Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The World Comes to Peru

Recently, the difference between Peru and the US was was very obvious
yet once again. Peru hosted the Apec (Asian Pacific Economic
Cooperation) summit here in Lima. Now it is a big event, many world
leaders were here from 21 countries - even President Bush and
Chairman Hu from China. But the different and surprising part was the
security. In order to try to keep order , the Federal government declared the whole four days - Thursday through Sunday a holiday. All schools were closed, banks were closed, factories were
closed - only small casual businesses were allowed to be open - outside of downtown. And in
the central City and surrounding areas many of the important streets
were closed.
Of course kids loved a 4-day weekend (and out here in the in the beach
town of San Bartolo, the partiers came by the hundred - and a few were
sober at times). It was hard on regular folks because, they just lost
4 days pay, I had to reschedule a Dr. appt, because the clinic was
closed. Only emergency services were available. I saw news shots of
the normally ultra-crowded streets of Lima, but they were blocked off
by police and/or the army and ghost-town vacant, paper-blowing-down-the-street vacant.
You see the difference - in New York, the United Nations meets all the
time and it is business as usual, international summits come and go - only the protesters and hotel/restaurant folks know, but here, we have a four day summit
of a few countries and we have to go into a practical lockdown.
They did this for 2 reasons. One was broadcast and kinda true - to
increase security for the leaders and one reason was on the quiet and
shushed up, but sadly true - the leaders here didn't want the world to see
just how poor Lima (and indeed all Peru ) really is. They wanted to hide the poor folk scrambling to make a living by selling stuff on the streets, the ill-dressed hordes working their 12 hour days for $6 a day, the scads of homeless and crazies that just wander the streets - often naked. They didn't want the world to see the real Peru. There isn't really One World.