The content of this webpage, and everything associated with this webpage, is independent of the Peace Corps and the United States Government, though I think they should read it too. This blog solely reflects the experiences and observations of Jake DeBerry.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Protests in Tarica

The mayor of my town has never really given me much time…even though I’m here and I’m free. Given, he is a busy guy with lots of construction going on around his district. The district has about 5,000 people, the town of Tarica (where I live), has about 1,000. The remaining 4,000 are dispersed between other small towns, one of equal size as Tarica, the rest live in really small towns further out in the mountains and consist primarily of farmers. (pic: municipality in Tarica, yes, that's a guy with a tear gas gun...)

Well, for the past 3 months, there have been suspicions that the mayor is stealing money that they receive from the mines (there is a Canadian gold mine community in Tarica). Right now, it’s estimated that he’s stolen about 2 million soles (=$700,000). There are talks about him getting arrested soon, but the rumor mill out here is just as bad as in the States…if not worse. There is little doubt about him stealing money…but who knows if anything is actually going to happen to him since he can pay off others. (pic: the protesters with security watching)

This previous Monday there was a protest from one of the towns and last month there was a protest from the local school. Last year, the mayor promised to do a number of things for this town, from building onto the school and providing computers as well as getting running water for all (water from a tap is not an assumption here). Meanwhile, all the projects from the town he is from are completed. He says there just isn't enough money to get them done...

The irony of the situation is that hardly anyone in Tarica has money to pay taxes. The people protesting for improvements don’t pay taxes but yet they expect government improvements. So…here we have the mayor stealing money the town receives from the mine….while those poor people are demanding improvements they have not collectively paid for…all fighting for money that was never really theirs to begin with. (Pic: group of women and beyond on the platform the mayor and his entourage).

Meanwhile, I’ll continue teaching English classes in a tiny room because the mayor won’t help us out with a communal building. I’ll continue to not spend time working on tourism for the municipality…which is something I could easily help out with. I’ve offered…but now I wouldn’t want to help because I do not want to be associated with the mayor.
(pics: the clothing of the women is beautiful...during the protest, the women made sure to wear their best and cleanest and most colorful outfits)


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