Why Peru is poor

or – why every Peruvian needs a Jack Russell terrier.

Why Peru is a poor country

Why Peru is a poor country

The picture is from the park in our complex. Although the soccer goal only collapsed in the past month or so, the park has been in complete disrepair for as long as I’ve been here, and most probably long before that. About a month ago, the mayor of Wanchaq put up a sign that he would build a beautiful new park in our complex, 80% financed by the city.

Great news, everyone was all excited, right?

WRONG. A bunch of people in our complex were up in arms that a nice new park would only attract drunks and teenage couples, so they complained at the municipality until the mayor dropped the idea of building a new park.

I once read in El Comercio: “Peru is a poor country because Peruvians act like poor people.” I totally agree with that. The reason our park is in disrepair has nothing to do with money and everything with attitudes. The people in our complex have cellphones and internet, they buy stuff every month from Avon and L’Ebel and so forth, but they refuse to improve the neighborhood they live in.

Our daughter won't play on this junk

Our daughter won't play on this junk

Our neighborhood in Cusco, Peru

Our neighborhood in Cusco, Peru

To any observer here it is obvious how the political and business elite in Lima is totally disconnected from the way of life in the provinces, plenty has been said about that. But I believe there is another issue in Peru:

The middle class is hiding from life.

The dilapidated park in our neighborhood is only one example. The middle class in the cities in Peru lacks initiative and organized behavior, they simply don’t act as if they are empowered to create a better tomorrow. On top of that, they complain about Indios but forget it’s people like Mama Vicky who put food on grocery store shelves. Say what you will about the current recession in the developed world, the middle class in the US is not to blame for that. The high standards of life in the US and Europe are because the middle class always felt empowered and believed they could make a better tomorrow.

I shake my head every time someone tells me they want to leave Peru because there are better opportunities in the USA. Horsebaloney. There are tons of opportunities in Peru, fantastic human and natural resources, but you have to make your own happiness. Take advantage of the opportunities instead of backing away from the challenges.

This is why every Peruvian needs a Jack Russell terrier. Our dog Roxi has boundless self confidence and energy, she will never, ever, back down. She barks at Rottweilers and Mastiffs – she might get her butt kicked, but she will never put her tail between her legs and go hide.

The Peruvian middle class needs a dose of that type attitude fast, so they will start taking on some of the challenges in Peru – or they shouldn’t be surprised in 2011 to wake up to their own copycat of Hugo Chavez or Evo Morales.

8 thoughts on “Why Peru is poor

  1. Pingback: Peru, safety and pitbulls « Life in Peru

  2. I agree about the “poor attitudes.” You also mention something I observed as well, Peruvians have their priorities backwards when it comes to spending their money. They spend on “stuff” first before the “necessities.”

    The Peruvian middle class is “reactive” rather than “proactive.” Should they have been more “proactive” your complex could have had a nice new park for your daughter and other kids to safely play on.

  3. Thanks Rachel. You’re right about the Peruvian middle class being “reactive” no mas. That’s why I try to turn all my students at ICPNA into rebels, hopefully they’ll start to change some of the “old ways”.

    I mean, I love Peru, but I’m not naive about the quality of life for many here.

  4. so very true… my ex gf always acted like she was poor, that there were no opportunities etc etc. but it was funny last year before ended all contact she bought 2 new phones of course one claro and one nextel, a new laptop, clothes, all kinds of things. it was quite a shopping spree. personally. I think many people complain way too much. but hey like they always say… “the grass always looks greener on the other side”

  5. Yikes matt, sounds like a nightmare for you.

    But I agree, a lot of migration to the cities or the US/Europe is because people tend to believe “the grass is greener on the other side”.

  6. To whom it may comcern,
    I am a teacher at St. Cletus Catholic School in Gretna, Louisiana. (U.S.A.)
    Our Mission Country this year is Peru. I am trying to get pictures of the children and areas that we might be helping with our mission money. We have a mission fair each year and all monies are sent to our mission country. My PreK-3 class is very interrested in how the children live and play in Peru. If you could help with pictures or websites it would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you our Mission Friends,
    Mrs. Charlotte Patterson Pre-K 3 Teacher

  7. Interesting observation. I did notice the poverty in the photos shared with my friend and wasn’t sure how widespread it was over there. Has the attitude changed any since you wrote this post?

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