Saturday, June 20, 2015


The land of the Incas, before they were exterminated by the Catholics in one of the worst acts of genocide in human history. The land of the lost and rediscovered city of Machu Pichu. The land of Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest navigable lake. The land of the Shining Path and the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement, who spent two decades doing for the rest of Peru what smallpox did for Machu Pichu – 70,000 dead, which is small by the standards of Kampuchea or Maoist China, let alone the standards of Catholicism in the region, but still a significant barbarity. The land of the coca leaf – Peru has now taken over from Colombia as the world’s leading cocaine grower. The land of Alberto Fujimori, President from 1990 to 2000 and now serving a 25-year jail term for human rights abuses. The land of Mario Vargas Llosa, and such a shame he didn’t patch up his quarrel with Gabriel Garcia Marquez before the latter died.

Through these pages of searching for signs of human development and growth, p for poverty and p for politicians have tended to bully p for progress into the p for pit of despondency, leaving behind a great deal of p for pessimism. P for Peru could so easily add one more country to that list, given what is noted about it above; but there are other factors. For one there is the reduction to a mere 25.8% for those on the list of extreme poverty in Peru - only eight of its thirty-two million people are now in that state. And for this alone there should be dancing in the streets; as indeed there is, for Peru stands alongside Vienna (the waltz), Buenos Aires (the tango), Cordoba (innumerable variations on flamenco), Glastonbury (the pogo), and Bohemia (the polka), as the originator of several forms of the dance; in Peru's case the marinera, the tondero, the diablada, the huayno and especially the glorious zamacueca, which manages to do what Peru does best, which is to combine the Andean with the Spanish to create something entirely unique.

Marks for: 74.2 (the percentage of Peruvians no longer living in extreme poverty)

Marks against: One Cross, One Fujimori.

Copyright © 2015 David Prashker
All rights reserved
The Argaman Press

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