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Peru’s government announced that it has partnered with blockchain startup Stamping.io to create a transparent, contract-procurement system.

The partnership looks to create a verification system for government contracts that make it resistant to data manipulation and other fraud, and it will register purchase orders from Peru Compras, the government agency that regulates electronic purchases in the country.

The process will be digitized on an immutable ledger and is dependent on on LAC-Chain, which is a blockchain ecosystem led by the Inter-American Development Bank. LAC-Chain is a private blockchain which has nodes managed by the IDB.

Entrepreneurs and investors believe the initiative illustrates promise for the adoption of blockchain in the region.

Said Dave Mejia, Senior Blockchain Strategist at Talos Digital, “In Latin America’s emerging markets a lack of trust in financial and political institutions has long hampered financial inclusion, political participation, and entrepreneurial ambition.”

“For this region, blockchain’s distributed and immutable ledger could go a long ways towards building faith in banking, the safety of personal savings and property, political processes, and the plausibility of entrepreneurial pursuits.”

This past month, hours after a warrant for his arrest for corruption former Peruvian president Alan García committed suicide. García was accused of receiving bribes from the construction company Odebrecht.

Transparency International’s 2016 Corruption Perception Index ranks the country of Peru 101st place out of 176 countries.

Viva Air Labs Head of Innovation Clyde Hutchinson

Both startups and larger companies in Peru and neighboring countries are experimenting with implementing blockchain technologies across a variety of industries.

Said Viva Air Labs Head of Innovation Clyde Hutchinson, “We believe that blockchain has the potential to revolutionize tickets, loyalty, security and aircraft maintenance as well as the process of aviation leasing.”

“However this will require wide-scale adoption by both airlines, manufacturers and aviation leasing companies to make this a reality otherwise only thing blockchain technologies will deliver will be slower databases,” the executive added.

Beyond Peru, governments in Latin America have looked to test blockchain technology. Mexico’s government has announced plans to conduct the first ever public procurement procedure on a blockchain network, helping guarantee transparency and accountability.

In the same spirit, Brazil’s government has sought in blockchain a means of curtailing corruption and overhauling the country’s financial infrastructure.

In 2018, the state-run tech company Serpro introduced a blockchain platform designed to regulate land titles, preventing corrupt officials from altering ownership records unnoticed. And last year, Brazil’s Central Bank began testing four crypto platforms: Quorum, HyperLedger Fabric, Ethereum, and Corda.

Disclosure: This article includes a client of an ESPACIO portfolio company.

The post Peru’s government looks to blockchain to fight corruption appeared first on Perú Reports.

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15 people have died and at least 32 have been injured in a landslide that collapsed a building where around 100 people were celebrating a wedding, reported El Comercio.

The tragic event took place in the Alhambra hotel, in the province of Abancay, Apurímac at around 00:30 a.m. The hotel is situated close to a slope, and a containing wall had been constructed to protect the building. However, strong rains caused a landslide of mud and rocks which knocked down the wall, resulting in the roof collapsing on many of the party-goers.

The National Institute of Civil Defense (INDECI) posted a tweet on Sunday reporting that the landslide had caused 15 deaths, 11 of whom had been identified, and 32 people had been injured. La Republica reported that some of the bodies could not be identified immediately due to the state they were found in.

#Actualización | Respecto al colpaso de pared en Abancay – Apurímac.
Continúan labores de búsqueda en escombros con @bomberosPE y @PoliciaPeru.
Hasta el momento se reportan:
15 fallecidos (11 identificados).
32 heridos.
Se Reporta 1 menor desaparecido.#COENmonitorea pic.twitter.com/dxBy4tK9BC

— INDECI (@indeciperu) 27 de enero de 2019

One of the individuals injured was a minor of 16 years old, who was transferred to Cusco hospital (170 kilometres away) to treat “severe blunt abdominal trauma.”

Zulema Tomas, director of the Ministry of Health, told RPP that those involved in the landslide are receiving psychological support.

“Really, mental health at this time and just now, after 24 hours, comes the most painful stage of grieving,” she said. “Above all for the relatives of the deceased victims, but also for those who were present at the wedding.”

Compañías de #bomberos #Abancay 68 y #Tamburco 143 movilizaron 2 ambulancias, 2 vehículos de rescate y 1 autobomba junto a 32 efectivos a la zona donde de produjo el #colapso de una pared del hotel #Alhambra esta madrugada. Se reportan 16 fallecidos y 30 heridos. pic.twitter.com/U8TuFiqv9N

— CGBVP (@bomberosdelperu) 27 de enero de 2019

El Comercio reported that legal action is likely to be taken. It’s possible that there are more victims still hidden under the rubble, as the party had an open invite and survivors said that many of the attendees were close to the wall when it collapsed.

The building had a roof made from mud and reeds, which Analhí Sotelo – who was contracted to sing at the party – said was dripping a week before the event but that the owners had just placed buckets under the leaks.

“Inside the place was decorated with drapes and lights, so it was impossible to notice the state of the walls, columns and ceiling,” Sotelo told RPP. “There was negligence, they already knew that there were leaks and they should have warned people. The whole roof was made of reeds or material that doesn’t resist rain or blows.”

Urpi Camacho, who was also present at the wedding, told RPP that INDECI had warned the hotel that they couldn’t have events in December and January because of the strong rain forecast and the subsequent risk of landslides.

During the winter months, many areas in Peru fall prey to landslides due to strong rains and the steep slopes in regions across the country.

The post At least 15 dead and 32 injured at wedding party after a landslide appeared first on Perú Reports.

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Between August 2017 and July 2018, Brazil had its worst year for deforestation in over a decade, according to the Environmental Ministry. With Jair Bolsonaro and his newly-appointed Environmental Minister Ricardo de Aquino Salles, who has previously said that climate change is a “dogma,” it is unlikely this will  improve.

Bolsonaro has routinely attacked the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama). In first week of Bolsonaro’s presidency, the environmental chief  of Ibama also resigned amid criticisms that there were irregularities in the budget. A high-ranking official of the company told Al Jazeera that Bolsonaro was attempting “to get rid of our ability to halt policing for those committing environmental crimes.”

Policing in the Amazon is a tricky task for all countries attempting to protect the forest, which is home to a plethora of unique flora and fauna. However, poor infrastructure and limited budget mean that a police presence is absent in swathes of the jungle and illegal deforestation or mining often takes place.

RT @MongabayLatam: #Perú Devastación en la Amazonía peruana: imágenes que impactaron en el 2018 #fotos #videos
https://t.co/R0GyTF75qn pic.twitter.com/WIp9tB7Inl

— Gaia (@GaiaAmbiente) 14 January 2019

Environmental news site Mongabay reported that current illegal mining in the Amazon is “not comparable to any other period in its history,” according to a joint study of six Amazonian countries. The report also created an interactive map, which shows a minimum of  2,312 sites, 245 areas and 30 rivers affected by illegal mining across the Amazon.

According to the report, the majority of cases were in Venezuela, followed by Brazil and Ecuador, although the Peruvian region of Madre de Dios is considered to have experienced the highest level of degradation due to gold mining in the whole Amazon. The rising price of gold and precious metals have contributed to the mining “epidemic” that has swept the region, along with the staggering rate of impunity in the sector.

Peruvian media source Semana explained  that even if individuals carrying out these illegal activities are caught, it is almost impossible for them to be convicted, due to the difficulty of finding sufficient evidence. For example, the justice authorities require parts of the equipment used to carry mining as evidence, but often the miners manage to destroy the machinery before they are caught.

Peruvian startup AmigoCloud are using their Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping technology to help combat the rampant deforestation its country is experiencing. The group have recently partnered with CONIDA, the Peruvian space agency to help them process satellite images faster than ever. This will give local and regional governments the ability to more effectively track illegal mining, logging, deforestation and drugs trafficking, and hopefully provide all-important evidence to help catch the perpetrators of these crimes.

As technology and satellite imaging improve, it is hoped that it will be easier to track and protect the Amazon forest without having to spend millions to implement on-the-ground investigations, with the added benefit that it reduces impact on both the forest itself and the indigenous communities that live within it.

Disclosure: This article includes a client of an Espacio portfolio company

The post Illegal mining in the Amazon at unprecedented levels, high-tech mapping could thwart criminals appeared first on Perú Reports.

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Actor Robert De Niro is on vacation in Peru and has already stopped by one of Lima’s most decorated restaurants. The two-time Academy Award-winner stopped by Central restaurant in the capital on Friday and took a picture with chef couple Virgilio Martinez and Pía León.

De Niro is now expected to be traveling through Cusco and eventually to Machu Picchu after arriving via private plane to Lima on Friday.

During his dinner at Central, he tried the 16-course tasting menu that is Martínez’s take on a geographic tour through the biodiversity of Peru.

“We tried to treat him like he was just any other client,” Martínez told Peru’s Spanish-speaking daily newspaper El Comercio.

This is De Niro’s first visit to the Andean nation. He also stopped by Isolina, another of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants, on his gastronomic tour of Lima.

The Hollywood star won the Best Actor award for “Raging Bull” at the 1981 Academy Awards and previously had won the Best Supporting Actor for his role as Vito Corleone in “The Godfather Part II.” He has also received praise for his roles in “Taxi Driver,” “Once Upon a time in America,” “The Untouchables,” and “Casino,” among other films.

The post Hollywood legend Robert De Niro on vacation in Peru appeared first on Perú Reports.

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Peru has removed its Charge d’Affaires from Venezuela after Nicolás Maduro took over for his second term Thursday. Peru’s government has recognized the election, and subsequent Maduro win for a second term, as being illegitimate.

“An illegitimate and dictatorial regime has been installed today in Venezuela,” President Martín Vizcarra said on Twitter Thursday. “We raise our voice in protest to defend democracy in Latin America.”

The Peru Embassy in Venezuela is slated to remain open but is planning to roll back functions for the time being. Charge d’Affaires Rosa Alvarez Nuñez is back in Peru and is expected to decide, along with other Peruvian officials, over the next steps. According to the state-owned Andina news agency, one of the possibilities on the table is to sever all diplomatic ties and eventually close the embassy in Caracas.

All members of the current Venezuelan administration, including Maduro, have been banned from entering Peru. This came via a decision made this week by the Lima Group, a coalition of countries in the region, after it said it would not recognize the legitimacy of Maduro’s presidency.

“Deep inside, this shapes an international pressure that pursues the isolation of said dictatorship,” said Peru’s Foreign Affairs Minister Nestor Popolizio. “We seek to support the Venezuelan people and opposition by providing them with necessary elements and international support to do what’s necessary in order to restore democracy,”

The post Peru recalls diplomat in Venezuela as it rolls back functions on embassy appeared first on Perú Reports.

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After an avalanche led to the death of four climbers in Huaraz over the weekend – three Spanish citizens and their Peruvian guide – rescuers were able to bring the bodies down from the mountain by Tuesday morning.

The three Spanish climbers were identified as Adrin San Juan Pello, Sergi Porteros Perello and Garard Borrul Regal. The Peruvian guide has been identified as Rubén Darío Alva. All four were taken to a local morgue in Huaraz in the Ancash region.

Another Spanish climber, Paolo Belmonte Calderón, lived through the avalanche. According to the Andina news agency, the surviving climber was released from a local clinic and is said to be in full physical health.

On Sunday, the climbers reached the Mateo peak, which is more than 5,000 meters high (16,000 feet), and an avalanche struck just as they began descending.

The Association of Peruvian Mountain Guides released a statement that the avalanche took the climbers’ bodies 200 meters down the mountain. When an emergency rescue team located the bodies on late Sunday night, the Peruvian guide was still alive. Tragically, however, he died minutes later from his injuries while the team tried to attend to him.

“The problem now is that glaciers are so altered from climate change,” said Rafael Figueroa, the president of the Association of Peruvian Mountain Guides. “Before there was much more security in climbing and now there’s been a shift that has surprised our mountain guides.

The post Bodies of three Spanish climbers and Peruvian guide retrieved after avalanche appeared first on Perú Reports.

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A week after announcing he would break up a special prosecution team looking into Odebrecht’s crimes in the country, Peru’s Attorney General Pedro Chávarry has resigned. Chávarry announced the decision Monday night after mounting pressure that included a raid on his assistant’s office. He will present his resignation today in front of the country’s Board of Supreme Prosecutors.

Chávarry came under sharp scrutiny from the public and from President Martín Vizcarra after he announced that he would fire a pair of special prosecutors, Rafael Vela and José Domingo Pérez, looking into connections between the embattled Brazilian engineering firm Odebrecht and Peruvian officials.

He was previously overheard on some of the released audio tapes discussing a certain case “that bothered him” with Judge César Hinostroza, who is currently charged with corruption and accepting bribes in exchange for lenient rulings.

Vizcarra and the Executive Branch have presented a bill that would put the Attorney General’s Office in a state of emergency and allow for its reorganization. The office submitted a statement saying that the autonomy of the Attorney General’s Office must be respected and that it rejects the bill.

Chávarry said Monday night he was taking the steps to resign “in defense of the autonomy of the Attorney General’s Office and to avoid other autonomous entities being equally damaged in an unconstitutional manner.”

Five different political parties called for Chávarry’s resignation as well as the Board of Supreme Prosecutors.

The post Attorney General Pedro Chávarry resigns appeared first on Perú Reports.

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Biochemical engineer Carol Flores Fernández has received some big news to kick off her new year. The Peruvian will be continuing her studies in a doctorate program at the University College in the United Kingdom thanks to a scholarship from Peru’s Ministry of Education.

The National Program of Scholarships and Educational Credit in the ministry has awarded the Presidential Scholarship to the 28-year-old student. The all-encompassing scholarship will cover all academic costs, provide a stipend for living, transport and food, cover health care internationally, give a fund for research costs, as well as airplane travel.

Flores’ thesis will center around producing compounds that are biodegradable and can be used as everyday objects.

“I’ve always had the dream of studying abroad,” Flores said in an interview done by the Ministry of Education. “It’s a dream come true to have the scholarship because it will allow me to fulfill my professional goals.”

The young biochemical engineer was born in Trujillo but from a young age went to live in La Libertad region of Pataz province since her mother was assigned to a local clinic in the area. She said that the rural town where she grew up allowed her to better contemplate nature and wanting to make lives better for people there.

“What many would see as a disadvantage, I saw as an opportunity,” Flores said. “It was so calm that I only dedicated myself to my studies and nothing distracted me from that.”

Flores completed her undergrad at the National University of San Marcos in Lima.

The post Peru biochemical engineer receives presidential scholarship for postgrad studies in UK appeared first on Perú Reports.

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The head of Peru’s Office of the Attorney General, Pedro Chávarry, has been under fire since he attempted to get rid of the country’s special investigation committee that was looking into bribes taken by authorities from Odebrecht. On Saturday, police responded by raiding the offices of Chávarry’s advisor.

Among the items found in the office of the advisor Juan Manuel Duarte Castro was a document containing case information for Keiko Fujimori. A report from El Comerico notes that the documents from the case connect Chávarry with the alleged criminal syndicate that Fujimori was heading.

The raid was signed off on by judge Richard Concepción Carhuancho, who happens to be the same judge that gave Fujimori a three-year preventive sentence that was just upheld Friday.

After it being announced that the Public Ministry would relieve special prosecutors Rafael Vela and José Domingo Pérez from their duties on the Lava Jato case, Peruvians went out to the street in mass protest. President Martín Vizcarra said he did not agree with the decision, but would respect the ministry’s autonomy. Chávarry has yet to resign despite calls from authorities like the Board of Supreme Prosecutors for him to step down.

Pérez participated in the Saturday raid with police and announced some of the findings. He said that there was evidence showing strong connections to Fujimori’s Popular Force party from between 2011 and 2016 among the documentation uncovered.

The post Police raid offices of Attorney General’s advisor appeared first on Perú Reports.

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