 min.), he spoke about the importance of Hussein's removal from power. One of GW's quotes from his speech was:

"most of the country has remained relatively peaceful,"

Yes.. Exactly! Most of the country of Iraq has remained peaceful??!! Since most of the populous and volient areas are located in the center of the nation.

Then when the part of answering questions began, unsurprisingly, these were his retorts:

To a question about false premises for going to war; that Iraq was developing weapons of mass destruction, that it was buying materials for nuclear weapons and that it was becoming a haven for terrorists; Bush replied: "I asked the very same question: Where did we go wrong on intelligence?"

A high school student, asserting that the war was costing $19,600 per household, wondered whether that money could be put to better use as college tuition aid. "We can do more than one thing at a time," Bush replied.
"I asked the very same question: Where did we go wrong on intelligence"??
Note: This is being asked by the Head of State of the World's Superpower.. hmmm.

"We can do more than one thing at a time"
Note: Yes.. very true but nothing of that sort has not been done.. yet!

All I can say is that, whatever we are doing... it's obviously not working. I have no idea what turmoil awaits us in the future,
but it is clear that more people are dying everyday and there still has not been 'freedom' installed in Iraq.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Every 3 hours someone dies in Peruvian traffic.

Peru has the most automobile related accidents in all of South America. Every 3 hours someone dies, and every 18 minutes an accident occurs. The numbers do not only reflect accidents occuring in Lima, but it also incorporates numbers state wide.

I am not surprised by this. Having lived in Peru and frequently going back home, this number is very likely. The traffic is so horrible that I am scared to drive in streets of Lima. I can only go to E. Wong in La Aurora .. and that is asking too much from me. To paint a picture, just imagine driving on a two lane street that is made into a five lane street, with buses cutting you off, pedestrians walking in front of you (as if they were asking to get hit), combis brushing past you in a hurry to get people, small ticos (see picture) crossing at an intersection knowing that you car is about 10 feet away...and with having Taxis all around you in a craze to get customers... This is what I encountered when driving through the ever-so-congested 'Ovalo de Higuereta'.
"Nunca mas!!", I said.

Well that is what traffic in Peru is all about. I think one needs a different sort of license there. Sometimes it is not only the driver's fault, the pedestrian is also to blame. People just cross the street without looking both ways.
Even my grandma seldomly does this during a trip to Plaza Vea.

One time she said:
"They'll stop for
me.. they see that I am old lady.. just walk slow and they will see you"
....yeah right!
We are lucky that we live in an suburban area, otherwise I would not let her leave the house.

My grandma is the least of the problems. The biggest problem in pedestrian control is in the Carretera Panamericana Sur/Norte (Panamerican Highway) where people actually cross the highway even though a pedestrian overpass is located 50 feet away from them. Everytime we have gone to the beach, I see people running across a highway. The worst case scenario was when a mother was holding her child's hand while crossing....Well, people do this!

I hope that with the newly elected government such traffic related issues can be addressed. This is not solely a problem that deals with accidents, but also a problem with putting a strict hand in the law, promoting self-awareness and placing more regulation in the transpotation system of Peru. This is a diffuclt feat, but there must be a way to control or at least reduce the number of accidents and casualties occuring in the streets of Lima.
* Article in Spanish located here

Day in Pictures

SFGate has an arsenal of pictures for public view. 'A Day in Pictures' section has photos from all over the world. They are not only aesthetically interesting, but some shots are dumbfounding, shocking and funny. These are my favorites of today.

This glacier, located in Argentina, is slowly melting. Any small fraction of a glacier that falls brings danger to every coast along it's periphery. The more this glacier melts, both the sea and the river levels rise, thus inundating nearing communities.This pictures captures the exact moment a part of the glacier falls. I wonder what was going on through the spectator's minds while watching this...

*Here is thorough article on the d
angers of Glacial Melting that threatens South American countries like Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina.

This picture has great composition.. to say the least. The Acropolis looks like it is being illuminated by the heavens. It seems like some form of darkness is trying to cover up the sky, but its attempts fail when a downward projected light illuminates this famous pagan monument.
It is such an impressing shot. Timing is everything.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Google Outterspace

I have always been a fan of Google Earth. My friend Anatoli and I spent an entire night gazing at different cities from all over the world, trust me, it was fun. I was mostly amazed at the clarity of each picture. Well now, the unveiling of Google Mars and Google Moon... well ..'My Unveiling'!

Here is the story.

This is new to the public. Can you imagine what is not available to the public?

Monday, March 13, 2006

New Poll

¿Si gana Ollanta Humala, Ud. se quedaría o se iría del Perú?

Me quedaría (56 votes) Picture (Metafile)45.53%
Me iría (67 votes) Picture (Metafile)54.47%

(Total de Votos: 123 )

I would feel the same way if he is elected.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Chile: Un Roba Culturas?

This may offend some of you, specially if you are from Chile or have
Chilean descent, but my main question is:
Why does the Chilea
n goverment or it's people feel the need to 'steal' (call 'theirs') certain objects/things deriving from other cultures and make them theirs??

This was
apparent to me sometime ago when I was told that Chile wanted to pattent the liquor called Pisco. Pisco is a national drink of Peru, and it is closely related to the Italian Grappa. Pisco comes from the city Pisco in the province of Ica (see map).

The reason why the Chilean government felt that Pisco was a 'Chilean' product was because Chilean companies sought to make a profit by exporting this peruvian liquor.
The peruvian government saw that
Pisco was being
confused as a
'Chilean' and were
quick to take judicial matters into
their own hands.
Not only did Peru pattent the product, but in order to clarify any misunderstanding, a National Pisco Day was created.

On February 4th of every year it is Pisco Sour Day in Peru. I had the
fortune of being in Peru during this time, and I got to savor the delicious peruvian d
rink in most stores. A grocery store by my house, E.Wong, was giving samples of not only Pisco Sour but of other drinks that also contained Pisco for free to the public.

Another story of this sort came to my attention via Danica (my bolivian friend) that is similiar to the 'Pisco - Chile' fiasco. This deals with an instrument called, charango, used in Andean Music deriving from Bolivia. The charango is closely associated with a guitar but has smaller proportions and a distinct sound. It seems that Chile has confused this instrument to be theirs. Not only is this confusion prevalent in the Chilean nation, but it was also passed on to international figures, like U2's Bono. Here is the story. (Gracias Dani)

Gobierno explicará a Bono que el charango es boliviano

El gobierno boliviano enviará una carta al cantante del grupo U2, Bono
para explicarle que el charango que le regaló recientemente el
presidente de Chile, Ricardo Lagos, es un instrumento musical de
origen boliviano y no chileno.

Así lo hizo saber a Efe el viceministro de Cultura, Edgar Arandia,
quien sostuvo que la misiva presentará argumentos de la Sociedad del
Charango Boliviano para justificar esa afirmación.

El funcionario anunció además que propondrá al presidente de su país,
Evo Morales, que en la próxima transmisión de mando en Chile, el 11 de
marzo, le regale una réplica de este instrumento de cuerda andino a la
futura gobernante, Michelle Bachelet, como forma de reivindicación.

Dijo que se ha puesto en contacto con uno de los fabricantes de
objetos musicales más reconocidos de Bolivia, Adrián Villanueva, para
obtener una pieza que esté a la altura de un regalo presidencial.

"Creemos que esta es una oportunidad especial por ser un acto
internacional que va a tener mayor trascendencia que cualquier carta
de queja", opinó.

El pasado domingo, Lagos regaló un charango al cantante de U2, al
recibirlo en el Palacio de La Moneda, lo que causó controversia en
Bolivia y llevó al viceministro de Cultura a manifestar que las
autoridades de La Paz no se atreverían "a enviar un moai de la Isla de
Pascua como patrimonio boliviano".

According to this article from, the Chilean President had given the lead singer of the internationally famous rock band, U2, a 'Chilean present' as a token of appreciation for visiting their country. The charango was presented to Bono as a typical instrument from the Chilean culture.
This upset not only the Bolivian population, but also Bolivian officials. After this incident, the goverment of Bolivia quickly sent a letter to the lead singer to clarify the descent of the charango
as a Bolivian instrument; not Chilean.

But it is not only Pisco and the Charango that have been thought of as 'Chilean'. It is also 'El Caballo de Paso' and the dessert 'Suspiro Limeno' are thought to be Chilean as well.
First of all, El Caballo de Paso, is a type of horse from the peruvian viceroyalty legacy. Secondly, 'Suspiro Limeno' derives from Lima, hence the name of the dessert. Here are other views on this fallacy.

Come on!!! What happened to your originality Chile???

But if you ask, 'What's the big deal?'
Well the big deal is as such. Every Latino country has their own culture, own history, own traditions, etc. We pride on our culture because that is what separates is from the rest; it is what makes each nation unique. Our cultures are what identifies us, and if you take any part away from a culture, you take some of the identity away.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Could the SD Abortion Law challenge Roe v. Wade??

The 1973 the landmark case, Roe v. Wade, made it illegal to ban abortions in all states. This ruling caused such upheaval, that a series of grassroots movements were created to either contest or uphold this law. Ever since the 1970's there have been many cases that fought Roe v. Wade.. but none turned out successful.

In light on today's changes, (i.e. the retirement of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, and the appointment of Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito, both conservatives), the pro-life movement and/or conservative parties feel this law can be overruled if taken to the Suprem
e Court. This is something of huge interest because it affects (directly and indirectly) the life of every American.

I refuse to state my opinion in this matter, and those know me well, know my thoughts on this issue.

But the true matter at hand is the newly instated law signed by the Governor Rounds that bans almost all abortions in the state of South Dakota. With this law, all doctors who are found guilty of practicing abortions will face up to 5 years of encarceration. This could be another start of pro-life cases that will challenge and may even overrule Roe. v. Wade.

(Gov. Rounds signing abortion ban, photo courtesy of

The valid points on both sides are as followed.
The pro-life movement believe in the rights of the unborn child as stated in the Fourteenth Amendment. They believe that the Constitution should be interpreted on a literal basis, in by which abortions would have been banned and deemed unethical during the time this amendment was created (1868). This literal understanding of the Fourteenth Amendment is an intrical part to the understanding of what constitutes a 'person'. In their view, a fetus is a person, a unborn human being who derserves a voice and the right to a life. Furthermore, they are afraid that allowing women to abort may lead to using this procedure as a method of contraception.

The opposing view, pro-choice, believe that the right of an abortion is a right of women's privacy. They believe that banning abortion is not a strong state interest, and to outlaw a 'woman's right to choose' would be unconstitutional. Another little fact is that before this case, women in the higher economic tiers had an advantage in getting abortions (having the ability to travel either out-of-state or abroad for these procedures), thus leaving the women facing economic strife with no other choice than receiving abortions from incompetent doctors, or doing this procedure themselves. This posed a great threat to the health of these women, and as a way of leveling the field, lobbyists/supporters believed that legalizing abortions would serve as a benefit for minorities.

As known, the Supreme Court ruled (with a 7-2 vote) that the privacy issue emcompasses the right of a woman's choice in receiving an abortion. In addition, the justices found no general concensus regarding the constitutional intrepretation on the definition of a 'person' having the same meaning as a 'fetus'. Hence, Roe v. Wade was enacted into law....

This is of great interest to me, not only because I studied this case thoroughly in college, but because it is such a delicate subject and every opinion is valid and justifiable.