Between hope and trepidation
Just after 8 am I am given an update by the Head of Security. The President has taken off from Lima on his way to Cusco. As soon as he lands at the tourist metropolis’ airport, the die will be cast. The continuation of his journey will only go-ahead, if the Head of Police gives the green light. In all considerations today the President’s security plays the most important role.
A female civil servant from the Palace offers me some encouragement: she shows me the President’s morning address broadcast on National TV: “I am flying to Curahuasi now where German missionaries have built a modern hospital for the poorest of the poor.” I breathe a sigh of relief, but my gaze wanders to the mountain slopes; I perceive the situation there and am sceptical.
Oebele de Haan arrives by van at the amphitheatre bringing 4,500 pre-packed bags. Yesterday countless hands filled plastics bags; each contains a carton of juice, a sandwich, a bar of chocolate and a pen. One for each visitor; that was the idea. But will any visitors come? The amphitheatre stills looks pretty empty. One at a time the police are letting Curahuasinos through the final checkpoint.
“Dr Klaus,” call the Head of Police, “If the President should really come, the amphitheatre simply cannot be empty. Get your people organized!” I gulp. I cannot wave a magic wand and the amphitheatre is filled in the next split second. Whilst planning the event the palace organizers and I had reckoned with 4,000 visitors. But now the roads are chock a block. I hear that everyone who wants to attend our anniversary has to walk the final stretch. Presumably the church communities who are coming from the neighbouring hills via bus or lorry won’t make it in time. The usual traffic jams on the Panamericana are a challenge to their journey, but the complete block of the Panamericana shifts everything into a different gear.
On the stage the five models of the TV-towers are standing in a row alongside a model of the Orthopaedic Workshop. On one big photo one can see the hospital’s new storey. That is all well and good, but will there be anyone to celebrate?
The noise of thunder breaks through the clouds. A helicopter of the armed forces is practising coming into land. Should the pilot, for whatever reason, decide not to land at Diospi he would not really have many other good options, since, if he then landed somewhere in Curahuasi the President could really be in danger. No one wants that the President has to plough his way through masses of cars and people, among whom strikers would most probably be lurking. With a deafening noise the helicopter touches down. Test successful. In the middle of last night Oebele de Haan had chopped down the tops of the trees surrounding the helipad. A ray of hope breaks into our situation.
“Dr Klaus, address the people in the amphitheatre,” is the next order I receive from the Head of Security, “Emphasise that your anniversary today is a religious and not a political event!” The band is just playing some soothing music. Between two songs I emphatically address the crowd. I smile to myself when I realise that I am speaking to an audience of about 1,000 or perhaps even 1,500. Perhaps we won’t have to endure the embarrassment of an empty amphitheatre after all.
Suddenly I spot the CEO of the football club “Alianza Lima”, in Peru the equivalent of Bayern Munich. He has brought a football star with him and within a few minutes Agustin Landeras, a top goal-scorer, is being interviewed on stage.
My mobile rings. Dr Schmidt, the ambassador of the German Embassy and the Honorary Consul Maria Jürgens from Cusco are being prevented by the police to reach the venue. I rush to the Hospital’s entrance, speak to the policemen and the two guests can complete the final metres of their journey. Another problem solved.
“You and your wife should get ready at once,” I hear a familiar voice calling. “The helicopters are already on their way. You will be greeting the President and the ministers in a few moments!” I can hardly believe what I have just heard. “Tina, where is Jens?” I call. “We are about to start!“