Lockdown

On Sunday, October 21st, the whole of Peru is under house arrest. Nobody may leave their home; no business may open; even the homeless will be rounded up and confined to sports stadiums. Police and military will patrol the streets to enforce the “immobility order”.

The reason for this unprecedented measure is the National Census, run by the governmental statistics institute INEI. In one day, they plan to gather information on all of Peru’s estimated 27 million inhabitants.

Tourists and business travelers will not be exempt from the measure, which will be in force from 8am to 6pm, and the Ministry of the Interior has recently reversed a previous decision and stated that anyone found out of their home will be fined.

The only exemptions are for businesses considered of absolute priority, such as hospitals and power stations. No supermarkets or stores may be open during the hours of curfew, and all transport will be suspended.

In previous declarations, INEI stated that international and internal air transport will proceed, and that taxis will be permitted to operate to and from airports – but not for other routes. However, a communiqué issued today calls that into question, stating that “aircraft… may not transit… national territory”.

Foreigners present an unusual situation, and INEI have yet to respond to The Lima Bean’s inquiries regarding how the rules apply to them. We advise that all tourists and business travelers ask their hotels what arrangements will be made.

Given that all stores and restaurants will be closed, INEI have advised that anyone who will be in Peru on the 21st of October stock up on food and other necessities a few days in advance, to prevent shortages due to sudden buying.

In addition, the purchase and consumption of alcoholic beverages will be outlawed for 24 hours, starting at 6pm on Saturday October 20th.

UPDATE

The directors of INEI have informed The Lima Bean that no exceptions will be made for foreigners, be they residents, tourists or business travelers. All persons must remain wherever they spent the night of October 20th, until 6pm on October 21st. They may leave and pass freely on the streets on the early morning of the 21st, but must then return to their hotel, where they will be allowed to leave only in case of emergency such as fire, or if they have a confirmed outbound ticket on an international flight. There will be zero tolerance for anyone found outside without permission.

Persons staying at hotels classed with three or more stars will be assessed by hotel staff, while those staying at other establishments or in private homes will be assessed in the normal manner.

In rural areas, the census will take place from October 21st to November 4th.

Cusco airport modernizations to “triple connectivity”

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Modernization work to Cusco airport will triple its connectivity and allow enhanced connections with international flights into Lima, according to Chamber of Tourism chairman Daniel Ratti.

He said that the installation of new runway lights and a satellite-linked landing system will allow aircraft to land during conditions of poor visibility and at night time.

The improvements, scheduled to be completed by the end of the year, will make the airport able to accept flights 24 hours a day, greatly adding to its connectivity.

“Starting in 2008, tourist arriving in Lima at 6pm on flights from Europe will be able to connect directly to an 8pm departure for Cusco, rather than having to wait until the next day,” said Ratti.

He added that efforts are underway to procure the same system for Lima’s international airport, which is currently often closed due to low-lying fog.

Grenade and cannabis plantation found in Lima avenue

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A fragmentation grenade and more than 200 cannabis plants have been found in an avenue in Lima’s La Victoria region.

Municipal gardeners came across the grenade at about 10am, while tending the plants in the central reservation of San Eugenio Avenue. They immediately alerted police, who called specialist officers from the EDEX “bomb squad” division to render the weapon safe and remove it.

A few meters away, the gardeners then came across a large number of cannabis plants, growing hidden amongst the trees between the carriageways of the avenue and opposite the San Norberto high school. A total of over 200 plants were found and destroyed.

Police sources state that an investigation is underway to find those responsible.

La Victoria is a central district of Lima, and the terminal for many buses to and from the capital. However, many parts of the large district are generally poorly policed and unsafe for foreigners.

Weather forecast

Peru’s meteorological service SENAMHI has forecast drizzle and low temperatures in Lima this week, with dense fog in the mornings.

Fog is expected to dissipate by 9am in regions away from the coast, while seaside districts such as Miraflores can expect it to remain until noon.

Coastal areas will not see the sun this week, while there is a possibility of some faint sunshine in other parts of Lima.

The southern mountains, and Puno region in particular, are expected to be prone to extreme low temperatures, as harsh as -27°C (15°F).

Juan Diego Flores receives Peru’s highest honor

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Today Peru’s President Alan Garcia awarded the order of the Sun of Peru at the level of the Grand Cross, the nation’s highest honor, to Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Flores.

The ceremony took place in the Gilded Room of the Palace of Government, where the president recognized Flores for his outstanding contributions to Peru’s worldwide image. The tenor is thought of as among the world’s greatest classical singers, vaunted by many as the successor to Luciano Pavarotti.

The order of the Grand Cross of the Sun of Peru is the nation’s highest honor.

Peru Reserve Bank chief: stock exchange volatility down to inexperienced investors

Julio Velarde, the President of Peru’s Central Reserve Bank (BCRP) yesterday blamed recent instabilities of the Lima Stock Exchange (BVL) on the influx of a large number of inexperienced investors, drawn in by the indices’ high yield this year, who then panicked when prices started to drop. He estimated their total investment at around US$500 million.

“People without much experience on the exchange were jumping in, buying up the stocks that had already experienced a lot of growth this year. They bought when the stocks were highly valued, and when the indices started to drop they started to panic and moved to sell out,” said the finance director.

He attributed part of the recent sudden drop of the exchanges indices to this mass selling by small investors, who had been attracted by the exchange’s growth; but described the recent drop as a readjustment that is already over, and not indicative of a slowing in overall growth. He pointed out that the BVL has grown by 168% in the past twelve months, with 42% increase so far in 2007 alone.

Lima Stock Exchange breaking records for growth

By midday today the Lima Stock Exchange (BVL) had already broken records for growth on a single day, with the General Index (IGRA or IGBVL) increasing by over 7.8% — more than enough to offset yesterday’s catastrophic fall. The Selective Index (ISEL or ISBVL) rose by 8.25% in the same time.

On a day that seems to be bringing further rises in international metals prices, the mineral sector is recovering very fast from the heavy losses experienced over the past few days, with investors hurrying to buy into what seems to be the start of a new upsurge.

UPDATE: By early afternoon, the General Index was showing growth of 8.35% and the Selective Index 8.50% today. Some analysts were talking of a 10% increase by close of trading.

See also:
President Garcia: economy as solid as a rock
Lima stock exchange back in the black, with furious trading and staggering increases
Record losses on Lima Stock Exchange