Lima, Peru: 90% of rescued swimmers drank alcohol

90 percent of swimmers rescued at Lima’s beaches consume liquor before entering the water, informed Peru’s Aquatic Rescue Unit of the national police. During the 2007 summer more than 2,000 rescues were carried out on Lima’s coast.

Commander David Pérez Vigo explained that drinking alcoholic beverages slows people’s movements and reactions in the water, causing swimmers to underestimate sea currents. He recommended not to enter the ocean after consuming alcohol or food. Eating before bathing heightens the risk of cramps in the water, a situation that could be fatal. If seized with a cramp, do not struggle but raise your arm for help, float and keep the affected parts of your body perfectly still.

The police authority also cautioned beachgoers not to leave the marked borders and to swim parallel to the beach instead of heading out to sea. Don’t get excited if caught in a current or undertow, but raise one arm up and float until help arrives.

Last Sunday 32 rescues had to be carried out on various beaches due to dangerous conditions created to an unusually high surf.

Perez Vigo emphasized that aquatic rescue services continue to be on duty at Lima’s and Callao’s beaches and public swimming pools even though the summer season has officially come to an end.

In case of a beach emergency please call 247-3404.

Enjoy the last few extra days of summer and keep safe.

Article by Wolfy Becker

Peru’s ex-military chief testifies Fujimori congratulated Army for massacre

Peru’s ex-head of the Joint Chief of Staff, retired General Nicolas de Bari Hermoza Ríos, testified before a commission of Peru’s Congress that ex-president Alberto Fujimori congratulated the high command of the Armed Forces for the “murder” of nine students and a professor at La Cantuta University in 1992, according to state prosecutor Carlos Briceño.

He said that Hermoza Ríos, who was appointed by Fujimori as commander-in-chief of the Army in 1991 and held this position until 1998, recognized that the ex-president knew of the existence of the Grupo Colina death squad commanded by chief of operations Martin Rivas and administrated by Major Carlos Pinchilingue.

“After La Cantuta, Fujimori emitted a memorandum in which he congratulated Martin Rivas and other members of the Grupo Colina for their good intelligence work”, the ex-general affirmed, according to Briceño, Peru’s chief prosecutor in the Fujimori extradition case.

Hermoza Rios testified he received the memorandum “in the name of the ex-president” from Fujimori’s adviser and ex-head of the National Intelligence Service (SIN), Vladimiro Montesinos, shortly after the La Cantuta massacre on July 18, 1992.

At the time, Hermoza told Montesinos that “he is rewarding a person implicated in a homicide” to which the ex-spy chief responded: “The president knows what he is doing. That’s why he signed the document (memorandum)”.

Hermoza Ríos detailed that Peru’s National Intelligence network depended solely on the decisions of the ex-president and not on the military or its High Command.

The retired general, imprisoned since 2001 on corruption charges, asserted that Fujimori presented Montesinos as his representative to the Defense Ministry. “All resolutions of the Defense sector were first transacted by the National Intelligence service”, he said.

Hermoza denied that Fujimori didn’t know about military strategies, as the ex-president recently testified in his defense before the Chilean Supreme Court to avoid his extradition to Peru.

“It’s only logical. The president was a meticulous man and he must have had immediate knowledge of such important and serious incidents (Barrios Altos and La Cantuta massacres)”, he concluded.

The protocol of Hermoza Ríos’ testimony has been included in the files Peruvian prosecutors handed to Chilean justice authorities as a part of the evidence in Fujimori’s extradition case. A ruling is expected by the end of April or early May.

Next to Fujimori and Montesinos, Nicolas de Bari Hermoza Ríos was the third member of Peru’s “ruling troika” in the 90’s.

Article by Wolfy Becker

Amazon swimmer reaches final destination despite health trouble

For 65 days Slovenian long-distance swimmer Martin Strel braved dangerous currents, battled piranhas, crocodiles and exhaustion to become the first person to swim the entire length of the Amazon river. For more than two months the marathon man averaged 80 kilometers (52 miles) daily and despite suffering from nausea, dizziness, sunstroke and diarrhea he continued jumping into the water every morning. More than once his mission seemed to come to an early end but he persevered and didn’t succumb to inner temptation or his doctors advice. On Sunday he finished the last stage, formally completing his epic achievement four days ahead of schedule. Despite warnings from his medical staff he put on his wet suit one last time to swim the final kilometers even though on Friday he could hardly stand up and his team had to drag him out of the water. He reached his final destination, the Brazilian city of Belém, where thousands of admiring spectators were waiting for him. Again, the exhausted swimmer needed the help of his team who pulled him out. Apparently Martin’s blood pressure had reached a level that doctors feared a possible heart attack. Paramedics took care of him immediately, they “had trouble stabilizing him”, his website said.

After being whisked away by ambulance in the pandemonium of his triumphant arrival to Belem, Martin insisted he have his own personal doctors to take care of him. He is currently safe in a hotel room and doctors say his condition is stable but he will still need a few days of recovery and rest.

Martin Strel, nicknamed the “fish man”, began his endeavor in Atalaya, Peru on February 1st. With his arrival in Belém, located about 2400 kilometers north of Rio de Janeiro, he broke his own world record in long-distance swimming for the fourth time: in 2000 he swam 3,004 km on the Danube river, then he mastered the 3,797 km Mississippi in 2001 and the 4,003km Yangtze in China in 2004.

For the Amazon he trained and prepared for almost two years and gained more than 20 kilos of weight. Supposedly he always brings a load of Slovenian wine – and drinks a bottle a day to stay in a good mood.

But this time he reached his upper limit, despite the “fuel”. “He’s hit point zero”, his son and project coordinator Borut Strel said. “The finish was the hardest part”, Strel said. “The closer I got to the end the less kilometers I swam because the waves from the Atlantic Ocean are pressing against the river’s stream. Sometimes I felt like I was pushed backwards.”

Within nine weeks the fish man lost twelve kilograms of weight. At times he was in such pain that his crew had to pull him out. “At one point they had to take me to a hospital for a heart examination. But everything was okay.” Cramps, infections, chronic insomnia – Strel kept on going.Besides piranhas, sharks and alligators, the marathon man was threatened by parasites like the inconspicuous freshwater fish Candirú.

The 2.5 centimeter long catfish has a reputation among the natives as the most feared fish in its waters, even over the piranha because it is attracted to urine or blood. If the bather is nude it will swim into an orifice (the anus or vagina, or even the penis—and deep into the urethra). It then erects its spine and begins to feed on the blood and body tissue just as it would from the gills of a fish.

Strel was wearing a wet suit and he was lucky. “I just think the animals have accepted me”, he said. “I swam with them for such a long time, they must now think I am one of them.”

Strel does not plan to set another record. “I will not swim the Nile”, he revealed. “Although it is longer it is just a little creek. The Amazon is much wider and mightier. And it has something else: grandeur.”

Peru adopts new economic model for Amazonian timber industry

A future economic model handling the logging industry in Peru’s Amazon rainforest will unite exporting companies and native communities with new profit-sharing regulations, announced Peru’s Exporters Association (ADEX) on Monday.

“According to this model, the exporting company assumes the responsibility of wood utilization, transformation and commercialization whereas members of native communities and the proprietors of the timber resources are put in charge of monitoring and supervising deforestation with the assistance of designated technical, professional experts”, ADEX detailed.

According to the association, this model tries to consolidate one of the more viable economic alternatives for improving indigenous life quality and the fight against illegal deforestation.

“Establishing private investment in inaccessible, poverty-stricken areas where the population doesn’t have sufficient capital and infrastructure to take advantage of their sustainable forest resource, will help to reach these objectives”, ADEX emphasized.

The new model may also boost chances for the approval of pending U.S. Free Tade agreements with Peru and Colombia. The democratic majority in the United States Congress has always demanded amendments or renegotiation of paragraphs related to this subject so that “both countries adjust to international standards for the protection of biodiversity”.

About a month ago, U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) joined Congressman Robert Wexler (D-FL), Congressman Jerry Weller (R-IL) and a broad coalition of supporters from environmental, industry, and labor groups to announce the introduction of the Legal Timber Protection Act, which bans the use of illegally-harvested timber and wood products.

“Not only will this bill protect the world’s most vulnerable forests, it will also help those nations that are aggressively working to curb illegal logging within their own borders,” said Rep. Wexler. “By reducing the demand for illegally logged timber we will provide a great boost in the fight against corruption, help stem human rights abuses, and limit the environmental degradation that accompanies illegal logging. The bill will also provide a significant boost to U.S. industry that is forced to compete with these illegal imports”, an official press release states.

“Illegal logging not only destroys rainforests and wildlife habitat but it destroys communities,” said Rep. Weller. “Criminal elements lay waste to rural areas of many undeveloped countries, destroying the economic future of these areas as well as changing the area’s climate. We must work together in a global effort to close the door to the marketplace for products made from illegal logging”.

In a recent letter sent to U.S. Trade representative Susan Schwab, Blumenauer complained that a large part of the timber entering the U.S. market from Peru and Colombia “comes from illegal deforestation, generating billion dollar losses every year for the American lumber industry”.

A first example of this new model is exporting company Forestal Venao which received a certificate by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) for its efficient handling of 82,853 hectares of forest pertaining to the native communities Sawawo Hito 40 and Nueva Azuaya, located in the district of Yurua in the Atalaya province (Ucayali).

“By issuing this certificate, this company becomes the first in receiving such recognition in Peru”, ADEX said.

Forestal Venao has made a short-term commitment to incorporate other native communities such as Santa Rosa, Nueva Victoria, El Dorado and Flor de Shengari, all located in Peru’s Ucayali region, with which they would incorporate 86,300 more hectares of rainforest.

The implementation of standards required for this certification includes the technical supervision of the “Project for Poverty Reduction and Relief (Project PARA).

Financing and technical attendance were left in charge of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Peru, which has the objective of promoting sustainable business while minimizing social influences and environmental impact, particularly in the case of the Amazon rainforest.

Wolfy Becker

German tourist dies in motorcycle accident near Cusco, Peru

A German tourist died on Sunday near the Peruvian city of Cusco after she apparently lost control of her rented motorcycle and fell into a 300 meter deep ravine. The German consulate has initiated legal proceedings to return her body to her home country.

46-year-old Monika Schmittlein, from Hueckelhoven, a small city located close to the German-Dutch border, passed away instantly. The accident occurred around 3 p.m. near Pampa Conga in the district of Limatambo (Anta province), at kilometer 906 of the Cusco-Abancay highway. She was accompanied by three other bike riders, one German and two Swiss nationals all traveling on separate bikes. Cusco’s high mountain rescue unit rescued the body.

Schmittlein was an experienced and accomplished motorcyclist who loved small Italian “Moto Morini” bikes. She was also an avid traveler who in the past explored countries such as Spain, Portugal and Greece.

Article by Wolfy Becker

Lima, Peru: 90% of rescued swimmers drank alcohol

90 percent of swimmers rescued at Lima’s beaches consume liquor before entering the water, informed Peru’s Aquatic Rescue Unit of the national police. During the 2007 summer more than 2,000 rescues were carried out on Lima’s coast.

Commander David Pérez Vigo explained that drinking alcoholic beverages slows people’s movements and reactions in the water, causing swimmers to underestimate sea currents. He recommended not to enter the ocean after consuming alcohol or food. Eating before bathing heightens the risk of cramps in the water, a situation that could be fatal. If seized with a cramp, do not struggle but raise your arm for help, float and keep the affected parts of your body perfectly still.

The police authority also cautioned beachgoers not to leave the marked borders and to swim parallel to the beach instead of heading out to sea. Don’t get excited if caught in a current or undertow, but raise one arm up and float until help arrives.

Last Sunday 32 rescues had to be carried out on various beaches due to dangerous conditions created to an unusually high surf.

Perez Vigo emphasized that aquatic rescue services continue to be on duty at Lima’s and Callao’s beaches and public swimming pools even though the summer season has officially come to an end.

In case of a beach emergency please call 247-3404.

Enjoy the last few extra days of summer and keep safe.

Article by Wolfy Becker

Peru’s ex-military chief testifies Fujimori congratulated Army for massacre

Peru’s ex-head of the Joint Chief of Staff, retired General Nicolas de Bari Hermoza Ríos, testified before a commission of Peru’s Congress that ex-president Alberto Fujimori congratulated the high command of the Armed Forces for the “murder” of nine students and a professor at La Cantuta University in 1992, according to state prosecutor Carlos Briceño.

He said that Hermoza Ríos, who was appointed by Fujimori as commander-in-chief of the Army in 1991 and held this position until 1998, recognized that the ex-president knew of the existence of the Grupo Colina death squad commanded by chief of operations Martin Rivas and administrated by Major Carlos Pinchilingue.

“After La Cantuta, Fujimori emitted a memorandum in which he congratulated Martin Rivas and other members of the Grupo Colina for their good intelligence work”, the ex-general affirmed, according to Briceño, Peru’s chief prosecutor in the Fujimori extradition case.

Hermoza Rios testified he received the memorandum “in the name of the ex-president” from Fujimori’s adviser and ex-head of the National Intelligence Service (SIN), Vladimiro Montesinos, shortly after the La Cantuta massacre on July 18, 1992.

At the time, Hermoza told Montesinos that “he is rewarding a person implicated in a homicide” to which the ex-spy chief responded: “The president knows what he is doing. That’s why he signed the document (memorandum)”.

Hermoza Ríos detailed that Peru’s National Intelligence network depended solely on the decisions of the ex-president and not on the military or its High Command.

The retired general, imprisoned since 2001 on corruption charges, asserted that Fujimori presented Montesinos as his representative to the Defense Ministry. “All resolutions of the Defense sector were first transacted by the National Intelligence service”, he said.

Hermoza denied that Fujimori didn’t know about military strategies, as the ex-president recently testified in his defense before the Chilean Supreme Court to avoid his extradition to Peru.

“It’s only logical. The president was a meticulous man and he must have had immediate knowledge of such important and serious incidents (Barrios Altos and La Cantuta massacres)”, he concluded.

The protocol of Hermoza Ríos’ testimony has been included in the files Peruvian prosecutors handed to Chilean justice authorities as a part of the evidence in Fujimori’s extradition case. A ruling is expected by the end of April or early May.

Next to Fujimori and Montesinos, Nicolas de Bari Hermoza Ríos was the third member of Peru’s “ruling troika” in the 90’s.

Article by Wolfy Becker

Amazon swimmer reaches final destination despite health trouble

For 65 days Slovenian long-distance swimmer Martin Strel braved dangerous currents, battled piranhas, crocodiles and exhaustion to become the first person to swim the entire length of the Amazon river. For more than two months the marathon man averaged 80 kilometers (52 miles) daily and despite suffering from nausea, dizziness, sunstroke and diarrhea he continued jumping into the water every morning. More than once his mission seemed to come to an early end but he persevered and didn’t succumb to inner temptation or his doctors advice. On Sunday he finished the last stage, formally completing his epic achievement four days ahead of schedule. Despite warnings from his medical staff he put on his wet suit one last time to swim the final kilometers even though on Friday he could hardly stand up and his team had to drag him out of the water. He reached his final destination, the Brazilian city of Belém, where thousands of admiring spectators were waiting for him. Again, the exhausted swimmer needed the help of his team who pulled him out. Apparently Martin’s blood pressure had reached a level that doctors feared a possible heart attack. Paramedics took care of him immediately, they “had trouble stabilizing him”, his website said.

After being whisked away by ambulance in the pandemonium of his triumphant arrival to Belem, Martin insisted he have his own personal doctors to take care of him. He is currently safe in a hotel room and doctors say his condition is stable but he will still need a few days of recovery and rest.

Martin Strel, nicknamed the “fish man”, began his endeavor in Atalaya, Peru on February 1st. With his arrival in Belém, located about 2400 kilometers north of Rio de Janeiro, he broke his own world record in long-distance swimming for the fourth time: in 2000 he swam 3,004 km on the Danube river, then he mastered the 3,797 km Mississippi in 2001 and the 4,003km Yangtze in China in 2004.

For the Amazon he trained and prepared for almost two years and gained more than 20 kilos of weight. Supposedly he always brings a load of Slovenian wine – and drinks a bottle a day to stay in a good mood.

But this time he reached his upper limit, despite the “fuel”. “He’s hit point zero”, his son and project coordinator Borut Strel said. “The finish was the hardest part”, Strel said. “The closer I got to the end the less kilometers I swam because the waves from the Atlantic Ocean are pressing against the river’s stream. Sometimes I felt like I was pushed backwards.”

Within nine weeks the fish man lost twelve kilograms of weight. At times he was in such pain that his crew had to pull him out. “At one point they had to take me to a hospital for a heart examination. But everything was okay.” Cramps, infections, chronic insomnia – Strel kept on going.Besides piranhas, sharks and alligators, the marathon man was threatened by parasites like the inconspicuous freshwater fish Candirú.

The 2.5 centimeter long catfish has a reputation among the natives as the most feared fish in its waters, even over the piranha because it is attracted to urine or blood. If the bather is nude it will swim into an orifice (the anus or vagina, or even the penis—and deep into the urethra). It then erects its spine and begins to feed on the blood and body tissue just as it would from the gills of a fish.

Strel was wearing a wet suit and he was lucky. “I just think the animals have accepted me”, he said. “I swam with them for such a long time, they must now think I am one of them.”

Strel does not plan to set another record. “I will not swim the Nile”, he revealed. “Although it is longer it is just a little creek. The Amazon is much wider and mightier. And it has something else: grandeur.”

Peru adopts new economic model for Amazonian timber industry

A future economic model handling the logging industry in Peru’s Amazon rainforest will unite exporting companies and native communities with new profit-sharing regulations, announced Peru’s Exporters Association (ADEX) on Monday.

“According to this model, the exporting company assumes the responsibility of wood utilization, transformation and commercialization whereas members of native communities and the proprietors of the timber resources are put in charge of monitoring and supervising deforestation with the assistance of designated technical, professional experts”, ADEX detailed.

According to the association, this model tries to consolidate one of the more viable economic alternatives for improving indigenous life quality and the fight against illegal deforestation.

“Establishing private investment in inaccessible, poverty-stricken areas where the population doesn’t have sufficient capital and infrastructure to take advantage of their sustainable forest resource, will help to reach these objectives”, ADEX emphasized.

The new model may also boost chances for the approval of pending U.S. Free Tade agreements with Peru and Colombia. The democratic majority in the United States Congress has always demanded amendments or renegotiation of paragraphs related to this subject so that “both countries adjust to international standards for the protection of biodiversity”.

About a month ago, U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) joined Congressman Robert Wexler (D-FL), Congressman Jerry Weller (R-IL) and a broad coalition of supporters from environmental, industry, and labor groups to announce the introduction of the Legal Timber Protection Act, which bans the use of illegally-harvested timber and wood products.

“Not only will this bill protect the world’s most vulnerable forests, it will also help those nations that are aggressively working to curb illegal logging within their own borders,” said Rep. Wexler. “By reducing the demand for illegally logged timber we will provide a great boost in the fight against corruption, help stem human rights abuses, and limit the environmental degradation that accompanies illegal logging. The bill will also provide a significant boost to U.S. industry that is forced to compete with these illegal imports”, an official press release states.

“Illegal logging not only destroys rainforests and wildlife habitat but it destroys communities,” said Rep. Weller. “Criminal elements lay waste to rural areas of many undeveloped countries, destroying the economic future of these areas as well as changing the area’s climate. We must work together in a global effort to close the door to the marketplace for products made from illegal logging”.

In a recent letter sent to U.S. Trade representative Susan Schwab, Blumenauer complained that a large part of the timber entering the U.S. market from Peru and Colombia “comes from illegal deforestation, generating billion dollar losses every year for the American lumber industry”.

A first example of this new model is exporting company Forestal Venao which received a certificate by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) for its efficient handling of 82,853 hectares of forest pertaining to the native communities Sawawo Hito 40 and Nueva Azuaya, located in the district of Yurua in the Atalaya province (Ucayali).

“By issuing this certificate, this company becomes the first in receiving such recognition in Peru”, ADEX said.

Forestal Venao has made a short-term commitment to incorporate other native communities such as Santa Rosa, Nueva Victoria, El Dorado and Flor de Shengari, all located in Peru’s Ucayali region, with which they would incorporate 86,300 more hectares of rainforest.

The implementation of standards required for this certification includes the technical supervision of the “Project for Poverty Reduction and Relief (Project PARA).

Financing and technical attendance were left in charge of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Peru, which has the objective of promoting sustainable business while minimizing social influences and environmental impact, particularly in the case of the Amazon rainforest.

Wolfy Becker

German tourist dies in motorcycle accident near Cusco, Peru

A German tourist died on Sunday near the Peruvian city of Cusco after she apparently lost control of her rented motorcycle and fell into a 300 meter deep ravine. The German consulate has initiated legal proceedings to return her body to her home country.

46-year-old Monika Schmittlein, from Hueckelhoven, a small city located close to the German-Dutch border, passed away instantly. The accident occurred around 3 p.m. near Pampa Conga in the district of Limatambo (Anta province), at kilometer 906 of the Cusco-Abancay highway. She was accompanied by three other bike riders, one German and two Swiss nationals all traveling on separate bikes. Cusco’s high mountain rescue unit rescued the body.

Schmittlein was an experienced and accomplished motorcyclist who loved small Italian “Moto Morini” bikes. She was also an avid traveler who in the past explored countries such as Spain, Portugal and Greece.

Article by Wolfy Becker

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