By Mariana Bazo
The Lurigancho prison in Lima is one of the most overcrowded, violent and unruly jails in Latin America. More than 8,500 prisoners live within its walled perimeter with so much freedom that they have created their own city which reproduces the urban society on the outside, including its most unjust and grotesque aspects. The passageways and open areas are filled with vendors, food stands, soccer fields, industrial zones, rehabilitation centers, barber shops and even pet animals.
It is a tyranny with its own laws imposed by the president and bosses of each sector. Its unique social and economic strata, with classes of poor and rich, are all governed by the power of money and force.
By Mariana Bazo
It would be impossible to think of rescuing miners and not to associate such thoughts to the rescue of the Chilean miners in San Jose, Copiapo, 2010. That really was a glorious rescue after a lengthy sixty-nine day underground wait.
This time in Peru, nine miners were trapped in an illegal copper and gold mine in the desert of Ica, south of Lima.
By Mariana Bazo
On my numerous trips around the outskirts of Lima I’ve long been struck by the sight of elderly women combing garbage dumps and lugging huge bags filled with recyclable items. I’ve photographed several of them and while talking to them I always get the same story – they pick up bottles, paper and cans they can sell later, and that little money allows them to survive. Some of the women are abandoned and have no relatives, but others prefer to live on their own means rather than depending on handouts. It’s common to hear them say that this is the only job they can get at their age. I often notice a certain glimpse of happiness when they talk about their hard-earned independence.
Peru’s national statistics bureau has published figures that older adults who don’t have retirement plans are forced to develop strategies for survival, to avoid being economically dependent and socially vulnerable, and these garbage pickers fit exactly that description. Many poor elderly women are excluded from social services and have never been in the formal workplace. Many are Andean migrants without the same education opportunities as men, to the extent where many are illiterate.
By Mariana Bazo
Nearly 300 Haitians are stuck in Inapari, a tiny Peruvian village on the border with Brazil. They are victims of the 2010 earthquake in their country and traveled weeks chasing their dream of simply getting a job. They believe that in Brazil the upcoming World Cup is creating great opportunities.
Some 3,000 kilometers after leaving home, they reached the Brazilian border only to find it shut to them, closed to stop the wave of their compatriots that began to arrive after the disaster.
By Mariana Bazo
On Monday, after several attempts, Lori Berenson finally managed to leave Peru for her native New York. And although it was a full year since she had been freed on parole, a total of fifteen years had gone by since the first photo I took of her. Peru has changed enormously since then. I still remember clearly the face-to-face encounter I had with her at the interview with Reuters the day after she was paroled.
I left my car badly parked and ran to the appointment in an old building in downtown Lima. I got lost, entered a slow elevator, and in too much of a hurry to realize exactly where I was headed and with whom I was to meet, the door opened and I was suddenly face to face with her. It was 15 years since I first met her, but it was the first time that we shook hands. The attorney asked, “Do you know each other?” I answered, “Well yes,” and I blurted out my name.
By Mariana Bazo
I arrived, greeted her, and was practically ignored by her. I took a few pictures, but it wasn’t a situation just to jump into and shoot away. I approached her and chatted. She was indifferent to the camera. Her movements were quick as she spun around. I didn’t want to invade her space, so I mostly observed and conversed. She hardly spoke to me, or to anyone.
At one point she was exercising with a ball and her trainer, and as I was taking pictures I tripped and fell on my back. She started to laugh a lot, at me.
PISCO, Peru, Aug 12 (Reuters) – Peruvian President Ollanta
Humala on Friday promised “more action and fewer words,”
breaking two weeks of silence and speaking for the first time
in public since taking office.
Humala, who has avoided taking a stand on divisive debates
that could irk his leftist base, unnerve investors or cause
strife in his ideologically-diverse cabinet, said he would be a
hard-nosed leader that gets things done.
I went to the police rescue unit to take pictures of a Humboldt penguin, which is on the endangered list, that had been rescued a few days earlier from a beach full of bathers, very far from its natural habitat. The police chief told me, “We’re going to free it. Come with us.” Lima, Peru, is a city on the edge of the Pacific, with buildings and beaches full of summer tourists, traffic, noise and heat…and amidst all that, Tomas appeared.
Tomas was quiet and relaxed while awaiting his transfer to an island where there are entire colonies of his kind. The police rescuers took turns taking pictures with him and chatting about what penguins are all about. They named him Tomas after their cook at headquarters, because they both walked with the same gait.
MACHU PICCHU, Peru, Jan 28 (Reuters) – Hundreds of tourists emerged from a grueling 28-mile (45 km) trek along Peru’s Inca trail on Thursday to find the ancient Machu Picchu ruins cut off by floods and mudslides, and joined the 1,200 or so travelers waiting to be airlifted out.
Roughly 1,400 tourists have been evacuated since the heaviest rains in 15 years pummeled the area over the weekend, but some 1,200 people are still stranded near Peru’s top tourist spot, and new travelers are arriving daily.
Groups that began the roughly four-day hike earlier in the week, before authorities shut it down, are trickling in and complicating aid efforts.
Five people, including two on the Inca trial, have been killed by the floods and mudslides.
"It’s completely chaotic. There are problems with the organization of evacuations, and problems distributing food and medicine," said Randall Molina, a Swiss tourist who has been stranded since Sunday.
The military is running helicopters out of a soccer field in Aguas Calientes, the town nearest the ruins, where women waiting for flights cried as they were separated from their husbands and adult children.
Officials say it may take three days to get everyone out.
Machu Picchu, which was built in the mid-15th century and lies some 680 miles (1,100 km) southeast of Lima, is a World Heritage Site. About a million people visit the ruins, which lie 7,874 feet (2,400 meters) above sea-level, every year.
Aside from hiking, the only ways to reach the Incan site is by helicopter or train service, which has been suspended.
According to authorities, nearly 3,000 homes and several bridges have been destroyed by the rains. Roughly 32,334 acres (13,085 hectares) of farmland have been damaged.
Cusco’s governor has put an initial estimate of the damage at $280 million. (Additional reporting by Marco Aquino; writing by Dana Ford; editing by Todd Eastham)
MACHU PICCHU, Peru, Jan 27 (Reuters) – Hundreds of tourists faced sleeping outdoors or in train carriages near Peru’s Incan citadel Machu Picchu on Wednesday as they wait to be airlifted out after flooding and mudslides stranded them.
Around 700 tourists have been evacuated by helicopter, but some 1,400 are still waiting to be pulled out after the heaviest rains in 15 years pummeled the area over the weekend, killing 5 people and cutting off Peru’s top tourist pull.
"We’ll house as many as can, up to 500 people maybe," said Rosa Tupayachi with PeruRail, the company that runs trains between the Inca ruins and the nearby city of Cusco.
Around 300 people slept in train carriages and at the station on Tuesday night. Services have been suspended.
Aside from the train, the only ways to reach the ancient Inca fortress are to trek some 28 miles (45 km) through steep mountain passes or by helicopter.
Some stranded tourists complained about the pace of the rescue effort and at least one tour operator said supplies of food and water were running low.
"It’s a very difficult situation and I expect it’ll go on for at least a few more days," said Dennis Clarke, a Canadian tourist, as he was waiting to board a rescue helicopter.
"People are anxious. A lot of people here have connecting flights, other places they need to be," he said.
Machu Picchu, which was built in the mid-15th century and lies some 680 miles (1,100 km) southeast of Lima, is a World Heritage Site. About a million people visit the ruins, which lie some 7,874 feet (2,400 meters) above sea-level, every year.
The government has declared a state of emergency.
Tour guide Cecila Molina in Aguas Calientes, the town nearest the ruins, said food was scarce and that some vendors had tripled their prices.
Television images showed travelers, locking arms for balance, attempting to cross low-level rushes of muddy water. Some got stuck and fell down.
Officials expect the rains to continue off and on until the weekend, but with less intensity than in the past few days.
Cusco’s Governor Hugo Gonzales has said some 1,200 homes have been washed away by the rains, as well as several bridges and some 22,240 acres (9,000 hectares) of farmland.
He put an initial estimate of the damage at $280 million. (Additional reporting by Marco Aquino and Dana Ford; Editing by Simon Gardner and Vicki Allen)