Yesterday Peru went to the polls and elected a new crop of regional and municipal leaders. There are plenty of story lines out there if you’re into that kind of thing. Just look for #MadeleineOsterling or #CastanedaLossio, read about the influence of cocaine cash or the soap opera around Gregorio Santos. One of the more interesting story lines is how practically none of the elected local and regional candidates have any affiliation with the supposedly “national” parties in Lima, in other words, central government is extremely weak.
Rather than talk about politics on a grand scale, you know I prefer the personal side of things, so I’ll share a personal election story.
Last week Mamacita Linda was late coming home from her job. She’s been working in a town about an hour outside of Cusco. Upon leaving her job, Mamacita Linda and her coworkers couldn’t immediately get to their driver because 2 political candidates were having their “closing rally” and the streets were packed. Eventually a large group of moto-taxis with flags for one of the political candidates passed by. Mamacita Linda and her friends waived down one of the moto-taxis and asked if he’d give them a ride to the terminal where their driver was waiting. The moto-taxi said he couldn’t, that he was participating in the political rally.
Always the economist, Mamacita Linda asked: “Wouldn’t you rather make a few $ than to participate in this rally?”
To which the moto-taxi driver replied: “I have to participate in the rally. This candidate paid for each of us a tank of gas so we are supporting him.”
There you have it. People gave their lives for the right to vote. Nowadays in Peru, your vote is worth about 2 gallons of gas.