“Peruvians don’t have faith in the police, we don’t have faith in the authorities, we don’t have faith in justice. But we have faith in our peers, in our country.” -Pepe
Peru has had a few rough decades. General consensus seem to place the beginning of the trouble at around the time El Sendero Luminoso came to power. The communist-party-turned-terrorist-organization, El Sendero Luminoso (the Shining Path) became best known for dynamiting power lines, setting car bombs in the Miraflores district of Lima, and its penchant for public executions. Starting in the early eighties there were beheadings. And de-armings. And de-legings.
It got pretty grim. And for a while the government just kind of puttered around. The then president, Fernando Terry, didn’t want to cede power to the army, which had run him into exile only a decade or so earlier. It took took Terry nearly a year to declare a state of emergency and when he did, the army was nearly as bad as the Luminosos. To maintain their anonymity and, thus, the safety of their families, soldiers were given black masks to wear. This anonymity was immediately exploited and led to accounts of rape, massacres, arson, and torture in quantities much too large to allow room for doubt.
Many people fled – to the US, to Venezuela, to nearby Chile – but there were those who stayed. They stayed because they had businesses they couldn’t walk away from. They had children on the way. They were rooted. My family and coworkers stayed, and suffered through bi-weekly bombings, car-jackings and streets unsafe to walk in broad daylight. Yet they are proud of Peru, nearly to a person. Those I talk to distrust the police, think that the congressmen are thieves and the president’s a crook, and yet are willing to put great stock in the average Peruvian.
This state of affairs begs the question: What amount of power given to an average Peruvian is necessary to merit distrust? It is a very interesting question, considering the presidential election is only two weeks away. Though voting is mandatory, most people don’t feel like they get proper representation, simply because there are no candidates fit to represent the people. Voting here has become an exercise of choosing the lesser of any number of evils. Yet, everyone seems to possess such passion and faith, that it’s infectious.
Maybe terrorism, human rights abuses, and political corruption will stop someday (I say someday, because they are certainly ongoing), and maybe they wont. But, IMHO, if the issue can be influenced by enthusiasm and good vibes, you can bet your ass Peru’s going somewhere great.