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September 30 2011

Laos According to Wikileaks

Wikileaks has released a set of Laos files that confirmed the country’s underdevelopment, endemic corruption in the bureaucracy, and the fragile state of its environment.

Andrew Walker thinks the cables “offer little insight into the upper-level workings of the Lao party-state” but there are other interesting revelations

In recent months several cables have appeared in the Wikileaks files from the US Embassy in Vientiane. They offer little insight into the upper-level workings of the Lao party-state, as one might hope (but hardly expect). But there are other points of interest.

One cable, an assessment of Asian Development Bank’s Country Strategy and Program (2006), offers a stinging rebuke of bilateral and multilateral donors in Laos, particularly their failure to leverage reform in areas of governance. The criticisms (both of Lao governance and foreign aid) are familiar but the frankness is unusual

The frankness of the views expressed in the cables surprised Eisel Mazard

You’ve got to hand it to the diplomatic corps for taking the rhetoric up a notch from the usual feature section of The Economist; I can’t shake the sense that these guys are frustrated authors, yearning for an audience that could appreciate this kind of vitriol.

I really wasn’t expecting the cables to be this catty; it’s almost as if the bureaucratic context encourages them to step it up, in order not to be ignored amidst the pile of such reports that comes and goes with each season.

Here is an excerpt of a cable discussing the unequal economic conditions in the country

Although GoL(GOvernment of Laos) ministers and officials with salaries of less that 75 dollars per month sport villas and cars worthy of Monte Carlo, GDP per capita is still officially less than $400…Unemployment is epidemic, underemployment is endemic, crime is rising, and the investment climate is among the least hospitable in the world.

It's no accident that these economic ills are not addressed. There is almost no rule of law or basic human freedom in Laos, and education is in the hands of a corrupt and ideologically hidebound ministry that uses ADB money to build a grandiose but unnecessary new ministry building while rural children sit on logs and try to remember what a teacher looked like.

But Bill, a resident of Vientiane, criticizes the “relative myopia of the cables”

As a longtime Vientiane resident, I’m mostly struck by the relative myopia of the cables. They cover a period of intense change in the country, and they are mostly saying nothing is changing, besides some material about their own relationships with the Lao government improving. Broadly they are far more about what Washington cares about (Hmong; money laundering; who the Lao government votes for at various UN meetings; limited progress on western style democratization) than what people in this country care about.

Journalist Lao Bumpkin identifies the relevant Laos-related topics in the Wikileaks website

Wikileaks has released it's cache of Laos files. I haven't read any of it yet, when I do I'll add to the end of the post. So far no news of cabinet ministers having falang mia nois or other important happenings.

Luang Prabang, Laos. Photo by jmhullot used under CC License Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Let’s sample some interesting opinions and observations about Laos. This is how elections are conducted in Laos

By-and-large, Lao citizens took the election seriously, as a matter of national pride. The public announcements broadcast from polling stations played on the patriotism theme; we overheard one announcement telling voters they were demonstrating to a skeptical world that the Lao people cherished their voting rights and were faithful to their government and the Party. Voters were expected to show their regard for the electoral process. Women who showed up to polling stations wearing slacks or “improper” dress were sent home. In spite of the guarantee of a “secret” ballot, election officials were on hand to inspect each ballot to make sure the voters took their responsibility seriously and voted correctly.

Development projects are hurting the poor

Intent on giving an open door to some foreign investors, the government has few compunctions about trampling on its own citizens, ignoring their traditional lands and livelihoods and utter dependence on their environment for their survival. In the near-absence of meaningful rule of law, those affected are at the mercy of sometimes venal, usually uncaring, bureaucrats administering the land use system. As Laos' reputation grows as an “easy” place for investors in sectors like hydropower, plantation forests and mining, more and more of Laos' poorest citizens are likely to find themselves dispossessed of their traditional lands.

In Laos, “government officials are presumed to be corrupt unless proven otherwise.”

In general, there is no sense among Party officials that there is anything significantly wrong with corruption, though a few stalwarts still hold to the socialist ideals of their youth.

A direct consequence of decades of abuse of power is that there is no public trust; government officials are presumed to be corrupt unless proven otherwise.

Opium cultivation is on the decline but communities which once depended on poppy cultivations are starving

From the late 1980's until 2005, Laos was the third largest producer of opium poppy in the world. Significant poppy cultivation took place in about ten of 17 provinces, and authorities took no significant action against it, though they did tax opium until the mid 1990's.

The GOL estimates that half or more of all former poppy growers have yet to receive any significant assistance from any source to establish alternative livelihoods. The World Food Program reports that, in a number of communities formerly dependent on poppy, serious and widespread food security issues have emerged this year…There are grounds for serious concern that farmers might be compelled to revert to poppy cultivation or starve.

Reposted bySigalonscoopit Sigalonscoopit

Afghanistan: Donor dependence

Nick Fielding writes that the US and other donors have provided 90 per cent of Afghanistan's public expenditures in 2006-2010. With the 2014 target date for the withdrawal of US troops, the question is how the government in Kabul would fund its security forces, who use up the lion's share of this donor income.

September 29 2011

Greece: “Europe, come be in my shoes, before judging me”

Global Voices in Greek translator Margie Lazou posts an open and unvarnished account of her daily struggles as a single mother in crisis-ridden Greece on her personal blog: “All those people out there in Europe, please, come live here, be in my shoes for some time before judging me.”

Vietnam: Cash Transfer Programs

Stoney Chenal reviews the experience of Vietnam in implementing Cash Transfer programs.

September 28 2011

East Timor: Tasi Mane Petroleum Infrastructure Project

A local Non-Government Organization, La'o Hamutuk, has set-up a special website page to gather information, monitor project updates, and document the resistance of a community to East Timor’s Tasi Mane Petroleum Infrastructure Project.

Tasi Mane (Male Sea) Project is among East Timor’s flagship strategic development programs

To bring petroleum development to our shores and provide a direct economic dividend from petroleum industry activities, supporting infrastructure will be developed on the south coast of Timor-Leste. This will be led by the Tasi Mane Project, a multi-year development of three industrial clusters on the south coast which will form the backbone of the Timor-Leste petroleum industry. The project will involve development of a coastal zone from Suai to Beaço and will ensure that required infrastructure is in place to support a growing domestic petroleum industry. Tasi Mane will include the Suai Supply Base cluster, the Betano Refinery and Petrochemical Industry cluster, and the Beaço LNG-Plant cluster.

Overview of Tasi Mane Project

East Timor is dependent on its oil revenues but economists have already advised it to diversify its economy. La'o Hamutuk thinks that Tasi Mane reflects the continuing dependence of the country on the petroleum industry

…the 2011 state budget allocates over $30 million for the Tasi Mane project, more than twice as much as the Ministry of Agriculture. We lamented the nearly exclusive focus on the petroleum industry (and resulting lost opportunities to explore other possibilities for economic development).

Since there is consensus that Timor-Leste needs to move away from oil-dependency in the long-term, we are disappointed that petroleum processing is the only industrial development discussed. What about agricultural processing, or light industry to replace imported products? The capital-intensive oil industry will provide few jobs for anyone, including Timorese. Allocating most of our intellectual and financial resources to the petroleum sector obstructs moving to a non-oil economy after oil and gas reserves are used up in 13 years.

The group is concerned that a large amount of public money has been allotted to a single project

We also wonder about the economic viability of the Tasi Mane project, given that no private sector investors have shown interest. From an investment perspective, the returns may not justify the amount of public money being expended

It also doubts if the project will generate enough number of jobs for the local population

…nothing is said about how many jobs these projects will provide for Timorese workers, how much land they will take from uses such as agriculture and fishing, how many people will have to be displaced, or how much revenue they will generate for the state.

If Parliament does not receive such information in a credible and accessible form, we urge you not to give the Government a “blank check” for a project which may turn out to be useless or have negligible benefits

Based on the government’s Procurement Portal, most of the companies which signified intention to participate in the program are foreign companies. One of the qualified firms, TOKE OIL & GAS SA, received a contract worth $6,639,517.00

Community assembly about the project

The Tasi Mane became controversial because many communities will be affected and displaced by the project. One community member, Manuel da Costa, clarifies that the people are not against development

…the south coast land will be a Promised Land for Timor-Leste's development, but we children of Betano will become victims of development. We from Betano support development, but our needs must be considered.

The Betano community has already agreed to give up four hectares of their land to the government but it protested the occupation of their other lands.

The People of Betano, Aldeia Bemeta months ago offered four hectares of their land to the Government in order to construct a heavy oil power station. Recently the Government contracted Tinolina Construction Ltd, to prepare the site. During this process they occupied more land.

Because this occupation of land was more than the original agreement between the Government and the Community, the community began to organize themselves as is their right, consecrated in the Constitution as People of an “independent nation”.

The Government and the Company showed a lack of transparency and much manipulation of facts throughout the entire process, and there are many inconsistencies in their story.

When they protested, the action was violently dispersed by the police

Because of this the community carried out a peaceful action in the field. However the community suffered violent actions from the Police who went to intervene and prevent this peaceful demonstration

September 26 2011

India: To Be Poor In India

Project Why exposes that there is a serious flaw in determining who is poor in India and who will get social welfare benefit from the government. The blogger asks: “what are we trying to do: show the world that we are not poor?”

Albania: One in three pays bribes

Home of the Albanian Blogger reports that one out of three Albanians pays bribes, making the country the most corrupt in Europe.

September 25 2011

United States: “Occupy Wall Street” Takes the Heart of New York's Financial District

In New York City's Financial District, a peaceful protest has been organized by the group  Occupy Wall Street (#occupywallstreet on Twitter), and supported by the Canadian organization AdBusters and the hacker group Anonymous. Inspired by the demonstrations in cities throughout Arab and European countries, these youth are showing their dissatisfaction with the way in which Wall Street has, according to them, controlled the policies of the United States economy, making it into a “corporatocracy” and leaving millions unemployed.  This group has occupied Zuccotti Park since September 17, and they expect that more people will join in the upcoming months.

Poster from the movement.

Musicians, medical staff, an improvised library and a technology team armed with computers and other devices can all be found in the park.  The demonstrators also have created banners with pieces of cardboard in which they express their feelings against capitalism, as well as their opposition to the Troy Davis execution.  The demonstrators have joined under the motto: “We are the 99% who will not tolerate the greed and corruption of the remaining 1%.”

Sofía Gallisá photo. Published with permission.

A poster showing the online media resources for finding information. Sofía Gallisá photo. Published with permission.

Sofía Gallisá photo. Published with permission.

Sofía Gallisá photo. Published with permission.

Although the protests have been carrying on without much disturbances, there have been arrests: according to recent reports, close to 80 arrests took place on Saturday, September 24, mainly for disorderly conduct on behalf of “individuals who blocked pedestrian and vehicular traffic,” in addition to resisting arrest and obstructing governmental administration.  Nonetheless, this did not thwart the demonstrators' march from continuing to other parts of the city such as Union Square in the center of Manhattan.  While traditional media has not provided much coverage of the protest, information has exploded all over digital social networks (Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Vimeo, Flickr).

National figures like professor and philosopher Cornel West (@CornelWest) demonstrated his support via Twitter:

Courageous folk. Civil disobedience is part and parcel of the American democratic process. #OccupyWallStreet

Van Jones (@VanJones68), a prominent U.S. activist, also expressed his solidarity with the demonstrators while simultaneously speaking out against police misconduct:

Those Occupy Wall Street folks deserve some serious love. But NYPD? WTF? Check out video! Watching via @livestream

Other Twitter users like Michele Catalano (@inthefade) believe that the protest is a dichotomy in itself:

It's so cute how the kids at Occupy Wall Street are tweeting their fight against capitalism from their iPhones and Droids. FIGHT THE POWER.

Amidst this, Ricardo (@jrickymayo) finds another contradiction to the events on the night of September 24 [es]:

y esto pasa en el pais mas [sic] libre Al menos 80 detenidos en Nueva York durante las protestas para ‘ocupar' Wall Street

and this happens in the most free country.  At least 80 detained in New York during the protests to “occupy” Wall Street

Below we present a video of “Occupy Wall Street,” in which one can clearly see how the demonstrators are blocked off by a strong security force:




this entry is part of the OccupyWallStreet compilation 2011-09, here.

September 23 2011

Cuba: “Capitalism of the Castros”

Iván García explains that “the Cuba of the 21st century is split in two. The islet of the gentleman and the atoll of the comrade.”

Colombia: President Santos' Tour of Asia

Last week, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos toured Japan and South Korean for seven days with the goal of strengthening commercial ties.  In Japan, he signed an agreement to protect reciprocal investments, while the Koreans promised to accelerate the process for a free trade treaty.  According to Santos himself, this trip was a dream come true, after previously visiting this region when acting as Minister of Exterior Commerce during the Cesar Gaviria administration 18 years ago.

And it was not for nothing.  President Santos consolidated an alliance with Korean corporate leaders that assured him a superior investment of $220 million and the government of this country indicated Colombia as a “member” along with other economies of great importance such as Japan and the United States, according to the daily El Tiempo [es].  President Santos' interest in this trip was such that the logistical display was massive, according to Revista Semana magazine [es]: everything from the fact that officials and members of the armed forces had to attend to the pens they had to use at the signings.

President Juan Manuel Santos, image from Globovisión on Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

For some bloggers, this trip represented the opportunity for Colombia to open new markets and introduce its products, as Jhodainternacional describes it [es]:

Es real que la internacionalizacion [sic] de los productos de colombia [sic] son el primer paso para alcanzar un desarrollo sostenible y que el horizonte que ofrece Asia es el mejor, por factores como su población [sic], sus ingresos percapita y los beneficios que se pueden recibir, como el desarrollo tecnologico, [sic] la formacion [sic] de capital humano y el efecto locomotor que se desprende de este.

It's true that the internationalization of Colombian products is the first step to attaining sustainable development and the horizon that Asia offers is the best, for factors like its population, its per capita income and the benefits that we can receive, such as technological development, building human capital and the locomotive effect that comes off of it.

This same blog also adds that it is convenient for Colombia to open other markets as a result of the current poor economic time in the United States [es]:

Tal y como se siente el presente, la posición de Colombia como país de economía dependiente no es la mejor postura que pudiera tener la nación para afrontar el futuro teniendo en cuenta que USA está pasando por una recesión y que los pronósticos no son alentadores.

Considering the present, Colombia's position as a dependent economy is not the best position that the nation could have to confront the future, taking into account that the USA is going through a recession and the prognosis is not particularly encouraging.

On its part, the Iberian-American Observatory of Asia-Pacific [es] highlighted the agreement that President Santos signed with South Korea with respect to topics on energy, miners and infrastructure [es]:

Asimismo, ambos mandatarios cerraron otro memorando para la protección ambiental y para proyectos en el desarrollo de viviendas, urbano y de infraestructuras. Santos dijo que espera que “los memorandos se traduzcan en acuerdos formales e inversiones concretas”, después de asistir a la firma de convenios entre la siderúrgica surcoreana Posco y las colombianas Fanalca y Blue Pacific. Asimismo, Myung-bak informó que en adelante Corea del Sur dará a las relaciones con Colombia el nivel cooperación estratégica, uno de los más altos que otorga esta nación.

Likewise, both heads of state closed another memorandum for environmental protection and projects for housing, urban, and infrastructure development.  Santos said that he hopes “the memorandums are translated into formal agreements and concrete investments,” after attending the signing of agreements between the South Korean iron and steel sector Pasco and Colombian Fanalca and Blue Pacific. [es] As such, Myung-bak informed him that moving forward, South Korea will grant Colombian relations strategic cooperation, one of the highest that this nation awards.

Two months ago, Diego Sánchez de la Cruz wrote for International Relations Blog about President Santos' strategy in increasing Colombia's presence in international markets and improving its relationship with its neighbors:

Since Juan Manuel Santos took office, Colombia’s foreign policy strategy has experienced significant changes. For instance, the new Cabinet restored diplomatic ties with both Venezuela and Ecuador, ending years of political stress and closing a period of security dilemmas that created uncertainty and instability. The Economist has explained that “Santos has shown a desire to broaden his country’s friendships in the region”, and it looks like his effort has been successful so far

And they add that Santos does not only look to strengthen commercial tied with the Pacific basin, to which Japan and South Korea belong to as well:

However, President Santos is not only looking to expand Colombia’s ties with the Pacific economy. The European Union has just passed a Free Trade Agreement with Colombia, and this partnership is likely to become broader. President Santos himself has recently visited Spain and Germany, heading a diplomatic mission that devoted most of its efforts to highlight business opportunities in Colombia to European investors.

Twitter users did not hesitate to respond, beginning with President Santos himself, (@JuanManSantos) [es]:

Hemos salido muy complacidos con la visita al Japón, ha sido muy fructífera para el país. Agradezco toda la hospitalidad del pueblo japonés.

We have been quite pleased with the visit to Japan, it has been very fruitful for the country.  I thank the Japanese population for all of its hospitality.

Followed also by another Twitter user from the State Department of Colombian Foreign Relations (@CancilleriaCol) [es]:

#CancillerHolguín calificó como exitosa en materia comercial la gira del presidente Santos por Asia (Vía @noticierodel

#CancillerHolguín labeled President Santos' tour of Asia successful in commercial material (Vía @noticierodel

Mylianita (@Mylianita) responded to Santos' message with the following [es]:

@JuanManSantos Bien por usted, hay que abrir puertas no esperar solo el tlc con USA, bien bien lo felicito

@JuanManSantos Good for you, we need to open doors and not just wait for the FTA with the USA, good good I congratulate you

Of course, the Colombians' cunning comments did not go unnoticed.  For example, Felipe Acevedo (@FelipeAcevedoM) put forward that traveling the world is a pleasure, as President Santos does it [es]:

“Gira del presidente Santos por Asia, ‘un sueño cumplido'”// Que rico viajar por todo el mundo…

“President Santos' tour of Asia, ‘a dream come true'” // How nice it is to travel the world…

Ernesto Macías Tovar (@emaciastovar ) indicated that there were more reporters than government personnel during the trip [es]:

En Comitiva del presidente #Santos en viaje por Asia hay más periodistas que empresarios y funcionarios. Muy bueno por los primeros.

In the #Santos presidential delegation on the trip throughout Asia, there are more journalists that corporate leaders and officials.  Very nice for the first group.

Jorge Figueroa Clausen (@figuerjoda) asks the following question [es]:

A ustedes les ha hecho falta el Presidente SANTOS que esta viajando por ASIA? [sic]

Do you miss President SANTOS who is traveling throughout ASIA?

Finally, Lucho Martínez (@martinezlucho) asks why President Santos did not visit Asia's primary economy:

Why is Colombian President Santos in Asia, but not visiting China?

Mali : ATT Tending to his Legacy

Diawara at Sur les traces de l'empire du Mali [fr] describes the upcoming tight schedule of Malian president  Ahmadou Toumani Touré (aka A.T.T) : “A.T.T is seemingly keen on leaving a good lasting impression as he prepares to depart his (presidential) office. Indeed, his upcoming agenda is heavy on inauguration ceremonies of newly built infrastructures.”


September 22 2011

Poland: “Hot Autumn in Politics”

Politics, Economy, Society writes about the upcoming Oct. 9 parliamentary elections in Poland.

Uruguay: Economic Growth and Happiness

According to a forecast by the Intentional Monetary Fund, Uruguay's economy will expand 6% in 2011. Rosario Queirolo in Razones y personas: repensando Uruguay (”Reasons and people: rethinking Uruguay”) comments on the relationship between economic growth and general satisfaction in Uruguay.

Cuba: Image of a Free Woman

Rebeca Monzo examines the new image of the Cuban woman, saying: “In official spheres they speak of the revolutionary woman, mother, comrade, worker, housewife. But what’s certain is that, more and more, our women suffer transformations that are detrimental to their appearance and self-esteem.”

Peru: ‘Mistura 2011′ Ends Amid Praise and Criticism

Mistura, the already famous Peruvian festival of Gastronomy, has come to a close after ten days of its fourth edition with impressive figures: more than 400,000 visitors [es] (more than the year before) among which were 18,000 children and some 4,500 tourists who arrived in Lima to attend the event. Moreover, the organisers noted that a total of 233 journalists came from 19 countries [es] to report the development of the festival, besides 300 students of gastronomy from the region, and there are hopes that the 2012 Mistura festival will attract one million visitors [es]. It is important to note that Lima has 8 million inhabitants.

Outside the Mistura festival, Lima. Photo: Go!PymesFotos/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The local food blog Cucharas Bravas [es] details some of the numbers of total sales:

  • Más de medio millón de panes vendidos. (El 2010 se vendieron 250 mil panes)
  • El área de dulces y carretillas vendió más de 230 mil porciones.
  • Más de 40 mil porciones vendidas en la zona de cocinas regionales.
  • Más de 20 mil pociones vendidas en la zona de cocinas clásicas.
  • Al cilindro de Javi , Makatong y La cilindrada de Pedrito vendieron más de 4,000 porciones diarias.
  • La sección de cocinas rústicas vendió más de 95 mil porciones.
  • Más de 8 toneladas de frutas vendidas. Las más pedidas: Naranja, Chirimoya, Palta, Pitajaya y Poro Poro.
  • Los productores del Gran Mercado tuvieron ventas por más de 400 mil soles (US$ 142,857 aprox.).
  • More than half a million loaves of bread sold. (In 2010 250 thousand were sold)
  • The area of sweets and dessert carts sold more than 230 thousand portions.
  • More than 40 thousand portions sold in the area of regional  cuisine.
  • More than 20 thousand portions sold in the classic cuisine section.
  • In the booths of Javi , Makatong and La cilindada Pedrito more than 4,000 portions were sold daily.
  • The rustic kitchen section sold more than 95 thousand portions.
  • More than 8 tons of fruit sold. Most requested: Orange, Chirimoya, Avocados, Pitajaya and Poro Poro.
  • Producers in the Gran Mercado earned more than 400,000 soles (US$ 142,857 aprox.).
  • Apart form food, one of the most anticipated events of this edition of Mistura was the signing of the declaration of Lima, done by nine world renowned cooks. The blog Perú, Pasión por la Comida (Peru, Passion for Food) [es] reported:

    …si algo hemos aprendido los peruanos en los últimos años gracias al boom de la gastronomía nacional, es que la cocina puede convertirse en una auténtica herramienta de transformación social y de cohesión para la comunidad. Así lo han entendido también el brasileño Alex Atala, el italiano Massino Bottura, el estadounidense Dan Barber, el Japonés Yukio Hattori, el danés Rene Redzepi, el español Ferrán Adrià, el francés Michael Bras y nuestro reconocido Gastón Acurio.

    …if we've learned anything from the Peruvians in these last years of the gastronomic boom nationwide, it is that cooking can be converted into an authentic instrument of social transformation and social cohesion for the community. This was also said by Brazilian Alex Atala, Italian Massino Bottura, Dan Barber from the US, Japanese Yukio Hattori, Rene Redzepi from Denmark, Ferrán Adrià from Spain, French Michael Bras and our very own famous Gastón Acurio.

    The Declaration of Lima, or the ‘G-9′ (for the 9 chefs who signed it) as it is called, was recognised on an international scale, but not everyone celebrated it. There were critical commentaries by Jay Rayner, of the blog Word of Mouth from The Guardian newspaper:

    Let's be clear. There is nothing wrong with a bunch of very talented, very serious cooks having these thoughts. […] Yes, of course good chefs ought to be serious about their ingredients. Yes they have a responsibility to source stuff ethically. But they also need to remember that they aren't secular saints. They are chefs cooking dinner for very, very rich people.

    Ferrán Adriá, the famous chef from Catalonia and owner of El Bulli, walked through the festival, summarising his visible enthusiasm in one phrase: “The best recipe you have is passion” [es].

    President of Congress, accompanied by three MPs, at the inauguration of "Mistura". Photo: Congress of the Republic of Perú/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) .

    Despite the great opening and the massive attendance, not everyone was happy with the event: some criticised the disorganisation [es] as well as discrimination against the elderly. Some think that Misura is an elitist event that disguises itself as something average, as Johan Espinal posted on the blog Muladar News [es]:

    … Mis­tura es un ejem­plo de lo que la demo­cra­cia sig­ni­fica para los Gas­to­nes Acu­rios de nues­tros tiem­pos: Si quie­res comer tie­nes que pagar, si quie­res pagar tie­nes que hacer cola, si quie­res hacer cola pri­mero tie­nes que entrar, si quie­res entrar tie­nes que pagar y así se cie­rra ese círculo empa­la­goso del nego­cio redondo en clave gastronómica… Mis­tura tam­bién podría ser el Perú que algu­nos  desea­mos desterrar.

    … Mis­tura is an example of what democracy means to the Gas­to­n Acu­rios of our time: If you want to eat something, you have to pay for it, if you want to pay for it, you have to wait in line, if you want to form a line, you have to get in first, if you want to enter, you have to pay, and the circle of business surrounding the gastronomic closes… Mis­tura could also be that part of Peru that some of us want to eradicate.

    Along these same lines, there has been a Facebook page in existence since 2010 called “Misiura” [es] (in Peruvian slang “misio” means “broke”), that says:

    Misiura es la feria gastronómica del pueblo, aquí degustarás de los mas ricos y exquisitos platillos, comida tradicional, etc; sin necesidad de pagar 20 soles por persona en la entrada… Esta FERIA se hará realidad no precisamente para hacer RICO o llenar de DINERO a un grupo de COCINEROS que se hacen “AMIGOS” del gobierno de turno, es para promover la justicia alimentaria…

    Misiura is the gastronomy festival of the people, where you can taste the most delicious and exquisite dishes, traditional food, etc; without paying 20 soles to enter… This FESTIVAL wasn't realised for people to get RICH or fill the pockets of a bunch of CHEFS who make “FRIENDS” with the government of the time, it's to promote culinary justice…

    However, this “Misiura” page is small: it hardly surpassed 2000 followers, compared to the 319,000 followers of the Facebook page “Mistura”.

    Meanwhile, chef Gastón Acurio, creator of this festival, has been responding to criticism since 2009 about the price of tickets (which don't include what you consume inside), arguing that even with the price fixed at 20 soles (US $7.50) the festival managed to bring in multitudes, so that cheaper tickets [es] would have brought in a huge flood of people, meaning that it would have exceeded the safe number of attendees as authorised by the Civil Force for the Gran Parque de Lima (the chosen venue for the event).

    On social networks the development of this Festival was attentively monitored, with comments ranging from reactions to the food to details of organisation. María Mickle [es] commented on Facebook on the festive side of the event and the integral role of food in Peruvian society:



    Popular Peruvian singer song writer Gianmarco (@gianmarcomusica) notes on Twitter:

    Mistura, la feria gastronomica mas importante de latinoamerica! Orgullosamente Peruano!

    Mistura, the most important gastronomy festival in Latin America! Proud to be Peruvian!

    Víctor Henry Guerrero celebrates the food festival but complains about the crowds:

    Mistura …… que delicia, sabor y mas de 1000 platos peruanos…. pero… para conseguir una entrada mas de dos dias… y para comer lo bueno de lo bueno mas de 3 horas haciendo cola.. no pues !!!!!!

    Mistura …… how delightful, flavour and more than 1000 Peruvian dishes…but… getting a ticket took more than 2 days…to eat the best of the best, you have to stay in line for 3 hours… gosh no !!!!!!

    Jesús Verde (@Jeve30) comments on the necessity to get more space:

    ahora mistura es una feria interesante, pero necesita un recinto mas grande…

    now that Mistura is an interesting festival, it needs a bigger venue…

    Twitter user JuandDz (@juandedz) talks about the prices at Mistura and “Misiura”:

    como dijo el amigo , para los que no pueden entrar a “Mistura” afuera también pueden comer en “Misiura”

    as our friend says, for those who couldn't get into “Mistura” outside you can also eat “Misiura”

    Others lament not being able to attend [es], so much so that there were expressions of hope that the 2012 version come soon [es].

    Mistura, the festival organised by the Asociación Peruana de Gastronomía (Apega for its initials in Spanish, the Peruvian Gastronomy Association) has a good official website [es], and an active group on Facebook. The Mayor of Lima admonished that the festival couldn't continue in the same place [es], and the organisers are already looking for a new and more spacious venue [es] to be able to receive more people (and lower the ticket fee) in the 2012 edition.

    Slovenia: Government Loses Confidence Vote

    Sleeping With Pengovsky reports that the government of PM Borut Pahor has lost a confidence vote in parliament.

    Latvia: Parliamentary Elections Results

    Andrew Wilson of and Juris Kaža of Failed State Latvia? analyze the results of the Sep. 17 parliamentary elections in Latvia.

    September 21 2011

    Bermuda: No Easy Fix for Term Limits

    Respice Finem says that when it comes to term limits, there are no simple solutions and recommends that “now is a good time to revisit and assess if its current form is best suited to Bermuda today.”

    September 20 2011

    Curacao: Financial Reality

    “Yesterday an IMF delegation presented their 2011 Article IV Consultation Discussions: Preliminary Conclusions with the usual rhetoric, cut, reform, kill mantra”: TRIUNFO DI SABLIKA posts a poem intended to show “that these programmed Washington DC economists are not gods.”

    Russia: Unjustly Convicted Businessman-Blogger Released From Jail

    Alexey Kozlov, businessman and a former millionaire, who was imprisoned in 2007 under trumped-up accusations, has been released from jail, reported [ru]. Kozlov received online popularity for his “Butyrka [name of Moscow prison] blog [ru].” The blog was set up by Olga Romanova, Kozlov's wife and a renowned journalist. Starting 2010, started its own version of Butyrka blog [ru], telling about other unjustly convicted Russian businessmen.

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