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Peru Telegraph
Peru Telegraph is the independent and unbiased Peru news platform
Peru Telegraph is the independent and unbiased Peru news platform

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Racism, discrimination and intolerance in Peru

A critical reflection on the signing of yet another convention against racism, discrimination and intolerance

Two days ago, Peru signed two Interamerican Conventions against racism and discrimination at the headquarters of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington DC. Ana Rosa Valdivieso, the Peruvian Ambassador to the OAS, announced that she is pleased to have the opportunity to sign these conventions as “the fight against discrimination and the protection of the most vulnerable populations are unescapable commitments” of Peru. And even the OAS Secretary-General Luis Almagro pointed out that the country demonstrated its commitment to fight racism, discrimination and intolerance. Well, really?

Peruvian laws protect all citizens from racism and discrimination

At first glance, yes. Peru has numerous laws in place to protect its citizens (children, women, seniors, indigenous people, persons with disabilities, LGBT persons, actually everyone) from all sorts of discrimination and racism. To begin with, article 2.2 of the Peruvian Constitution clearly stipulates: “Every person has the right to equality before the law. No person shall be discriminated against on the basis of origin, race, sex, language, opinion, economic status, or any other distinguishing feature”. There are many other laws, acts, annexes and amendments against racism, discrimination and intolerance in Peru. Politicians hunting for votes and NGOs have a field day with this subject. So, to cut a long story short Peru has an extensive legal framework in favor of equality and non-discrimination towards its citizens – but honestly only on paper. The reality takes much getting used to and might be even shocking, especially for liberal and open-minded foreigners.

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An editor’s view of Lima the capital of Peru

Lima today is no longer the wealthy, beautiful colonial settlement and most important city in the Americas like it used to be during colonial times; or the lovely capital of independent Peru with nice haciendas, fishing villages and lots of green surrounding it. Today Lima with its close to 9 million inhabitants, shantytowns and sometimes tatty facades isn't attractive or seems to be inviting to its visitors.

Arriving at the Lima International Airport with crowds of people offering taxi and hotel services and finally the ride to your hotel through Lima's chaotic traffic can be quite shocking or even scary, especially for those who heard good meant warnings about general safety and security in Peru's capital.

But Lima's first appearance to its visitors is deceptive. Lima is one of the most interesting and challenging cities in South America with a huge archaeological, historical and cultural past. Most of its treasures might be well hidden, but are worth being discovered. For many visitors Lima is just an unavoidable must; a sprawling, chaotic, dirty and ugly metropolis, the starting and ending point on their trip to more interesting and exciting gems Peru has to offer. But this assumption doesn't do justice to Lima.

Lima's decline

From the middle of the 20th century onward Lima had to cope with serious problems. Political and economic instability in Peru increased the overall poverty. Thousands of migrants from the Peruvian countryside came to the capital looking for work and a better life, building their homes in ever growing slums that soon surrounded the city. Lima hit rock bottom in the early 1990s when even more people, fleeing the terror and poverty in the Andean highlands and jungle, flocked into Lima, just to find more terror, chaos and poverty. At this time there was nothing positive to say about Lima.

But after many years of deterioration Lima began to recover with the beginning of the new millennium. Numerous years of hard work, from the municipality and its inhabitants, have turned some 'barrios' (shantytowns) into more or less pleasant districts, others stayed unbelievable poor without proper infrastructure. Here the city tried at least to improve living conditions, built hospitals, new schools and sporting areas. By far not enough, but at least a beginning.

Read the full story here:

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