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Ongoing Protest in Peru

Published: June 24, 2009, Author: MHirch

Frustration is tangible in many parts of Peru these days. Many citizens are totally ready to fight mismanagement and corruption, demanding to exchange the current government. Demands, however, are fragmented, no common and clear aim is put forward. Complaints are massive, the need that something has to be done cannot be more evident.

Hiking through and camping in remote Andean communities the last four days yielded some devastating sights. Poverty is abject, educational opportunities scarce, there are so many people freezing in the cold winter in clear need of most basic necessities and health care provision.

What is lacking is the opportunity for people to reunite and organize, as well as coordinate their movements. The government in Lima represents the majority of the population living in the cities. It is completely removed from the suffering taking place in rural areas. Clear solutions need to be formulated in direct consultation with the communities living in the Andes and other agrarian areas.

The only way to make themselves heard is not through peaceful demonstrations but radical protests most feel. Ongoing road blocks in more and more regions of the country are a clear sign of people venting their strong frustration with their living conditions and the political system. Currently in Cusco no gas arrives any more because of road blocks. Christina a girl from Sweden just escaped from the Arequipa region. Despite a freshly broken arm she was not allowed to leave the area and had to walk for two days with all her luggage to get to a village from where she says she was able “to flee from hell“ to Cusco.

At the Inti Raymi, the most important indigenous festival in the country, taking place today in Cusco police and national guard presence was extremely high due to expected unrest. When my friend got all her documents including passport and credit cards stolen the policeman was standing at the other side of the road. He did not even want to pay attention when we asked him for help, seemingly uninvolved and remote. He did not want to do anything but take his private video camera to get some shots of the festival. Only upon our insisting he would tell us to go to the tourist police. There they gave us completely wrong information about being able to leave the country not caring whether this could cause a lot of inconveniences and trouble absolutely disconnected from what would happen to the traveler when believing the supposed experts’ advice. The 24 hour hotline of the local US consulate was switched off at this most important day of festivity in a region considered to be a current hotbed of resistance and protest with an official strike being declared for the time being.

This makes one wonder if people employed to be role models to protect and be there for the citizens do not feel responsible: Who should be?

Chief George Manuel Memorial Indigenous Library

The library is dedicated to the memory of Secwepemc Chief George Manuel (1921-1989), to the nations of the Fourth World and to the elders and generations to come.

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