A Travellerspoint blog

Peru's Other Face

sunny 23 °C

Peru has two faces: the pretty one of modern clean cities and world-class tourist attractions like Machu Picchu, and a much darker one where millions of people live in medieval conditions. The Peruvian countryside is littered with crumbling adobe hovels like these…
The sight of a hunchbacked old woman in traditional costume struggling to carry home a load of firewood, or leading a few goats or llamas to pasture, may be picturesque, but it’s not a picture we choose to take or share. We are often asked, “But are they happy?”. It is a question that we cannot truthfully answer, but we can say with certainty that we take no pleasure in seeing people fighting for survival in a world where we, and so many others, have so much, and where our Canadian companies are doing so much damage to this majestic land.
This is how the Andes should look, but in the north of the country, around the city of Huaraz, entire mountains have been dismantled by Barrick and other mining companies to extract metal ores, while mineshafts and slag heaps scar the faces of others, and the leachate pollutes the rivers. It is not a pretty picture, but neither is the sight of numerous young children with old shovels filling potholes in the rotten roads in order to beg a few cents from grateful motorists. We won’t photograph these unfortunate kids – but we can show the amazing pre-Inca funereal monuments at Wilcahuain and Ichic Wilcahuain which were built in the High Andes over a thousand years ago…
There are many poor communities in the mountains of northern Peru made up of the most basic adobe houses with thatched roofs…
But hidden in a secluded valley is a manicured upmarket development where hundreds of foreign miners live in luxurious isolation and earn more a week than their neighbours make in a year.

We are now in Arequipa, a beautiful colonial city a thousand miles south of Huaraz which is renowned for its fabulous cathedral…
It is Palm Sunday so we weren’t surprised to see crowds in the plaza outside the cathedral. However, we were surprised to discover that these crowds with flags and banners were not there to worship…
These crowds were protesting against foreign mining companies destroying their environment, polluting their lands and conspiring with a corrupt government.

Posted by Hawkson 15:56 Archived in Peru

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They were talking today on the radio that soon the 1% wealthy will soon own most of the resources in the world and that in Canada it will be the 10% wealthy who will own everything.
Sad. Thanks for your commentary.

by Sue Fitzwilson

Glad we don't have a corrupt government although interesting that recently resigned Conservative cabinet minister John Baird is now on the board of Barrick Mining which has big presence in Peru, I understand.

by R and B

Thank you for this post.

by The Vickerage

Here's to hope that peaceful demonstrations have effect otherwise the decades long insurgency of the Shining Path will likely return in all its devastation. The population of Peru is largely young. Let's hope the future brightens for all.

by Tom

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