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5/13/08

The Fifth European Union - Latin America and Caribbean Summit (EU-LAC)

Here we go with a nervewracking week for Alan "more cake" Garcia and company. Peru is hosting the EU-LAC V summit this week (in Spanish ALC-UE, as in the official logo above), with most meetings and bigwigs concentrated around Lima but some other meetings being held in provincial towns and cities.

Find out the basic stuff at the summit website right here, but your diligent Otto will be keeping an eye on the news as it happens. To kick off, here's a few phun phacts and phigures to mark your card before things hot up.
  • The summit is based around discussions on the two main themes of poverty, inequality and social inclusion and sustainable development, climate change, environment and energy. All in all, Peru is a good place to chat about these things as it has been suffering heavily from all of them.
  • 94,500 police officers (yes, that number is correct, and I had to check to make sure, too) have been mobilized up and down the country to make sure things run smoothly. Expect a crime wave to hit any town without a summit meeting, cos all the police will have been moved out. 48 sharpshooters will be deployed in key points around the city of Lima.
  • What prime minister Jorge Del Castillo calls transit restrictions in "some zones in Lima" turn out to be 14 sizeable areas totally blocked off around hotels and conference halls in the middle class zones of San Isidro, Miraflores, San Borja and Surco. Limeños will particularly enjoy the blocking of a section of the main Javier Prado urban expressway. If you know Lima, you'll know what kind of chaos this will cause in the next 4 days.
  • Included in the list of attendees from 58 countries is Hugo Chavez who will surely be a centre of attention of his own making, as will the person he recently called a descendant of Hitler, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel. "¿Porque no te calles?", anyone?
  • The government is scared to death that protesters and marches ruin their hermetic show. In Arequipa, city of over 1 million people, a general strike has been called for the 14th an 15th May, coinciding with the main conferences there. Cusco is also set for protest marches and potential trouble. Expect a news blackout if things get violent. The words of Del Castillo just about sum up how this mediocre government is all about image and nothing about substance: "....It's not good to give Peru a disorderly appearance that these strikes would give it. When you invite someone important to your house you take them to the living room and show them your best and not the worst... the living room is clean, the furniture in its place, the bathroom is clean and you offer the best food...."
  • Other protests and shadow conferences have been called by opposition leaders in Peru. President Garcia has already made not very subtle threats of police repression if any of these unofficial parties get out of hand, asking the forces of law and order to use "energetic action" on anyone trying to spoil his show. The fear of that bad show is palpable in a statement made by summit head Ricardo Vega Llona when he said, "..Labor union leaders are trying to take advantage of EU-LAC summit to call people's attention and cloud it, but I am sure Peruvians will not support this type of opposition...." Yeah right....
  • Talking of parties, to try and keep the great unwashed from their pretty show, the government is laying on two ad-hoc fiestas, one in the North zone of Lima and one in the South. I wonder why...........
So let the games begin, and rest assured anything worthy of gossip and snark will find its way onto this blog.