Don’t come to Cusco today or tomorrow

There’s a big strike in the entire Cusco region today, July 12, and tomorrow as well. Roads are blocked, transportation is largely shut down, most business are closed or operating in limited capacity. I believe the reason for the strike is to demand the start of construction of the “new” airport in Chincheros, which on a scale of stupidity 1 to 10 is about a 400. If PPK had a spine, he’d cancel the entire Chincheros airport concession contract and start over.

In fact, at risk of incurring the collective wrath of the internet and Peru at large, I think this might be the first post in a series as to why you should not come to Cusco, period. Essentially 2 reasons: 1) you can probably find better ways to spend your vacation dollars and 2) the tremendous amount of tourist dollars flowing to Cusco, free money if you will, is not improving the quality of life in Cusco, rather the opposite is happening: free tourist money is bad for Cusco, IMHO.

Poor man dies – no one cares

Yesterday 7 people died in the ongoing territorial dispute between Calca and La Convencion, areas outside Cusco that have been embroiled in a dispute about land and the accompanying royalties and revenue for some time. The past 2 days the Calca side organized a big strike in the city of Cusco and according to Diario El Sol a total of 7 people died, 6 in a car accident on the way to the strike and one man died in a confrontation with police.

Mamacita linda and some of her friends have been doing an audit in the municipality of Calca, they didn’t go into work the past 2 days but this morning they returned to continue their job. As they went about their business of nosing around the municipal office, one of Mamacita’s friends stumbled upon the body of the man killed in the strike. In a small meeting room in the municipal office, the man’s family was mourning the loss of the poor father of 5 kids. They did not have the means to hold a wake in a funeral home. There were no wreaths or flowers. These are humble people.

A poor man went to Cusco to participate in a strike which will benefit only its organizers – as most all strikes do. He obeyed those in power because he believed they were looking out for people like him. Now they won’t even buy him flowers or a decent funeral. Higidio Tapara QEPD.

I see a line of cars and they’re all painted black
With flowers and my love, both never to come back
I see people turn their heads and quickly look away
Like a newborn baby it just happens ev’ryday

I look inside myself and see my heart is black
I see my red door and I must have it painted black
Maybe then I’ll fade away and not have to face the facts
It’s not easy facing up when your whole world is black

Cusco – general strike pictures

There has been a lot of social unrest in Peru as of late, in particular in the provinces. The working class, the poor and indigenous people have been justifiably unhappy with the neo-liberal free-trade policies of the government in Lima. The worst unrest happened in Bagua last month, but there has been widespread social unrest all over Peru recently.

Here are some pictures of the general strike in Cusco today:

During strikes there are typically demonstrations by the main government buildings and the roads are often blocked. For example, there has been an ongoing dispute in Sicuani that caused temporary chicken shortages here in Cusco, since trucks were not able to come from Arequipa.

Here in Cusco social unrest is very mild. Thanks to the tourism industry the standard of living in Cusco is much different from in the rural areas. If you live in Cusco, the reality is that you should plan for about 5-10 extra days of vacation every year.

Finally, during strikes here in Cusco you see Peruvian police (PNP) standing by everywhere, in case, you know, an ice cream vendor comes by 🙂