Tag Archives: human rights

Human Trafficking is a New Crime for Peruvian Justice

I came to Peru to study how the illegal mining for gold in Madre de Dios province, on the Peruvian border with Brazil and Bolivia, has increased prostitution and human trafficking. The weak presence of the state, combined with the opening of the Interoceánica highway, the growth of illegal mining for gold, the trafficking of goods (arms, drugs) and people, and a high rate of population increase have resulted on severe social, cultural and environmental effects in the area.

Yori-Peru-Madre de Dios

According to a research conducted by INFOS Peru, for every new illegal mining camp in MDD, 45 “prostibares” (brothels) open, and between 2004 and 2011 there were close to 1.700 denounces of human trade in the area (RETA). In MDD, the illegal mining camps have grown keeping pace with brothels.

Despite the core of my research was in Madre de Dios, my fieldwork started in Lima. Before going to the field, I needed to have a bigger picture on how human trafficking for sexual exploitation was understood by the Peruvian state. I interviewed Ricardo Valdés, from Capital Humano y Social Alternativo, an NGO specialized in human trafficking.

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Yuyanapaq: To Remember Peru’s Violent Past

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(Photos taken with permission at Yuyanapaq; collage original)

I recently began my summer fieldwork in Lima, Peru, where I visited the photo exhibit Yuyanapaq, or “To Remember” in Quechua. Created by Peru’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in 2003, the exhibit is a compilation of photographs that document the impact of political violence on the Peruvian population in the 1980s and 1990s. It groups violent events geographically and categorically, portraying the aftermath of bombings, murders, and attacks by the Peruvian military, the Maoist group the Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso), and the other communist armed group the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA). Yuyanapaq is impressive not only in that it does not shy away from exposing the realities of violence, but in that attracts a wide range of Peruvian visitors who, upon being reminded of the country’s violent period, will hopefully work to prevent it from recurring.

The photos evoke Peru’s violent past, even showing physical harm done to the war’s victims. Multiple images show dead and mutilated bodies. They capture inadvertent looks of shock and awe from survivors and first responders, and the utter anguish of family members as they look over the corpses of their loved ones. The only thing that I can think to compare the exhibit to in the United States is a miniature version of the Holocaust Museum. Yet whereas in the Holocaust it was easy to place the blame on the Nazis, and even on one clear, specific perpetrator, in Peru political violence and human rights abuses were committed by both the state military and leftist armed groups such as the Shining Path. How might the moral ambiguity that this type of conflict generates help us better understand the nature of violence? Were all those who committed violent acts in the context of Peru’s war “bad people” at heart, no matter what side they were on? If not, then what pushes otherwise decent people to commit such horrific acts?

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Grupo Cultural Yuyachkani: Creación colectiva y memoria colectiva

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Casa de Yuyachkani: Calle Tacna 363, Magdalena del Mar – Lima 17, Perú

La casa del Grupo Cultural Yuyachkani – o “los Yuyas” como el tiempo y el cariño les ha dado como nombre – se encuentra en el antiguo distrito de Magdalena, cerca del mar limeño. Desde esta casona republicana han salido y a esta casa han ingresado los materiales humanos y culturales que alimentan una historia grupal de más de 40 años. Los integrantes del grupo – Augusto Casafranca, Amiel Cayo, Ana Correa, Débora Correa, Rebeca Ralli, Teresa Ralli, Julián Vargas, y su director, Miguel Rubio Zapata – descubrieron muy pronto que, para hacer un teatro en diálogo honesto con la historia política y social peruana, tenían que sondear en un pasado compartido, participar activamente en un presente fragmentado, y construir juntos un futuro abierto a la inclusión. En estas coordenadas temporales en constante flujo, sus cuerpos y sus voces fueron la materia prima que le permitió a Yuyachkani adentrarse individual y colectivamente en un viaje que se ha nutrido de memoria y que, a la vez, ha producido un espacio en donde ahora residen partes vitales de la memoria colectiva peruana. Continue reading

Teatro La Candelaria: la creación colectiva como proyecto estético-político

Entre las decenas de salas teatrales que alberga el barrio de La Candelaria, en el centro histórico de la ciudad de Bogotá, una de las que condensa más de cuatro décadas de historia es la casona del Teatro La Candelaria. Este grupo fue fundado en 1966 por un grupo de artistas e intelectuales que buscaban nuevas líneas de experimentación teatral y de práctica política. De más está decir el lujo que representa haber tenido la oportunidad de visitar este espacio, y de entrevistar a actrices y actores que hoy en día no solo son admirables por su maestría como artistas, sino que encarnan en sí mismos una tradición teatral. Patricia Ariza, Nohora Ayala, César “Coco” Badillo y Francisco “Pachito” Martínez tuvieron la generosidad de conversar conmigo sobre la historia del Teatro La Candelaria, su propuesta estética y su compromiso político.

Robles-Moreno - Colombia y Perú - casona

La casona del Teatro La Candelaria

Patricia Ariza recuerda la conciencia que siempre tuvo el grupo del carácter fundacional del trabajo que estaban haciendo: el Maestro Santiago García, fundador y director del Teatro La Candelaria, columna y guía de sus proyectos, tomó el riesgo de retirarse de la Universidad Nacional y empezar una empresa quijotesca que no se ha detenido hasta el día de hoy. Desde sus inicios, La Candelaria ha promovido un diálogo entre artistas, sindicatos de trabajadores, ciudadanos en situación de desplazamiento y el movimiento estudiantil. De estas conversaciones surgió un nuevo público teatral, que exigía obras propias, que hablaran de lo que pasaba en Colombia. Patricia Ariza explica el paso de una dramaturgia de autor a procesos de creación colectiva, en los que la puesta en escena nace de la colaboración entre todos los miembros del grupo; frente a un darse cuenta de que “nosotros somos dramaturgos también”, el camino hacia una nueva forma de hacer teatro se empieza a definir. Desde entonces, La Candelaria emprende sistemáticamente la creación de obras originales de dramaturgia nacional con el método de creación colectiva.
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La Crisis: Economy and Racism in Spain

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“Unite Against Racism” banner displayed during the 2012 Euro Cup

Not only is Spain facing an economic crisis but the people here are expressing angst and frustration towards the government for its incompetence to aid its people.  The current Prime Minister of Spain, Mariano Rajoy Brey, was sworn into office this past December.  While he has only been in office for 8 months, he has not been popular among the people, especially the immigrant community.  One Ecuadorian immigrant expressed that the former Prime Minister worked to get immigrants documented and legalized, while “Rajoy is racist and doesn’t do anything” for them.

Much has been speculated about the correlation between the growing economic crisis in Spain and the racism and xenophobia directed towards immigrants.  It has been argued that the tension caused by “la crisis,” as the locals call it, has only intensified fears of job loss, which could then cause Spaniards to resent those who could potentially take jobs away from Spanish citizens. Continue reading

Understanding “la colectividad boliviana” in Buenos Aires Within a Greater/Global Context

Benedict Anderson, best known as the author of Imagined Communities,  asserts that newspapers can provide the “technical means for ‘re-presenting’ the kind of imagined community” that an immigrant community has created – in terms of my project, that the Bolivian community has created in Buenos Aires. Therefore, one of the facets of my research is to analyze the newspapers that are created for and by the Bolivian community to determine how they cover and describe sports. However, as most things tend to happen, this hasn’t gone exactly how I had planned. (Foreshadowing: it’s been better!)

First, I came to Buenos Aires with a list of about six Bolivian newspapers that I had found by scouring the web for mentions of them (as many don’t have an online presence). Upon arriving and speaking with Dr. Manuel Cervantes, he informed me that all but two of them were out of business. Luckily, he just so happened to be on the editorial board of one of those two (funny how these connections work!) so he set me up with a meeting with another editor. A few days before that interview, I googled Bolivia Unida and came up with not only their website, but their facebook page. The most recent post immediately caught my attention – there was going to be an academic conference at the Universidad Nacional de San Martin entitled “Seminar about Migrations, Cultural Identity, and Human Rights: The Actuality of Immigrants in Argentina.” Oh hey! That’s precisely what I’m looking at! I scrambled to fill out the registration form (this is around 11pm on Wednesday night, and the conference was on Friday) and prepared myself for my first international conference.

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Searching in Buenos Aires: a Story from the Field on Hunting for Contacts, Answers, and Conclusions

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Ready for a bus ride across town.

Last year’s Tinker grant recipients stressed the importance of persistence while in the field. For the most part, I’ve been getting in touch with exactly the contacts I’d been hoping to find, but some people have been more difficult to track down. What really brought me to my research question, whether or not Asignacion Universal por Hijo empowers women, was an annual report put out by a private organization indicating that deaths from domestic violence are on the rise in Argentina. I wondered if this had any connection to the implementation of AUH, so I come to Buenos Aires with high hopes of meeting with the director of the organization. She was quite difficult to hunt down, but when I finally did get to meet with her, she shared some great information with me. Persistence in the field really does pay off! 

When I first arrived in Buenos Aires, I got in touch with a woman named Majo who has a great network of people working on social programs and women’s rights in the local area. Majo has been an incredible help in getting me directly connected with all the right people. I had tried calling and emailing the research organization several times with no response. Majo had not been able to get in touch with anyone at the center either, so she suggested that I accompany her to her weekly meeting the last two Wednesdays. Every week, the Buenos Aires Legislature hosts a meeting of approximately 35 women’s rights-based organizations where these groups can collaborate, plan events and awareness campaigns, and all stay in touch about developments in women’s rights in Argentina. Majo said that the founder of the research organization attended this weekly meeting, so I was excited to finally have an in. Continue reading