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Look out Chavez,Peru's Garcia may buck leftist wave
By Alistair Scrutton
LIMA, Peru, June 5 (Reuters) - If Alan Garcia's pledges are to be believed, his victory in Peru may signal that pragmatic social democracy is making more inroads in Latin America than headline-grabbing anti-U.S. populism in Venezuela and Bolivia.
The election of Bolivian President Evo Morales and his backing from anti-U.S. Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez have sparked worries in Washington about the influence in the region of leftists ready to befriend Iran or nationalize the operations of U.S. firms.
But the victory of former President Garcia -- a self-proclaimed moderate -- over the Chavez-backed leftist army nationalist Ollanta Humala in Sunday's presidential election may have put a stop to that trend.
"Garcia's victory may be a defining moment for Latin America. The kind of leftist drift feared in Washington may have stopped in Peru," said Riordan Roett, director of Latin America studies at the Johns Hopkins University.
Garcia and Chavez were openly hostile to each other during the campaign after the Venezuelan leader accused Garcia of being corrupt -- something not lost to the Bush administration, which has welcomed Peru's criticism of Venezuela for meddling in its affairs.
"This (Garcia victory) is a setback for Chavez's project," said Patricio Navia, a political scientist at New York University.
Garcia's record is dismal. His first 1985-1990 government tried to nationalize the banks and his government defaulted on its debts. Hyperinflation and prices controls ruled. Critics say Garcia II will be the same plot with the same dire end.
But Garcia made his comeback by promising voters he had learned from his mistakes. He now favors a U.S. free trade deal, waxes lyrical about foreign investment and warns of the evils of inflation.
BRAZIL AND CHILE
Analysts point to Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Chilean President Michelle Bachelet as examples of governments led by former radicals who may challenge Washington on issues from free trade to the Iraq War -- but are far more moderate than Chavez-style populists.
"With all the talk of Latin America's turn to the left, few have noticed that there are really two lefts in the region. One has radical roots but is now open-minded and modern; the other is close-minded and stridently populist," Jorge Castaneda wrote in the June issue of the journal Foreign Affairs.
'ANXIOUS TO REWRITE HISTORY'
Garcia puts himself in the first camp.
"I see myself between Chile and Brazil -- both have been successful. Lula is a realist. And the Chilean governments have had good technical teams," Garcia said in a interview with the Inter-American Dialogue think-tank.
Other countries are no longer looking like they will join the leftward shift. Mexico's Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, once a clear favorite to win July's election, has lost support and now faces a close battle with his conservative opponent.
In May, rightist Washington ally Alvaro Uribe was elected to a second term in Colombia by a landslide.
"Garcia is so anxious to rewrite history and change his legacy from total failure to success. He believes the road will take him to the U.S. (free market) tradition," said Larry Birns, director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, a liberal think tank in Washington.
But some say Peruvians have been fooled by Garcia's dazzling oratory and power will soon corrupt him.
Others fear the government will soon fill with Garcia's hard-core APRA supporters. APRA is one of Latin America's oldest parties with a cult-like following from militants with an ideology of anti-US imperialism.
"The proof will be in the pudding," said Roett. "We will have to wait and see what he does."
(Additional reporting by Adriana Garcia in Washington)
Peru's Garcia Plans to Triple Foreign Investment (Update2)
June 9 (Bloomberg) -- Peru's President-elect Alan Garcia said his government will seek to triple current levels of foreign investment in the Andean nation by encouraging projects such as the $2.5 billion Camisea gas plant.
Peru will place a priority on the plant, which aims to export natural gas to Mexico by 2009, Garcia told foreign correspondents at his campaign headquarters in Lima. Garcia, president from 1985-90, was re-elected in a June 4 run-off against nationalist candidate Ollanta Humala by 52.5 percent to 47.5 percent.
Peru, South America's fifth-largest gas producer, is counting on the project to add $2 billion in annual export revenue and create 30,000 construction jobs. President Alejandro Toledo's government signed a contract with project operators Hunt Oil Co. and Repsol YPF SA in January.
``We want all the foreign investment we can get, triple the amount during Mr. Toledo's government, if possible,'' Garcia said. ``The government will have to use laser surgery rather than an axe in negotiations with companies.''
Garcia, 57, who will take office July 28, said his government will back a free trade agreement with the U.S. while maintaining a back-door clause.
``All treaties need to be verified from a viewpoint of social results,'' Garcia said. ``Peru will have to see if it benefits from an accord or not.''
Garcia's Apra party, the second-largest in Congress, needs to reassure investors that it won't change trade policy, say analysts such as Fritz Du Bois, director of the Peruvian Institute of Economy.
``The trade accord needs to be passed by this Congress,'' Du Bois said in a phone interview in Lima. ``It would send a good signal to investors.''
Peru will seek to strengthen ties with the governments of Brazil and other South America nations to negotiate joint trade agreements with the U.S., China, Europe and Chile, Garcia said.
Garcia called on Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez to rejoin the Andean Community trade bloc and help efforts to negotiate an accord with the EU. Venezuela withdrew from the five-nation bloc in April, saying Peru's trade accord with the U.S. made the group obsolete.
Peru's currency the sol was little changed at 3.2610 to the U.S. dollar at 3:25 p.m. New York time. The Lima stock index rose 145.58, or 1.9 percent, to 7801.52 at 3:25 p.m. The yield on Peru's 9 7/8 bond due 2015 fell 11 basis points, or 0.11 percentage point, to 7.020 at 3:26 p.m.
To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Emery in Lima at at firstname.lastname@example.org Last Updated: June 9, 2006 15:27 EDT
Southern Copper Corporation engages in mining, processing, and producing copper, molybdenum, zinc, silver, gold, and lead. The company’s operations include open-pit and underground mining, concentrating, copper smelting, copper refining, copper rod production, solvent extraction/electrowinning, zinc refining, sulfuric acid production, molybdenum concentrate production, and silver and gold refining. It operates the Toquepala and Cuajone open pit copper mines in the Andes, Peru; and Cananea mine and La Caridad copper mine in northern Mexico. The company also operates copper smelter and refinery facilities in Ilo, Peru. As of December 31, 2005, it produced 1,521 million pounds of copper; 317 million pounds of Zinc contained in concentrate; 33 million pounds of molybdenum contained in concentrate; 18 million ounces of silver contained in concentrate; and 32 thousands ounces of gold contained in concentrate. The company, formerly known as Southern Peru Copper Corporation, was incorporated in 1952 and is based in Phoenix, Arizona. Southern Copper Corporation is a subsidiary of Americas Mining Corporation.
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