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Viewing cable 08LIMA1707, PUNO UPDATE: WATER ISSUES ADD TO INSTABILITY

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08LIMA1707 2008-10-23 22:10 2011-02-25 12:12 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Lima
VZCZCXYZ0002
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHPE #1707/01 2972256
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 232256Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY LIMA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9489
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION PRIORITY 2045
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA PRIORITY 6083
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 7956
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES PRIORITY 3500
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 1248
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ OCT 5008
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO PRIORITY 9597
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 2135
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO PRIORITY 2039
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUMIAAA/USCINCSO MIAMI FL PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L LIMA 001707 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/23/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR SOCI SENV SNAR APECO BO PE
SUBJECT: PUNO UPDATE: WATER ISSUES ADD TO INSTABILITY 
 
REF: A. LIMA 0997 
     B. LIMA 0460 
     C. 07 LIMA 22...


id: 175010
date: 10/23/2008 22:56
refid: 08LIMA1707
origin: Embassy Lima
classification: CONFIDENTIAL
destination: 07LIMA2000|07LIMA2236|08LIMA460|08LIMA997
header:
VZCZCXYZ0002
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHPE #1707/01 2972256
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 232256Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY LIMA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9489
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION PRIORITY 2045
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA PRIORITY 6083
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 7956
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES PRIORITY 3500
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 1248
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ OCT 5008
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO PRIORITY 9597
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 2135
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO PRIORITY 2039
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUMIAAA/USCINCSO MIAMI FL PRIORITY


----------------- header ends ----------------

C O N F I D E N T I A L LIMA 001707 

SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/23/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR SOCI SENV SNAR APECO BO PE
SUBJECT: PUNO UPDATE: WATER ISSUES ADD TO INSTABILITY 

REF: A. LIMA 0997 
     B. LIMA 0460 
     C. 07 LIMA 2236 
     D. 07 LIMA 2000 

Classified By: Ambassador P. Michael McKinley 
for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 

1.  (C) Summary: The southern highland region of Puno, one of 
Peru's most isolated and impoverished areas, is notorious for 
wide-open smuggling along its extensive border with Bolivia, 
sporadic outbreaks of political violence and affinity for 
extremist leaders and ideologies (refs).  Its proximity to 
Bolivia and similar ethnic composition (about sixty percent 
of the population is indigenous Aymara or Quechua) make it 
susceptible to some of the radical events taking place in 
that country.  Environmental degradation is an area of 
growing concern, especially as it relates to insufficient 
amounts of potable water, irrigation and the contamination of 
historic Lake Titicaca.  Water issues are becoming a source 
of social conflict and add to Puno's instability.  Emboffs 
examined some of these issues while attending the recent 
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) youth event in Puno. 
 End Summary. 

-------------------- 
APEC Youth Camp 2008 
-------------------- 

2.  (U) Poloff attended portions of the APEC Youth Camp 2008 
event entitled, "Caring for the Sustainable Development of 
the Asia-Pacific Region" held in Puno, October 1-5. 
Thirty-three APEC youth representatives from sixteen APEC 
economies attended a series of lectures and field trips that 
focused mainly on climate change and water issues, with a 
special emphasis on shared Lake Titicaca.  At the end of the 
Youth Camp event, delegates signed a declaration urging the 
private sector and civilian society to play a more active 
role in ensuring compliance with their social obligations. 
The recommendations contained in the document also seek to 
motivate governments, companies, and private individuals to 
do more to protect the environment, particularly vital water 
resources.  At the national level, the APEC Youth Camp 
received positive press coverage. 

3.  (SBU) One thousand police were deployed to protect the 
Youth Camp event according to Col.Castillo, a retired police 
official in charge of APEC security. The tight security and 
costs associated with the gathering caused some mild 
grumbling among local residents we spoke with, although 
evidence of outright opposition to the event were few.  For 
example, on October 2, a single "reservista" (an Antauro 
Humala follower dressed in military garb) attempted to rally 
a crowd in the main downtown square of Puno City.  As he 
marched around with a bullhorn, a supporter followed him 
carrying the checkered indigenous flag ("wipala"). The 
reservista trumpeted, "While the mining town of La Rinconada, 
with 30,000 people, is waiting to build its first police 
station, (President) Garcia sends a thousand policemen to 
protect 33 foreign kids at a fancy hotel." 

4.  (C) At the conference, poloff spoke with Luis Quesada, 
the MFA's Director General for Asia-Pacific Affairs, who said 
Puno was chosen as the venue for the APEC event in part to 
highlight Lake Titicaca's unique features and to call 
attention to the threats to its fragile ecosystem.  He 
confided that Peru hoped that publicity surrounding Youth 
Camp might help attract international donor support for 
projects in the area.  Quesada noted that while Peru's 
establishment of a Ministry of Environment was a recent 
development, the government of Peru is increasingly cognizant 
about the links between environmental issues, economic 
prosperity and social stability.  He added that the 
government was deeply concerned about the effects of global 
warming and the melting of glaciers that fed water to the 
city of Lima. 

Puno's Mayor 
------------ 

5.  (C) For a hands-on perspective of how water issues are 
impacting the city of Puno (same name as the region), poloff 
called on its mayor, Luis Buitron Castillo on October 2. 
Buitron (National Restoration Party - PRN) said that for most 
people in the region, deep poverty and harsh climate meant 
that the struggle for survival took precedence over anything 
else.  As a result, education was not a priority. The 
illiteracy rate for the region is 22 percent, and is 
differentiated by area and gender. Health problems are also 
related to the endemic poverty and to attendant problems such 
as poor nutrition, lack of clean water and sanitation, damage 
to the fragile ecosystem, and the absence of credit and 
investment to help people improve their livelihoods. All 
these factors contributed to Puno's underlying social unrest, 
he said. 

6.  (C) The mayor said that his city's population of 230,000 
represented the largest human settlement on the lake's shore, 
including the Bolivian side. Though its citizens have greater 
access to services than most other parts of the region, where 
on average only about one in five has access to potable water 
or a proper sewage system, the Puno municipality is blamed 
for the majority of the pollution in the lake. (Note: The 
October 3 edition of the local daily "Los Andes" carried an 
article stating that the municipality was being charged with 
"environmental crimes" for polluting Puno bay. End Note.) 
Buitron said the causes of the city's pollution are twofold: 
First, there are high amounts of untreated city sewage and 
urban runoff (during heavy rain) that are dumped directly 
into the bay.  Secondly, the bay is mostly enclosed and 
shallow, which inhibits water exchange. Buitron said that the 
city is also critically short on potable drinking water and 
needs funding to pipe water from mountain sources many 
kilometers away.  He expressed hope that the November APEC 
meetings in Lima would result in funding for needed water 
supply and treatment projects. 

Regional President 
------------------ 

7.  (C) On October 3, poloff met with the enigmatic Regional 
President of Puno, Pablo Hernan Fuentes Guzman of the "Avanza 
Pais" party.  Fuentes began the interview (he had an 
assistant film it) in a darkened room with two questions: 
whether or not poloff was a member of the Ku Klux Klan and 
what was going to happen to the United States after its 
second Great Depression?  After some rambling about Quechua 
nationalism, Fuentes ducked several questions such as his 
controversial call for Puno to become a more autonomous 
federal state.  He acknowledged that Puno was region prone to 
violent unrest and recalled the April 2004 lynching of the 
mayor and his assistant in the nearby town of Ilave.  He 
blamed most of the region's problems on central government 
and NGO neglect, however, and for their failure to provide 
the funds necessary to repair crumbling infrastructure, 
including water for drinking and irrigation.  With respect to 
pollution of Lake Titicaca, he blamed mayor Buitron and gold 
mining activities for most of its contamination.  Fuentes 
concluded the meeting by saying that he would welcome any 
U.S. development assistance to Puno. 

Tourists 
-------- 

8.  (C) On October 3, Poloff spoke with a group of American 
and foreign tourists who had returned from a one-day boat 
excursion on Lake Titicaca. They complained that they were 
each required to pay a $100 "visa fee" for visiting the Isla 
del Sol, even though the trip into Bolivian territory was for 
only for a few hours.  One tourist said he was told by an 
island resident that, "If any thing happens to Evo (President 
Morales), you Americans will be in big trouble."  The same 
tourist, who claimed to have visited Lake Titicaca several 
times previously, said that the north of the lake was 
becoming something of a "no-man's land", unfriendly to 
tourists.  He said that smuggling seemed much in evidence 
throughout the area, and while passing through the town of 
Moho, he was told that no hotel accommodations were available 
for tourists, "because they are all out of towels." 

Comment 
------- 

9.  (C) Water problems are adding to Puno's unstable mix of 
grinding poverty, inept local government, narcotics smuggling 
and racial animosities.  Such conditions are ripe for 
attracting radical actors should they decide to expolit the 
situation for their own political purposes.  There is some 
evidence that this may already be happening. For example, on 
October 20, Puno protesters began to "indefinitely" block the 
major highway linking the Bolivian town of Desaguadero with 
the Peruvian regions of Moquegua and Tacna, over rumors that 
recent government dectrees will tax farmers on irrigation 
water.  Such road blockages are fairly common in Puno and 
other indigenous regions, and often amount to naught. But it 
is worth noting that the Ombudsman's office was recently 
quoted as saying that,"political interests are behind the 
protests."  The police also reported having spotted Bolivian 
and Ecuadorian activists among the indigenous protesters. 
MCKINLEY 

=======================CABLE ENDS============================