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Peru: The earthquake And The vultures

By Hugo Blanco

21 August, 2007

In the earthquake of 1950 in Cuzco, I collaborated as a volunteer as part of the system of aid that had been established: my task was to register those who had lost their homes and their necessities. At first we were received with affection, yet the more we advanced in our work, the more the hostility increased. The people would burst out saying "You have registered us 10 times and yet we have received nothing!"

This was true, national and international aid was being eaten up by the vultures of the official bureaucracy.

When the earthquake hit Ancash in 1977, being in prison at the time, I found out that the same thing had occurred.

Now, it seems that the same thing is occurring, the vultures of the official bureaucracy are fattening themselves off the pain of the victims, rejoicing about the large amounts of national and international aid that is arriving.

The toll from the last earthquake, on top of the 500 dead and more than 1.500 thousand injured: 45,000 houses affected; 250,000 left homeless.

Firstly, I would like to point out that it is not true that natural disasters affect both rich and poor equally. The rich do not live in precarious housing made of adobe, which were the ones that collapsed. The rich have enough money to leave the zone and have somewhere to go.

It is the poor population from the affected zones, along with those from the isolated hamlets, who are the ones who are suffering without housing, without water, without electricity, with dead people to bury, with unattended injured, without money to buy food whose prices have increased tenfold.

It is true that they have received the promise of the president of the republic that "no one will die of hunger!", but as we know, in all aspects, Alan Garcia continues with his electoral campaign promises that have not been implemented. Three days after the earthquake, despite the large amount of aid that is coming from the within the country and outside, the majority of the people continue without having received anything.

The victims, desperate because of the cries of hunger and thirst of their children, have begun to loot warehouses responsible for the quadrupled prices of products, and vehicles that pass by, brimming with food in front of the eyes of the hunger ones.

We can see in an image published on the front page of "El Comercio" of Lima, a father with five fish taken out of a truck belonging to a large company, with the newspaper pronouncing his efforts to feed his children as "unjustifiable".

The police officers in charge of "guarding order" in many opportunities do not intervene. On other occasions, they truly "guarded order", organising the handing out of products that they themselves distribute. We send them our warmest greetings, we know just as well as they do that they will be punished by there superiors, we admire the flourishing of human solidarity in there hearts.

Rather than speeding up the handing over of aid, the measure the government has taken has been to send repressive forces to avoid attacks against trucks belonging to companies which transport food.

We recommend to those who are donating that they directly watch over the destiny of their donations. Those who can utilise the route of some NGOs should do so, in general they are guaranteed routes. What is certain is that the governmental route is full of vultures who will devour the large part of the aid.

In passing, we should mention that the services of the telephone company, whose servant is the government of Alan Garcia, and which collapsed in a criminal formation after the earthquake, naturally remains unpunished.

Hugo Blanco :Historic leader of the revolutionary left and the Campesino Confederation of Peru (CCP).

Translated by Federico Fuentes, Green Left Weekly


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