4.40 meters tall and 1.64 meters wide,

Hoping for Miracles, Peru Turns Purple

Published by Latin Correspondent Oct 23

Donning royal purple robes trimmed with white rope, Cristian Montesa waits expectantly to bear his load of the Lord of Miracles litter on his shoulders.

“It’s a mental, spiritual, and physical challenge, as it weighs a lot,” says the member of the fourth division, or cuadrilla, of the Nazarenas brotherhood.

For three centuries, teams of men have hefted the two-and-a-half ton image of Jesus Christ on trusses through the festooned streets of the Peruvian capital of Lima throughout October. Ahead of them, women in white veils sprinkle incense and chants hymns, charting the path for South America’s largest religious procession.

“You feel divine with the Lord at the side,” Montesa adds, with rising anticipation.

A membership card for the eleventh cuadrilla of the Nazarenas Brotherhood.
A membership card for the eleventh cuadrilla of the Nazarenas Brotherhood
A street vendor in front of Lord of Miracles insígnias, ready to sell to the hordes of devotees.
A street vendor in front of Lord of Miracles insignias, ready to sell to the hordes of devotees.

Every October, the Lord of Miracles, or Señor de los Milagros, parade attracts tens of thousands violet-clad worshippers, who follow a float bearing a canvas painting of Christ in acts of veneration.

The name originated after two huge earthquakes that shook Lima in the 17th century razed much of the city to the ground but left the mural of Christ intact.

The image, painted by an Angolan slave, was then copied onto a canvas and paraded around for all to revere. In 1747, Peru’s viceroy ordered the Temple of Nazarenas – where the canvas remains today – to be built to protect it from future tremors

“It’s a Catholic tradition our fathers handed down to us, and their fathers handed down to them,” says Tomas Rie, who has been carrying the litter for 25 years in the fourth cuadrilla.

“Every year more come as they attribute even more miracles to the Lord of Miracles.”

A ‘sahumadora’, one of 350 women chosen by the brotherhoods, who burn sweet incense during the procession from pure silver pots.
A ‘sahumadora’, one of 350 women chosen by the brotherhoods, who burn sweet incense during the procession from pure silver pots.
Four sahumadoras seated after taking part in their cuadrilla’s section of the route. Being selected is a great honor
Four sahumadoras seated after taking part in their cuadrilla’s section of the route. The selection process is rigorous, with taking part a great honor

Hordes of devotees thronged streets in Lima’s colonial center on Saturday for what is considered the principal procession of the month. Many were physically moved, hands clasped together in prayer and tears streaming.Some with terminal illnesses had traveled far in the hope of cure. Others who had witnessed miracles walked barefoot as a sign of appreciation.

“I feel like I am close to heaven,” says one female devotee, recounting how prayers to the Lord of Miracles ensured her father passed away peacefully after a complicated illness.

“It’s an indescribable feeling, because you see it and you cannot stop crying. I am here to give thanks for all he has done.”

Nine bearers propping up the right side of the litter, weighing about 2.5 tons. As many as 28 men work together to share the load, which is adorned by 450 kilos of silver.
Nine bearers propping up the right side of the litter, weighing about 2.5 tons. As many as 28 men work together to share the load, which is adorned by 450 kilos of silver.

While celebrations are concentrated in Lima, versions in the United States and elsewhere are gaining momentum. The Nazarenas Brotherhood alone has 5,000 members in Lima, while dozens of similar groups have sprung up, both in Peru and abroad, over the years. Wherever major Peruvian populations exist, the faithful increases.

The event’s reconciliation of Peru’s class and racial divisions is also clear. The country’s marginalized black community makes up a large bloc of believers. Due in part to its creation at the hands of the humble Angolan painter, the image is often referred to as ‘Cristo Moreno’ – Black, or dark-skinned, Christ.

During Saturday’s procession, Peru’s President Ollanta Humala made an offering to the litter and the Archbishop of Lima addressed the crowd.

“The air is so full with faith,” says one worshipper. “The Lord of Miracles will always exist.”

Peru’s President Ollanta Humala and ministers look on from the presidential balcony, before the leader came down to crowd level.
Peru’s President Ollanta Humala and ministers look on from the presidential balcony, before the leader came down to crowd level.
The Lord of Miracles procession brings together diverse members of Peru’s different ethnic and racial communities.
The procession brings together diverse members of Peru’s different ethnic and racial communities.

All photos by Alex Pashley


Evolving Drug Trade Could Turn Peru Into Crime Hub

Aggressive global effort needed as cash from cocaine lays siege to democracy, experts say

Published by Anadolu Agency Oct 23

Soaring levels of drug trafficking in Latin America could make Peru a haven for organized crime unless strong international action is taken, drug experts have warned.

Peru, now the world’s top producer of cocaine, could be next to join the ranks of Colombia and Mexico in buckling to the narco trade, as cash from the illegal drug trade infiltrates regional governments.

“In recent years, drug trafficking has advanced at great speed,” Jorge Chavez Cotrina, national coordinator for organized crime at Peru’s attorney general’s office, said during a two-day conference in Lima earlier this week.

“If we don’t make political decisions now there will be serious problems in the future,” Chavez added at the event hosted by Peru’s anti-narcotics agency DEVIDA, and a European Union delegation.

Experts called for coordinated global efforts in intelligence sharing and in tackling money laundering servicing the illicit activity.

Global criminal activity amounted to $2.1 trillion in 2009, according to United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime figures.

Peru couldn’t “escape this reality as a member of the international community,” said the French ambassador to Peru, Jean Jacques Beaussou, nor could it blame “small producers or backpackers.”

Drug trafficking in Peru has transformed in recent years as Mexicans and Brazilians have moved to displace Colombian groups, and rerouted air bridges from north to east. More cocaine now crosses over remote borders to Brazil, now the world’s second cocaine consumer.

Illustrative of the shifting situation, Peru made a record seizure in August of about seven tons of the drug in the northern port town of Trujillo. It belonged to the Mexican Sinoloa cartel, according to police officials.

Drug trafficking was the “most important business in Latin America and the Caribbean,” said Jeremy McDermott, co-director of Insight Crime, a website focusing on the Americas.

McDermott compared it to a “cancer” that maligns every part of a country it touches, “above all through corruption.”

Regional and local elections in Peru this month brought this into sharp focus when Peru’s top anti-drug attorney said as many as 700 candidates may have had drug links.

“We are now a vile mirror of what Colombia was … and what Mexico is today,” said Sonia Medina in comments published by The Associated Press.

The scale of suspected money laundering neared $11 billion in 22,334 cases from 2007 to August 2014, Peru’s cabinet chief Ana Jara said at the event.

Combating the upsurge was “imperative, ethical, and a policy of the state,” she said, announcing a further $62 million (180 million soles) in the country’s drug fight.

The funds will finance crop replacement and social programs, including pensions and education about the dangers of drugs in coca-leaf producing regions.


Peru-Bolivia’s Border Crossing via Desaguadero Made Easy

A guide for getting to Puno to La Paz fast – and without a hitch

Considering flying from Lima to La Paz, but put off by expensive flights? Bit nervy about doing the border crossing on your way across up from Arequipa or down from the Uyuri salt flats, and looking for information?

Look no further.

Crossing the Peru-Bolivia border at Desaguadero is simple and completely legit.

It’s less scenic than the alternative crossing at Copacabana, but if you’re in a hurry you can get from Puno to La Paz in just over five hours.

Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 17.38.24

Here’s my account.

Flying into Juliaca

I flew from Lima to Juliaca to save cash. International flights tend to work out about double for La Paz.

LAN or Avianca airlines fly in total about six times daily.

On getting into Juliaca’s Inca Manco Capac airport, I pre-organized a shuttle bus to Puno which waits outside the tiny arrivals hall. It cost S/.15 and I did it through Rossy Tours travel agency (tel.: 051/366-709). Puno is 45 miles (28 kilometres away) and takes 40 mins to arrive. You can take combis for less, though these will go via the centre of Juliaca and will take longer.

Don’t spend the night in Juliaca. It’s a god foresaken place, dirty, potholed, seedy.

Spend the night in Puno, safer, friendlier, and much more of a tourist destination.

Puno – Desaguadero 

The next morning, take a taxi (no more than 5 soles) to the Terminal Zonal. Be careful not to go to the Terminal Terrestre, which does longer domestic journeys to Arequipa, Cusco, Tacna.

Outside of the smaller terminal, which sits just off of Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest navigable lake (at 3,800 metres altitude), you have two options.

lake t

1. Go by minibus. They carry about 15 people will cost about 10 soles. But they leave less often (waiting until all seats are occupied), are slower and far less comfortable.

2. Take a taxi with three other passengers. This works out at 20 soles, and takes on average two-and-a-half hours.

You won’t get stopped for customs or passport checks on the Peruvian side of the border. On the Bolivian side, it’s more likely.


At Desaguadero

After taking this route round Lake Titicaca, you arrive to the border town of Desaguadero. It’s like all border towns, shabby, full of merchandise, and a bit dodgy.

Still, there are border police on hand and nothing will happen to you.

First, go to Peruvian immigration, a small hall with four officials behind counters. Present your Andean Migration card, which you will have filled when you entered Peruvian territory. If you’re within your allotted time (typically 183 days on a tourist visa; given on entry at the immigration official’s discretion) your passport will be stamped once more, you cede the card, and you leave.

Easy peasy.

Arriving into Desaguadero. Immigration hall to left.

Exchanging soles for bolivianos

Next, change your Peruvian soles to Bolivia’s bolivianos.

The rates are good (exchanging soles for bolivianos

in mid-October 2015, 1 sol = 2.4 bolivianos; on return you get 1 sol for 2.5 bolivianos)

Spot rate was 1 sol = 2.35 bob, 15 October 2014.

It’s legit and do it on the Peruvian side. Don’t haggle; they won’t budge. There are more police and ultimately more cambiastas – women sat on stools with wooden boxes for their change.


Now walk over the bridge connecting the two sides of Desaguadero, adding an extra hour for time difference.

They’ll be various walking salespeople selling all manner of things, from food to key rings to coca leaves.


Bolivia immigration

Walk into Bolivia, take selfie with “Bienvenidos a Bolivia” sign, then walk to the left side of a big building in the middle of the street. That’s the immigration hall.

They’ll usually be a queue and it will be slower on the Bolivian side. At busy times it could take an hour, on slower days 20 mins.

Before getting in line, walk to a first booth inside the building to the left to get your immigration card for Bolivia to fill in. You don’t need to queue to get this part and will just waste time.

With the card join the back of the queue, and fill it in as you’re snailing along. For Brits (I’m a brit) and most nationalities it’s free and you get 3 months max on a tourist visa. Americans will have to pay and Israelis now need a visa, as of July 2014.

After that you’re done.


On to La Paz

Walk 50 yards to where you’ll have the same choice – taxi vs. minibus. Take the taxi – it’ll be even cheaper – 30 bolivianos versus about 8-15 on the minibus.

Again taxers are faster, safer and more nimble if you hit frequent, crippling traffic jams. You’ll know because your driver will curse and mumble about ‘atrancado’ (being stuck).

From Desaguadero the taxi takes less time than the one to Puno. As little as an hour and ten if you’re lucky, up to 2 and a half if you’re not.

Delays will occur once you hit El Alto, the world’s highest city (containing more than people 100,000) at 4,050 metres above sea level.

You’ll realise that’s a good pub quiz fact.

Snow-capped mountains on horizon

Day considerations

If you arrive on Thursday and Sunday it will take longer as these are market days. There are loads of vehicles and blocked of streets and diversions.

It’s not the end of the world, it will just take longer.

In my case, despite promises to be taken to La Paz’s general cementery (cementerio general) my taxi driver gave up and I had to walk away from the jam to take a taxi to downtown La Paz.

In that case walk away from the blockage and ask for the Plaza San Francisco, La Paz’s centre. Many backpackers hostels are 5-10 mins walk away.

la paz
View over La Paz

Reverse trip: La Paz to Puno

Take a taxi to the ‘cementerio general’ and ask for the ‘paradero Desaguadero”. Practically all taxi drivers should know where this is. From the Plaza San Francisco, don’t pay more than 15 bolivianos.

In my case when I arrived there were only the white 15-person minibuses, so I told my driver to take me to the taxis. He wasn’t sure but knew where to go in El Alto.

We climbed up from La Paz, which sits in a bit of an egg cup at 3,600 metres to El Alto at about 4,050 metres. Taxi drivers are master improvisers, knowing a diversion if you hit more inexplicable traffic.

After arriving in the ‘desaguadero paradero’ in El Alto, I don’t know the address, but confide in your driver, he or she [almost never] I had to pay 70 bolivianos, so I got a bit stung. My driver wasn’t out to con me, I just hadn’t realized the trip would rise to 70 bolivianos.

From there I found the taxi cabs, agreed 30 bolivianos, and took a seat waiting for the cab to fill. They will never go until full, and some drivers insist someone sit in the boot (trunk), facing the rear. These cars are station wagons. Don’t sit in the boot.

el alto

Then there’s another 90 minute drive. You may get stopped close to the border. Showing your passport should be enough and registering your name. They rarely search you.

I can’t see how Bolivians officials could find a pretext so that you have to pay a commission (bribe). Obviously judge it as it is, but I’d vehemently refuse unless it was clear for the sake of a few dollars, you don’t want the hassle. I don’t know anyone this happened too.

Go straight to Bolivian immigration with the immigration slip of paper you had stamped and filled out on the way in.

There is no exit tax (at least not for Brits), cross the bridge, and go to Peru’s immigration hall. Get a card, fill it out, and put yourself in line. Wind your clock an hour back. The whole process took 5 mins at 10am on a Tuesday morning.

Peruvian side in background on Desaguadero border bridge.

Desaguadero to Puno

Bear right and you should encounter varuous taxi drivers chatting. If you’re gringo they’ll seek you out and be shouting Puno. You won’t have to look far. It costs 20 soles again and you have to wait until full. I had a great ceviche from one of the stalls by the way for 6 soles.

Then it’s about two-and-a-half hours to Puno.


Finally to Juliaca

To get to the airport in Juliaca, I organized a minibus through the same Rossy tour company for 15 soles. That’s not a direct endorsement. They were just a number I was given. That journey takes 45 mins to an hour.

Don’t fret if you arrive even an hour before schedule take-off. It’s a domestic airport, and it took me all of 10 mins to get through.

And there you have. Relatively stress free and having made some big savings.



Morales Proclaims Victory In Bolivia Elections

Official results not yet released but exit polls in Bolivia’s elections show a third consecutive term for incumbent Evo Morales

LA PAZ, Bolivia — Evo Morales declared victory in Sunday’s Bolivian presidential vote, after exit polls indicated a huge victory for the incumbent.

Official results have yet to be released but a national exit poll awarded Morales 60 percent of the vote, paving the way for him to become the country’s longest-serving president.

“We thank the Bolivian people for this triumph,” Morales said from the balcony of the presidential palace to ecstatic followers thronging the capital of La Paz’s main square.

Bolivia’s first indigenous leader dedicated his victory to “all the people of Latin America and the world who fight against capitalism and against imperialism,” and paid tribute to Fidel Castro and the late Hugo Chavez.

Morales, 54, a former coca-leaf grower turned populist politician, has expanded social programs and presided over a commodities boom that has seen Bolivia’s economy triple.

Victory seemed inevitable after polls consistently placed the incumbent and his Movement for Socialism (MAS) party at more than 50 percent of the vote, securing an outright majority.

Polls on the eve of the election predicted a Morales victory with 59 percent of the vote. According to the Ipsos figures, nearest challenger Samuel Doria rose six points in the election, finishing at 25 percent.

Morales said his party made gains in all of Bolivia’s nine regions, and declared the country was no longer a “half moon” but a “full one,” making reference to political divisions which split the country’s middle.

If he governs until the end of his term in 2020, Evo, as he is known, would have ruled for the longest since independence in 1815. But he is accused by critics of consolidating power and smothering the opposition. His candidacy was controversial after the country’s highest court allowed him to run for a third term – barred by the constitution.

MAS’ projected share of the vote put the Socialist party within distance of the two-thirds majority needed in the legislature to alter the constitution.

Analysts say Morales may seek to abolish term limits, paving the way for indefinite election. He is considered to have a strong grip over party members while no clear successor exists.

“Will Evo try to engineer so that he can run for a subsequent term? Everything (for MAS) relies on that, so my guess is he will,” Jim Shultz, executive director of the Democracy Center in Cochabamba, told The Anadolu Agency (AA).

“What holds MAS together is Morales. Without him they’d have a harder time,” said Raul Madrid, a professor of government at the University of Texas.

For supporters who donned the party colors of royal blue and white, and waved flags, Morales was the only choice for Bolivia.

“The whole Bolivian people know that brother Evo has done great work,” Eduardo Sinani told the AA.

“He’s the only president, the best president who’s ever lived. We’re in a process of change, and this process needs not just five years to develop, but until 2025,” he said.

Voting went smoothly Sunday, with electoral observers from the Organization of American States not declaring any major irregularities.

The country’s election authority said it would announce 70 percent of the results Monday after being postponed on Election Day.


Bolivia’s Morales on Verge of Third Election Victory

Populist indigenous leader set for resounding outright majority in first round, extending rule to 2019

LA PAZ, Bolivia (AA) – Bolivia incumbent Evo Morales is set to cruise to a third consecutive victory in Sunday’s presidential election, securing five more years to expand popular social programs.

A rash of closing polls put the leftist leader of the Movement for Socialism (MAS) party on 59 percent – a 40-point advantage over nearest contender, Samuel Doria.

Outright victory will extend Morales’ rule to 2019, contentiously making him Bolivia’s longest-serving president in history.

Opponents accuse Morales of defying the constitution, which bans anyone running for a third term, after a constitutional court ruled in his favor last year.

“There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind who’s going to win,” Miguel Centellas, a professor in political science in Jackson State University in Mississippi, who focuses on Bolivia told The Anadolu Agency (AA). “The real question is can he get a two-thirds supra-majority in the legislature.”

87 of Bolivia’s 130 lower house seats could allow Morales to do away with term limits, giving way to indefinite election.

The fragmented four-party opposition has struggled to make inroads with the electorate, splitting the vote to Morales’ advantage.

Nearest rival Doria, a centre-right businessman who brought Burger King to Bolivia, or trailing former president (2001-02), Jorge “Tuto” Quiroga, are considered to not offer clear alternatives.

“The opposition on the right of Morales is so weak, and it’s not that anybody is doing it to them,” said Kathryn Ledebur, of the Cochabamba-based Andean Information Network.

“They haven’t developed the skills, diplomacy or policy generation to convince anyone in the voting public. They are regurgitated, remodelled politicians.”

Morales, 54, a former coca-leaf grower turned country’s first indigenous leader, has presided over a natural gas boom which tripled the economy and slashed poverty by 25 percent.

Known popularly as “Evo”, the Aymara indian has allied himself with other leftists leaders such as Venezuela’s Chavez and Ecuador’s Correa, united in their contempt for the United States and the neoliberal ‘Washington consensus’.

Morales has come under fire for hostility to the opposition and smothering of the press. His party boycotted a presidential debate last month, saying it refused to debate with ‘neoliberals’ opponents.

Today Bolivia’s 6-million electorate will elect 130 deputies and 36 senators by a mixture of first-past-the-post and proportional representation.

Voting is obligatory for those between 18 and 70.

To ensure high turnout, Bolivian electoral law bans alcohol 72 hours before polling, and all transport on election day. On Thursday an act of “electoral silence” began, where further campaigning by candidates is illegal.

To win an election, a candidate must either win an absolute majority of the vote or at least 40 percent with a 10 percent lead over the second candidate.

Election observers from the Organization of American States (OAS) have dismissed accusations of voter fraud after 20,000 deceased persons remained on the electoral register.

OAS president Alvaro Colom said it was “normal” for an election, pointing out Bolivia’s biometric registry used to prevent double-voting.

Morales won 54 percent of the vote in 2005, and increased his share of the polling to 64 percent in 2009.



Bolivia’s Pacific Quarrel Rumbles on as Election Nears

The longstanding dispute with Chile looms large as analysts see Morales flaring tensions for electoral gain

LA PAZ, Bolivia (AA) – Nothing unites Bolivians more than their claim to the sea.

The landlocked country’s loss of territory in a 19th century war against Chile is an open wound that seeps resentment, still.

President Evo Morales (pictured right) has made Bolivia’s so-called “sovereign access to the sea” a central plank of his second government, bringing a claim before the International Court of Justice last April.

And in bidding for a third term, the maritime cause, as it’s locally known, has heavily figured in his Movement for Socialism (MAS) party’s campaign.

“It’s something that has been decisive in the Bolivian identity,” Kathryn Ledebur, director of the Andean Information Network in Cochabamba, told The Anadolu Agency (AA).

“It’s political jockeying by MAS to show it’s behind the cause, though this is a genuine national issue where consensus exists.”

-War of the Pacific

Bolivia lost 250 miles (400 km) of coastline and 46,000 sq. miles (120,000 square km) of territory in the 1879-84 War of the Pacific. That deprived it of key ports – choking off international trade and its development.

While its coastal sovereignty was formally relinquished in a 1904 treaty, a series of Chilean presidents have promised its return.

This is the crux of Bolivia’s demand put before the International Court of Justice at The Hague last April – that Chile negotiate in “good faith” and work toward a diplomatic resolution.

But Chile says it isn’t obliged to do so. Bolivia “intends to re-write history” and has mounted false arguments to distort the process, according to foreign minister Heraldo Muñoz. This year Chile challenged the court’s jurisdiction to decide the matter, suspending Bolivia’s claim until all arguments are heard.

“How can a country that’s so efficient and respectful in other disputes maintain this lie?” Gustavo Aliaga, an international analyst with 25 years’ experience in Bolivia’s foreign ministry told the AA, with a weighty blue document, “The Book of the Sea,” which outlines Bolivias position on the issue, before him.

“They say Morales is like the Gaddafi of Bolivia, putting at risk the peace and stability of the continent. When he just wants to see Chile respect its promise.”

-Diplomatic blows

Ahead of Bolivia’s election, both sides have traded diplomatic blows. Last week Chile published a six-minute video seeking to debunk its neighbor’s claims.

The video, which features President Michelle Bachelet along with former presidents, emphasized how Bolivia enjoys preferential customs agreements, use of roads and access to ports.

“An access that is undeniably better than the majority of countries without coastline,” according to the foreign minister.

Aliaga refutes this assertion, arguing Bolivia hasn’t the free movement Chile attests and is hobbled as a landlocked country.

Although Bolivia’s economy has tripled since Morales came to power, buoyed by sky-rocketing natural gas sales and the country will be Latin America’s best economic performer this year, Bolivians should not be distracted that “for the moment (theyre) rich on two hours of a commodity boom”, Aliaga says.

“Every state has the right to make the world aware of its arguments, but it can’t do it lacking the truth,” President Morales said in response to the video.

-Case outlook

The chances, however, for a decision in Bolivia’s favor look faint, with the ICJ ruling unequivocally for one side on rare occasions.

“The obligation to negotiate is simply an obligation to negotiate, not to agree to grant sovereign access,” Julian Ku, a professor of constitutional law at Hofstra University in New York told the AA.

“Moreover, Chile has arguably fulfilled the obligation to negotiate repeatedly over the years. I just find this case pretty implausible from a legal point of view.”

Some analysts say Morales is using the cause for political gain, rousing nationalist spirits – following previous presidents who have tapped into ingrained anti-Chilean sentiment.

Bolivia retains a navy, primarily in Lake Titicaca, high in the Andes and every March celebrates the day of the sea.

“It allows the government to sell to the people that it is pursuing a national cause,” said Mariano de Alba Uribe, professor in international law at Universidad Catolica Andres Bello in Caracas. “It’s able to focus the attention on an external “enemy.”

“There is little ground for opposition to the idea in the internal political spectrum of Bolivia.”

That’s correct, however the issue has bridged those on either side of the ideological divide — with former opponents, presidents Carlos Mesa and Eduardo Rodriguez leading the demand – lending it bipartisan credibility.

But as Morales has rallied support, dissenting opinions have prompted backlash, with critical journalists discredited as pro-Chilean.

“The issue can be delicate in terms of freedom of expression in a country with a jingoistic culture,” Ricardo Aguilar, a journalist at La Paz-based La Razon daily told the AA.

Aguilar is among several journalists pursued by the state for criticizing Morales’ handling of the cause. He was threatened with espionage charges in May after writing a column in the daily La Razon perceived to be critical of the government.

-Terrible cost

If the court rules in the favor of Bolivia it could be at a “terrible cost” for Chile, after its effort to improve its image internationally after years of dictatorship, he added.

Chile may deny to comply with the ruling, similar to a ruling given against Colombia with a case with Nicaragua in 2007.

But Morales has support from Venezuela and Ecuador in the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) political bloc, which could see the issue move past legal arguments. Bolivia must present its response to the ICJ by November and the verdict on Chile’s objection should be known by next June.

While progress in the international court is typically glacial however, time doesn’t faze Aliaga.

“Us Bolivians have waited over 130 years, we can wait 20 more.”

(An early version of this story stated Ricardo Aguilar gave up a source under duress from the Bolivian government. This article has been amended to show Aguilar did not do this.)



IMF: Latin American Growth to Hit 5-year Low in 2014

Globlal lender says region “still losing speed” after lowering growth forecasts for the second time in six months

Published by Anadolu Agency Oct 7.

Latin America’s growth in 2014 will be it’s slowest in five years, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said Tuesday, after lowering growth forecasts for the second time in six months.

The region will expand 1.3 percent this year, rising to 2.2 percent in 2015, the Washington-based global lender said in its quarterly report.

That’s just about half of the 2.5 percent the IMF predicted in April, and 0.7 percentage points lower than July’s forecast, as a languid Brazil and sluggish commodity exporters Peru and Chile, drag the region further away from rates of near 3 percent achieved in 2012 and 2013.

South America fared even worse, projected to grow just 0.7 percent in 2014, as recessions in Argentina and Venezuela took hold.

Downside risks

The fund predicted a “modest recovery” for 2015, but “risks remain tilted to the downside” as many economies lacked growth alternatives facing slumped raw material prices and supply bottlenecks.

Bolivia will be the region’s top performer, expanding 5.2 percent if estimates match expectations, closely followed by Colombia and Ecuador.

The region’s largest economy, Brazil, will expand just 0.3 percent, however, as weak competition and rising interest rates hit private investment. In 2015, it will see growth rise to 1.4 percent as political uncertainty surrounding this year’s elections subsides and activity regains momentum, the IMF expects.

Mexico was seen gathering momentum, set to hit 2.4 and 3.5 percent this year and next, after a slight expansion in 2013. A firmer U.S. recovery and an uptick in construction will complement “gradual dividends from the ongoing reform of the energy and telecommunication sectors.”

Growth in Chile and Peru in 2014 is expected to slow on reduced private investment, as softer Asia demand for raw materials lowered exports.

Eased monetary and fiscal measures, helped by a weaker peso, would see Chile’s economy advance from 2 percent this year to 3.3 percent in 2015. Rising metal production in Peru would see growth expand 5.1 percent in 2015 on 3.6 percent this year.

Argentina and Venezuela will spend 2014 and 2015 trying to leave recession. A widening trade gap and instability over payments to debt holders forecast contractions of 1.7 percent in 2014 and 1.5 percent in 2015.

Venezuela was the region’s worst performer, decreasing 3 percent this year and 1 percent in 2015, as 60 percent inflation and a dysfunctional policy mix in the Nicolas Maduro administration took hold.

Central America and the Caribbean will each average about 3.9 percent this year, helped by a firmer U.S. recovery.

Consecutive revisions

FocusEconomics, a Barcelona-based economic forecaster, last month mirrored the IMF’s lowered predictions.

“September’s result represents a notable downward revision to the region’s economic outlook,” adding it was the 17th consecutive lowering of forecasts, in a report published Sept 16.

“The deterioration in Latin America’s economic outlook came within the context of rising uncertainty about the global economic recovery. After three consecutive months of downward revisions, the outlook for the global economy stabilized in September,” it added.

The global economy is expected to grow 3.8 percent in 2015, after a slowdown in the first half of this year, the IMF added.


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