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3/8/09

Peru: The Twobreakfasts GDP growth obsession bears its bitter fruit

Twobreakfasts "inaugurates" a sham in Santa Anita

On February 6th, Alan Garcia inaugurated a new S/25m geriatrics hospital in Santa Anita, in the Lima conurbation. There for the cameras were plenty of beds with plenty of occupants and a President Twobreakfasts that assured the thronging throng that Peru would inaugurate "a hospital per month" over the next 16 months.

It was a total sham. As soon as the cameras had gone the hundred or so human props, aka pensioners that deserve respect and treatment and simply get ignored and ridiculed by their government were shipped out of the "newly opened" centre. Up to last Thursday when Peruvian TV's 'Canal N' produced a special report on the hospital, there were no patients in situ. As soon as the cameras showed up authorities found three pensioners to lie amongst the builder's rubble and unconnected electricity cables, but even then the cameras captured near farcical scenes of ambulances arriving with old age pensioners and failing to find an unlocked door to get the poor souls inside.

This is the world of Twobreakfasts in microcosm. Screw the people, just give them a media show and dazzle with statistics. Yes, that S/25m was invested and added to Peru's infamous GDP growth figure. But the amount of true benefit that this S/25m has brought to the people that matter (Peruvians, not foreign bondholders) is precisely zero soles.

So when will this hospital eventually open properly? Nobody seems to know. The head of the EsSalud health service yesterday said that they planned to have a third of the 178 beds filled "in March", but there must be doubts that the building will be ever be equipped and staffed properly, something true for the other 15 hospitals on this "one a month" program. The government recently showed just how empty the coffers really are when it admitted that it didn't have the U$25m needed to finish the much delayed Fawcatt bypass that should have connected Callao to Lima many months back. There's always money for Alan's friends in the homebuilding business (his connections are deep, long-lasting and have been very profitable over the years), but when it comes to wasting money on social care and throwing it down the black hole of public services, things suddenly grind to a halt

The new hospitals program totals U$320m (over a billions Soles) in investments that, please note, is already added to the artificially created growth calculations for 2009 and beyond. It matters not to this charlatan of a President and his corrupt-to-the-core government lackeys that no benefit comes from his obsession with GDP growth. It's clear to those that watch Peru that Twobreakfasts doesn't care about anything but the money. Alan Garcia is Latin America's least popular President and this is not some statistical fluke. Ask Peruvians about him, not the English-language media.