El Centro

11 11 2008

The centre of Lima holds many government buildings, churches, cathedrals and museums which are amongst the most old and beautiful in the city. It clusters around two main squares, the Plaza de Armas and Plaza San Martin.

One one side of the Plaza de Armas is the Presidential Palace. The Palace is guarded by an array of armed forces from police men with assault rifles to large armoured cars.

Pres. Ally Garcia's bit

El Presidente Ally Garcia's bit

Every time I have visited the centre there has been a parade of some form. People in vibrant costumes, singing dancing or playing a swinging Latin American marching rhythm on an arrangement of brass instruments. Such parades seem to have a certain element of appeasement to them, to reinforce the glorious image of the Peruvian republic upon people. Much the same, I believe, can be said of the grandiose buildings, plazas and parks of the centre that are upkept to an overwhelming degree more than the vast majority of the city’s infrastructure.

In fact, come to think of it, Peruvian nationalism is very much used by the government to coat over many of the country’s problems. People’s attention is diverted away from the troubling life that so many people here lead by  When I first arrived here I was struck by the devout patriotism displayed at the Independence Day Parade (my first ever given that my own country is not independent) with Peruvian flags being handed out everywhere and regiments of the Peruvian army parading down the street.

The journalism in Peru could also be an indication of this. A prime example is the governments own news agency Andina which glosses over and avoidsmany negative stories whilst blowing what may only be temporary or slight positive data out of all context and proportion: Peru is great, trust your government, your life is good, there are no problems.

One glance at some of the poorer areas that cover the hills rising on the outskirts of Lima show that everything here is not really all well and good. In reality, it feels like problems with poverty can never be solved as the government simply does not have enough money. So politicians are forced to lie and say everything’s ok just to stay in power and earn their salaries. Behind closed doors they care only about their own wallets.

For people who do indeed live a comfortable life, this is an easy pill to swallow. For the vast majority of others, not so much.

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