Violent protests in Peru
Peru and Chile are two of the world's biggest copper exporters, and their economies have benefited greatly from the global surge in commodity prices over the past couple years. As is often the case, however, whenever there is an economic bonanza, the first thing that happens is that people start arguing over who deserves to get a bigger share of the loot. That is especially the case in Latin America, where a boom-and-bust mentality is deeply ingrained in the public psyche. "Grab it while you can!"
In recent weeks, people in the regions of Peru where copper is mined have been demanding that more of the tax proceeds be returned to the local governments. The confrontation centered on the southern city of Moquegua, and on Monday about 20,000 demonstrators blockaded virtually the entire city. Police were sent in to restore order, but after they used tear gas, the crowd charged them and seized 48 police officers. Some feared this might signify a revolutionary groundswell, but the next day they released the hostages. See BBC. This takes a little pressure of the government of Alan Garcia, who used to cater to such populist impulses during his first term (1985-1990), but now is governing in a more responsible way. Poor people don't like that approach, it seems.
Elian joins young Communists
It was nearly eight years ago that the United States government in effect deported a six-year old boy back to Cuba. Freedom-loving people will never forget the photographs of heavily armed Federal marshals taking a terrified Elian Gonzalez from his relatives in Miami to be with his father in the "socialist paradise" of Fidel. So now we learn that 14-year old Elian has joined Cuba's Communist Youth organization, a sort of totalitarian Boy Scouts. See CNN.com. Do they award merit badges for turning "subversive" parents in to the authorities? Janet Reno must be so proud!