Ricardo Belmont Cassinelli
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Ricardo Belmont Cassinelli is a Peruvian TV network owner and politician. He was the mayor of Lima from 1990 to 1995. He was popularly known as "El Hermanón" (Big Brother) for his friendliness and also as "El Colora'o" (Ginger) because of his reddish hair.
Ricardo Belmont is the son of Augusto Belmont Bar, who founded TV Bego Excelsior (Channel 11 in Peru) in 1967. TV Bego Excelsior also owned Excelsior FM radio (104.7 FM in Peru). The younger Belmont was an avid sportsman who enjoyed soccer and boxing, and was a patron of players in both sports. His sports passion would later influence him in his political speeches, using sporting terms such as "let's all kick into the same goal post", and, during his reelection bid, "Second half time is about to start, and it's works vs. words. Choose the tree [his electoral symbol] and we'll win the game." In his "serious" life, he dedicated himself to journalism, befriending several local and national politicians all the while aspiring to be his own man in the media business. In his spare time he also dedicated his life to worthy causes, the most prominent being the local Telethon (based on the American version by Jerry Lewis), dedicated to helping the disabled kids at the San Juan de Dios Clinic in Lima.
In 1986 he took over Channel 11 and renamed it Red Bicolor de Comunicaciones (Bicolor Communications Network; the initials RBC allude to his personal name). Initially airing only from noon to midnight, Belmont mostly purchased American programming such as Bonanza, Get Smart, Bravestarr, and The Twilight Zone (the 1985 version). The few RBC-produced shows included "Desafio Familiar", which was a Peruvian version of Family Feud, "Habla el Pueblo", a Larry King-inspired talk show with Belmont himself as host, and "Mirando la Música", a music video program. In the late 1980s RBC started diversifying to break out of the niche market to compete with the Peruvian Big Two, America Television and Panamericana Television. RBC Radio 980 AM was mostly sports talk, while 91.9 FM was adult contemporary, in addition to Excelsior, which was mostly tropical and salsa.
In 1990 he announced his candidacy for the Lima provincial mayoralty as an independent. His political party, OBRAS (Works) alluded to the need for public works in Lima and the overall lack of progress as mayor by Jorge del Castillo Gálvez, who was seen more as a lackey of Peruvian President Alan García than as an effective mayor. Although he supported Mario Vargas Llosa's Presidential candidacy, he chose to oppose Vargas Llosa's party's chosen mayoral candidate, Juan Inchaustegui. Belmont's charisma developed as a TV host and his lack of political affiliation helped him earn the people's vote, and he began to start his public-works program, which included several road and community improvement projects detailed below.
Initially Belmont and the new Peruvian president, Alberto Fujimori, were seen as comrades in arms because of their common political backgrounds as independents. The fiercely independent Belmont, however, drawing on his business skills, was able to get funds from several private enterprises to fund his programs.
Among the many public works projects he completed include:
- Intercambio Vial Norte (Northern Interchange): was a paving of Avenida Universitaria linking Carabayllo and San Miguel districts, with an interchange with Panamericana Norte along the way.
- Intercambio Vial Este (Eastern Interchange): was a combination of two new bridges spanning the Rimac River linking El Agustino directly with San Juan de Lurigancho
- Intercambio Vial Sur (Southern Interchange): was an actual interchange between Panamericana Sur, Av. Circunvalacion and Av. Javier Prado that eliminated traffic light crossings.
- Several losa deportivas (sports grounds) for poor communities, mostly concrete fields for mini-soccer, basketball, and squash.
Elected to a second term in 1994, Belmont and Fujimori had a falling out, due to resentment from Fujimori at Belmont's former support of Vargas Llosa. Fujimori, through his party-controlled Congress, issued Legislative Decree No. 776, by which provincial mayors were forced to distribute their government income down to the distrital halls under them (particularly from rich to poor distrital municipalities in the interior of the country). This stopped Belmont from pursuing further public works and improvements, and the municipal employees (most of whom were APRA party members left over from the Castillo administration) began turning against him through demonstrations, increasing his unpopularity.
- Fox, Elizabeth; Fox, Fox de Cardona (1997). Latin American broadcasting: from tango to telenovela. Indiana University Press. p. 87. ISBN 978-1-86020-515-6. Retrieved 7 April 2011.
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