This past week, we had just finished planning a trip through Peru for our winter break in July when this story came out. Obviously we read it in the local papers but I found an English version for you. Guess where we had planned to go in Peru? That’s right, Puno. Luckily the Cuzco and Arequipa parts of our trip can hopefully still be salvaged with some monkeying around with plane flights. We received a warden message also this week that what with the unrest and road blocks, the border is now closed between Bolivia and Peru. Also from the local papers it sounds like there are Bolivians stuck in Peru amongst the protests and there’s beginning to be food shortages in and around Puno. This is also winter for them so colder temperatures are an added hardship.
Though I don’t support violence and don’t know all the details, my first reaction is to side with the protesters however. Peru and Bolivia are both hot spots for mining minerals and I have heard many horror stories of irresponsible mining companies dumping arsenic in rivers, pressuring people off of their lands, dumping mercury along roadsides that children then ate, and it goes on. Oxfam America has also been speaking out on this issue ever since I did my training with them back in 2005. The documentary they put together on a gold mine in Peru had such a strong effect on me that I decided to never buy gold jewelry again unless I knew where it had come from. In the same vein as blood diamonds, they call it “dirty gold.”
Also in other news, Peru’s government is possibly going to change drastically with their elections this week. This editorial gave an interesting viewpoint of what the US could learn from their problems.
More upbeat and personal stories and pictures coming soon, we’ve had family visiting and now need some time to recover!