With my recce trip almost over, I thought I’d post a random compilation of Peruvian people and places we’ve had the pleasure of bumping into over the last ten days. It’s been a whistle stop tour, and an explosion of colour, cultures, chaos and climates. From the humidity of Lima, to the arid desert of Ica, to the cool mountain air in the Sierra region, I’ve felt nothing but warmth from the locals, and gained a real insight into the destructive impacts of extractive industries through their stories.
Today we returned from Ica where we interviewed David Bayer (water expert and sociologist), who gave us a digestible version of the complex entwined issues surrounding water, mining, poverty and politics. David has lived in Ica on and off for over 45 years, and is presently working with local groups to address the water shortages in the region. Formerly a deputy executive officer for USAID, David has been outspoken about the negative impacts of the Peruvian-US Free Trade Agreement, claiming mining companies and other multinationals see special tax breaks and other privileges, leaving them free to continue with their social and environmental disruption. David talked about the issues form a water perspective - from the gross underestimation of the amounts used by extractive industries (often obtained at source, and heavily polluted to run downstream), to his more local concerns of a valley running out of water, yet surrounded by agro-exporters planting ‘water heavy’ crops like asparagus and grapes.
My last day will be spent in Lima, where I’ll be interviewing a spokesperson for the group CONACAMI, who train local leaders how to organize communities to advocate for their rights, as well as resolve conflicts surrounding mining, and generally stand up for their rights.