North Korea

North Korea
The always bombastic and unpredictable North Koreans go hysterical again. This time the country is prepared to "go to war" with South Korea because that country is playing loudspeakers directed at North Korean territory. A headline from a UK paper reads, "More than 50 North Korea submarines 'leave their bases' as war talks with South continue "

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Chile's volcano and Peru's new leader

Leaving behind the seemingly endless heartbreak and violence of the Arab world for a moment, two newsworthy items from South America are worth sharing.

Chile, that long thin country in South America squeezed between the sea and a high mountain range, has had a spectacular volcanic eruption this past few days. Far from the American-European flight routes, it has not received much coverage, but the ash and dust have canceled plenty of flights, as well as blanketing neighboring countries such as Argentina.

Chile was in the news most recently when 33 miners were rescued from a collapsed mine ...

Click on picture for complete image
The eruption stimulates lightning in this spectacular apocalyptic picture

A more pastoral scene, modest houses with the eruption in the background

Beyond the spectacular photographs and forceful reminders of nature's power, living with a volcano is hard on both humans and animals

Peru - the country just to the north of Chile, held its presidential election in the past few days, electing a former soldier who has promised to share more of the wealth of the nation's mines with the poor.

Peru is a little smaller than Alaska, and has a population of over 20 million. With no direct access to the sea, a portion of the country is high altitude and mountainous with the famous Machu Pichu ruins, but also a larger low elevation jungle contributing to the headwaters of the Amazon river. Peru has a higher percentage of land area protected in national parks and preserves than any other country in South America

The newspaper, Financial Times, pointed out just following the election the true impact of the new President. "The final results for Peru’s presidential election have yet to be declared, but it seems that Ollanta Humala has won. Many Peruvian businessmen and foreign investors in the country have already reacted to this result with disappointment – and even dread. The stock market plunged the morning after the result became clear.

But the fear of a President Humala could well be overdone. If you judge Peru’s new leader by his campaign rhetoric, then he intends to stick with the market-friendly policies that have made Peru one of the fastest-growing economies in Latin America.

It is true that Mr Humala has also promised higher taxes to fund social reforms – such as better pensions, a higher minimum wage and day-care for the children of working mothers. But Peru could certainly afford – and probably needs – such a programme, if it is carried out responsibly.

Peru’s economy grew at 9 per cent last year. Its national debt is low. Mr Humala wants to increase the tax take from 15 per cent to 18 per cent of GDP – not unreasonable in a nation where many people still lack access to basic necessities such as running water..."

After the election was official, from another news account,
"Peru's president-elect Ollanta Humala met with former Brazilian President Lula da Silva and praised him for fostering economic growth while reducing poverty in Latin America's biggest country.

One assumes that before President Elect Humala met with former Brazil president Lula Silva, he met Brazil's current president, Dilma Rousseff, as shown here.

He said he will not copy programs like those of Brazil or Venezuela because Peru must find its own way to help the poor. Humala was once close to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. But in his campaign and since, he has painted himself as a center-leftist more in the mold of Silva."

So, let's do hope that Peru will follow the positive example provided by Brazil, the powerhouse on the South American continent that has conducted itself with care and attention to its economy and social conditions over the past several decades. We need more countries in South America, like Chile and Brazil to provide positive examples for their neighbors.

Peru's mines provide a significant amount of its wealth.

One of Peru's national dishes is Ceviche - a form of citrus-marinated sea-food salad. Among its many variations, raw fish is composted with lime or lemon juice, sliced onion, minced Peruvian aj√≠ limo and Andean chilli. The marinated mixture is served at room temperatures. Often it’s accompanied by canchita (chunks of corn, sliced sweet potato and seaweed).


Sarah said...

Ceviche is awesome!

It would be a nice change to see an elected leader make some positive changes...

Teatree said...

Where did you eat Ceviche? The "raw" put up a barrier in my mind - not an insurmountable one, but I would need an endorsement.

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