Tuesday, May 20, 2014

About Definitions

Maribel proof-reads every post I write. Often she will point out a technicality…usually a matter of minor detail that makes what I’ve written not completely accurate. My response is that the general reader does not need to know the nitty-gritty and in spelling out every detail it will only needlessly lengthen the post and perhaps confuse the reader. Still… I occasionally get emails and Maribel gets phone calls from Peruvian readers who assume I’m not completely familiar with the subject matter (they’re right) and offer corrections. I admit that often I use one term/word interchangeably to simplify things. The following are some examples.

If I were to say, ‘the police were on the scene’ I think that presents the image I’m trying to convey.  Technically I could differentiate by saying the national police were on the scene. All official police officers are part of the national police force. I could also say that Serenazgo was on the scene. The men of Serenazgo are armed; wear uniforms, drive patrol vehicles and to all intents and purposes perform many of the duties of the national police but they are not police officers. They are hired by the city to guard and protect people and property. Usually the two forces cooperate but occasionally there can be friction as happened a couple of years ago in Chiclayo when the national government in Lima accused Chiclayo’s mayor of non-cooperation. I could stretch the definition of police even further and say that SS was on the scene. SS is a private security firm and is contracted by many private and public institutions here in Chiclayo to provide security. They are recognized by their distinctive yellow shirt, brown pants and boots uniform. In some cases they are armed. They guard a specific building/location but also are a general deterrent and will take action if a near-by situation calls for it. Lastly there is the neighborhood vigilante. This is a guy who is paid by neighborhood people to guard their homes and cars. He patrols the neighborhood while often blowing a whistle to announce his presence. Vigilantes do not get involved in confrontational situations, other than blowing their whistle and contacting police. In other words, even though they may be ‘on the scene’ don’t expect these guys to help you if you’re being robbed or assaulted.  

Another area I receive correction in is my use of governmental terms, particularly as it refers to the educational system. Let’s start at the top. All national schools, from kinder to university are under the auspices of the Ministerio de Educacion located in Lima. Often I write that a school is supported by the regional government though that may not be the case. All or some of the support could be coming from the Ministerio de Educacion (Ministry of Education); the Direccion Regional de Educacion (Regional Direction of Education) located in the capital of a region, or the Oficina de Cultura y Educacion de la Municipalidad (office of Culture and Education in whatever municipality). For example, the village of San Miguel is in the municipality of the city of Picsi, which is in the Region of Lambayeque, which is under the auspices of the Ministry of Education in Lima. Pronoei capullitos - the kinder schools that are not officially recognized by the Ministry of Education in Lima are funded from a contingency fund from the office of Culture and Education in the municipality.

Let me finish this with one more example. I often use the words ‘caserio’ and ‘village’ interchangeably. There isn’t that much difference between them. A caserio is smaller; usually a lot smaller and poorer. We spell out the difference between the two on the home page of the Promesa Peru webpage. I usually write ‘village’ because first-time readers won’t know what a caserio is, and regular readers may have forgotten.

So…for our non-Peruvian readers I’ve probably bored you to death with this post or given you information you didn’t need to know. To our Peruvian readers, I do appreciate your comments and criticisms. I will never know as much about Peru as you do and I welcome your input.

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