Life in Peru has been good to me. I don’t regret for a minute leaving corporate America to spend time with Patricia here in Cusco. I’ve been able to travel, meet a lot of great people, learn a new culture and work on things I enjoy.
There are many sides to Peru and the country still faces a lot of difficult issues, such as poverty, corporate culture and environmental protections. That said, the country is safe, has a free and open society and a generally functional democracy. Today there are great opportunities in Peru, both in life and business.
Life in Peru hasn’t always been this good. In the decades of the Cold War most of Latin America was governed by ruthless dictators and torn by civil war. Basic human rights were violated by security forces, guerillas and paramilitaries alike.
I had the good fortune of meeting one man who dedicated his life and career to promoting human rights and a de-militarization of foreign policy in Latin America, Ambassador Bob White. I met Ambassador White at a conference on Cuba policy when I was in the air cargo business in Florida – thinking at the time at some point the US would normalize relations with Cuba and we could fly there.
It’s certainly not my place to tell Ambassador White’s story, but here are some links that are worth visiting:
During his work in foreign service, Ambassador White was one of the first to question US ties to Operation Condor and he worked tirelessly to bring to justice Salvadoran soldiers who murdered four American clergywomen in El Salvador in 1980. The women were killed only a day after being Ambassador White’s dinner guests at his residence.
Today half of Peru’s population is less than 26 years old and I am often surprised that many of them seem unaware or indifferent to Latin America’s recent history. I teach kids who have no bigger worry than getting a new cellphone or MP3 player. Yet were it not for people like Ambassador White who took a principled stand, life in Latin America today would not be what it is. While there is still a lot of work to be done, I am thankful Peru has great opportunities going forward.
NB: Since 1990 Ambassador White has been President of the Center for International Policy, which advocates a responsible foreign policy and supports many Latin American causes.
NB: See the original photo used above on Flickr.