Uproar In The Peruvian Andes

The first flight gets me from Lima into Cusco at 5:40am. Across the mountains it will take me another two hours to get to Curahuasi. But there is an unexpected problem. A “paro” (strike) organized by the mountain farmers brings all traffic to a halt.

Nevertheless, we head West with a brave driver at around 8am. We reach the first road block after about 20 km (photo 1). Hundreds of rocks and a good amount strike pickets force us to stop. The police arrives. Passionate words and gestures are exchanged. The people are bitter; an increase in transportation prices effects their costs of living. This frustration led them to close off the main roads of Southern Peru.

After 40 minutes, the police succeed in peacefully dissolving the blockade. For a while, we continue on our way to Curahuasi. The driver seems to be a slalom specialist – every 100 meters the lanes are blocked by rocks.

Eventually, we can’t go on. Hundreds of “campesinos”, many of them under the influence, are blocking a number of intersections (photo 2). Due to the chanting and screaming no discussion can take place. The police are helpless as well. The lines get longer and longer (photo 3&4). Hours pass.

Finally there is hope. As the police bring reinforcements the will of the strikers is broken. Five hours later than originally planned, I reach my destination.

Klaus-Dieter John

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