US embassy cable - 05LIMA976

AMBASSADOR'S TRIP TO AYACUCHO

Identifier: 05LIMA976
Wikileaks: View 05LIMA976 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Lima
Created: 2005-03-01 19:04:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Tags: PGOV ECON EAID PE
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 LIMA 000976 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
DEPT FOR WHA, PASS AID 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV, ECON, EAID, PE 
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR'S TRIP TO AYACUCHO 
 
Sensitive But Unclassified, Please Handle Accordingly 
 
1. (SBU) Ambassador visited Ayacucho February 17-19, as part 
of a series of trips aimed at raising public awareness 
throughout Peru regarding potential benefits of a free trade 
agreement with the U.S.  In the course of contacts with 
public officials and opinion leaders in Ayacucho, this trip 
also proved valuable as an opportunity to observe the way in 
which this Region is managing to recover from the violence 
resulting from Sendero Luminoso's campaign of internal 
warfare during the 80s and 90s. 
 
2. (SBU) The effects of the violent years in Ayacucho are 
still evident.  Archbishop Luis Sebastiani told Ambassador 
that the populace was still "emotionally ill," and that the 
chief mission of the Catholic Church in the Region is to 
heal these enduring wounds, and bring about reconciliation. 
Community leaders recognize the importance of the report of 
Peru's Truth and Reconciliation Commission as a step in the 
right direction, but there is still a sense that this is a 
task only half done - the TRC report documented the impact 
of the SL-led rebellion and the resulting counterinsurgency, 
but little has been done in terms of individual or communal 
reparations, and Peruvian state presence remains weak. 
Local commanders of the Army and the Peruvian National 
police also felt that the TRC had been unduly influenced by 
left-wing input, and had excessively blamed the security 
forces for human rights abuses that occurred in the process 
of returning stability to the area.  However, the Army 
commander acknowledged that the Armed Forces have little 
luck recruiting soldiers from Ayacucho because of widespread 
bitterness towards the military. 
 
3. (SBU) After hearing comments at a lunch Ambassador hosted 
on 2/16 for Congresswoman Celina Palomino, local government 
officials, and business representatives, we were left with 
the impression that there was no consensus among the 
community's leaders about how to extract Ayacucho from its 
marginalized situation; in fact, this was the first time 
many of these individuals had sat down together to exchange 
ideas about a common development strategy.  The Regional 
Presidency focused mainly on building roads and other 
infrastructure outside of Ayacucho City; the Mayor's Office 
wanted to put Ayacucho back into the tourism circuit that it 
was a part of prior to the violent years, but was frustrated 
by the lack of air carrier service; private sector 
representatives seemed on the whole demoralized by the 
stagnant economy.  One ray of hope was the campaign being 
organized by the Competitiveness Center and the Peace 
Commissioner to change the public image of Ayacucho from an 
impression of lingering disorder to one of a welcoming 
destination for tourism and investment.  Congresswoman 
Palomino pledged to lend her support to the initiative, and 
the Embassy will seek to find ways to contribute as well. 
 
4. (SBU) The Q and A session after the Ambassador's 2/16 
talk on the FTA at the Peruvian Chamber of Commerce workshop 
gave an indication of the persistence of some of the 
philosophical bias that allowed SL to flourish in Ayacucho 
for so many years.  Many of the questions addressed to the 
Ambassador after his presentation displayed a lack of 
understanding of entrepreneurship and a free market economy, 
and questioned USG motives in the FTA and our counter- 
narcotics program.  The questions provided the Ambassador 
with an opportunity to respond and made the session 
valuable.  The Ambassador directly dispelled as unfounded 
the rumors circulated by USG opponents that we are spraying 
Peruvian coca and thereby sickening innocent peasants, or 
that we have military bases in Peru's jungle region. 
 
5. (SBU) The balance of our impressions is that Ayacucho 
suffers from the equivalent of metal depression.  A 
collective sense of "oh well, what can we do" hangs over the 
province and threatens to hold one of Peru's most backward 
areas in place while adjacent coastal areas boom.  That is 
not to say there are no harbingers of hope.  Though per 
capita income is less than half of Peru's average, and many 
farm families own properties of only one or two hectares, 
the Ambassador visited USAID projects that have achieved 
success in promoting cash generation through the 
commercialization of sweet pepper, avocado, and honey.  The 
Competitiveness Center in Ayacucho has identified 15 
products that are already being exported from the region. 
Bringing economic opportunity to the Region on a wide scale 
will require a continuous focus by the GOP and local 
officials to maintain and improve marketing infrastructure. 
This point was made by the participants of the FTA meeting, 
who made it clear that they wanted improved infrastructure, 
not handouts.  Security issues will continue to be an 
important factor in order to bring about assurances of 
stability.  Local officials do not expect a resurgence of 
Sendero, but there is still a sense that Ayacucho is a 
community on edge:  large-scale protests are common, and the 
Police commander pointed to the presence of about 200 
members of the ultra-nationalist Humala movement as a 
potentially destabilizing factor. 
STRUBLE 

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