Friday, March 11, 2016

Just Some Musings

Depending where you live in Peru, El Niño is/was either a major problem or a non-event. Piura 120 miles north, Trujillo 110 miles south and Cajamarca 95 miles east are/were experiencing heavy rains, with accompanying flooding in Piura and Trujillo. Southern Peru has seen the most flooding. Chiclayo has had exactly one heavy downpour with minor flooding that was gone by the end of the day. It may be that the extreme temperatures Chiclayo and other coastal cities are experiencing is an affect of El Niño. There was a lot of money and effort dedicated by the Peruvian government to prevent flooding all up and down the coast. It will probably be that those precautions were not needed, but I know of no one who feels the money was wasted.

Speaking of Peruvian government, the April elections are getting close. This is what the polls looked like in January. Things have changed these last two months. Acuña has dropped out…the election commission barred him from running because he was suspected of plagiarizing his university master’s thesis. He wouldn’t have made it anyway. Guzman has also been barred from running because of ‘irregularities in his selection by his political party.’ Guzman was an up and coming candidate, almost overnight jumping to 2nd place with an 18% rating. He struck a note with young people, particularly university students. He has had two appeals rejected by the election commission but is still campaigning.

This is what the latest poll looks like. I had never heard of Barnechea until last week. I have no idea when he entered the race. Kuszynski is hanging tough but most folks feel he’s too old (77). The surprise for me continues to be Keiko. In all my travels in Peru, I have yet to meet anyone who supports her. Many people feel bitterly toward her father Alberto who is a past president and is presently in prison. Last night in Cuzco she was forced to stop her campaign speech and leave the stage for her safety because 600 demonstrators were heckling and throwing eggs at the stage. So where is that 37% approval coming from? Pundits say that women and the poor favor her, which seems strange because her father was charged with forced sterilization of thousands of women and the ruthless deaths of thousands of poor villagers during his program to wipe out the Shining Path rebels. If Keiko does not win a majority, there will be a run-off election, probably between her and Kuszynski. Interesting times are coming.

Owning property and renting it out has its risks in Peru. You need to be very sure of whom you’re renting to before signing the contract.  Courts here are very reluctant to issue eviction orders. If an owner requests a renter to leave, by law that renter has three rent-free months to vacate, and often the process drags out longer than that. When an eviction order is issued it can be spectacular. This is what one looked like in our neighborhood this morning. A couple of police trucks and a dozen motorcycles screeched to a stop two doors down. By actual count there were 22 police directly involved, and five motorcycle cops blocking traffic on each end of the block. We assumed this was a narcotics raid or something of similar importance. The door was literally rammed open and officers rushed into the house only to find it empty. The guy had moved yesterday. We said goodbye to him while he was loading his truck, not aware of any problem. I wonder what they would have done to him if he had been there. The word ‘overkill’ comes to mind.


It was one of those things that for some reason resonates with the funny bone. We were walking in the El Quinde Mall in Cajamarca, mostly to get out of the rain when we saw this sign indicating restroom locations. We sat at a nearby table and started chuckling. We both said we needed a photo.   I didn’t know what we’d do with it, but this seems like a good place.

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