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Peru Slaps Phone Company With A Hefty Service Charge Of Its Own

Despite its huge market share in Peru, Spanish cell phone provider Movistar wanted a free ride on renewing its operating licenses. Peruvian authorities have handed the telecom giant a bill of nearly a billion bucks.


Authorities in Peru have slapped Movistar, a cell phone operator, with an $830-million bill, urging the Spanish multinational to pay up or ship out. According to Ospitel, a telecommunications supervisory organization, that's what Movistar Peru owes for continuing to use two bandwidths after the company's operating licenses expired earlier this year.

The pricey phone bill hit Movistar like a cold bucket of water. Outraged, the company insists the concession renewal should be free. "The contracts didn't include anything about having to pay once the 20-year concessions expired," says Carlos Huamán, the executive director of consulting firm DN Consultores. "That's because the government at the time was only interested in attracting investment for the sectors that were to be privatized."

Huamán explains, however, that the 50 Mhz in question are indeed of great value to Movistar. Just two years ago, the same company paid $220 million to renew its concessions in Ecuador. And it did so without raising prices for consumers.

"The Ecuadorian and Peruvian markets are similar in the sense that in both places, just two operators control roughly 95% of the market," says Huamán. "What Movistar agreed to pay there was about right considering the scale of business it does there."

Nevertheless, Movistar's spokespeople insist that in the case of Peru, the cost of renewing its concessions should be zero – for the simple fact that the terms and conditions of the original contract included nothing about renewal fees.

Read more from AméricaEconomía in Spanish

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How Brazil's Evangelical Surge Threatens Survival Of Native Afro-Brazilian Faith

Followers of the Afro-Brazilian Umbanda religion in four traditional communities in the country’s northeast are resisting pressure to convert to evangelical Christianity.

image of Abel José, an Umbanda priest

Abel José, an Umbanda priest

Agencia Publica
Géssica Amorim

Among a host of images of saints and Afro-Brazilian divinities known as orixás, Abel José, 42, an Umbanda priest, lights some candles, picks up his protective beads and adjusts the straw hat that sits atop his head. He is preparing to treat four people from neighboring villages who have come to his house in search of spiritual help and treatment for health ailments.

The meeting takes place discreetly, in a small room that has been built in the back of the garage of his house. Abel lives in the quilombo of Sítio Bredos, home to 135 families. The community, located in the municipality of Betânia of Brazil’s northeastern state of Pernambuco, is one of the municipality’s four remaining communities that have been certified as quilombos, the word used to refer to communities formed in the colonial era by enslaved Africans and/or their descendents.

In these villages there are almost no residents who still follow traditional Afro-Brazilian religions. Abel, Seu Joaquim Firmo and Dona Maura Maria da Silva are the sole remaining followers of Umbanda in the communities in which they live. A wave of evangelical missionary activity has taken hold of Betânia’s quilombos ever since the first evangelical church belonging to the Assembleia de Deus group was built in the quilombo of Bredos around 20 years ago. Since then, other evangelical, pentecostal, and neo-pentecostal churches and congregations have established themselves in the area. Today there are now nine temples spread among the four communities, home to roughly 900 families.

The temples belong to the Assembleia de Deus, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and the World Church of God's Power, the latter of which has over 6,000 temples spread across Brazil and was founded by the apostle and televangelist Valdemiro Santiago, who became infamous during the pandemic for trying to sell beans that he had blessed as a Covid-19 cure. Assembleia de Deus alone, who are the largest pentecostal denomination in the world, have built five churches in Betânia’s quilombos.

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