Recently, the difference between Peru and the US was was very obvious
yet once again. Peru hosted the Apec (Asian Pacific Economic
Cooperation) summit here in Lima. Now it is a big event, many world
leaders were here from 21 countries - even President Bush and
Chairman Hu from China. But the different and surprising part was the
security. In order to try to keep order , the Federal government declared the whole four days - Thursday through Sunday a holiday. All schools were closed, banks were closed, factories were
closed - only small casual businesses were allowed to be open - outside of downtown. And in
the central City and surrounding areas many of the important streets
Of course kids loved a 4-day weekend (and out here in the in the beach
town of San Bartolo, the partiers came by the hundred - and a few were
sober at times). It was hard on regular folks because, they just lost
4 days pay, I had to reschedule a Dr. appt, because the clinic was
closed. Only emergency services were available. I saw news shots of
the normally ultra-crowded streets of Lima, but they were blocked off
by police and/or the army and ghost-town vacant, paper-blowing-down-the-street vacant.
You see the difference - in New York, the United Nations meets all the
time and it is business as usual, international summits come and go - only the protesters and hotel/restaurant folks know, but here, we have a four day summit
of a few countries and we have to go into a practical lockdown.
They did this for 2 reasons. One was broadcast and kinda true - to
increase security for the leaders and one reason was on the quiet and
shushed up, but sadly true - the leaders here didn't want the world to see
just how poor Lima (and indeed all Peru ) really is. They wanted to hide the poor folk scrambling to make a living by selling stuff on the streets, the ill-dressed hordes working their 12 hour days for $6 a day, the scads of homeless and crazies that just wander the streets - often naked. They didn't want the world to see the real Peru. There isn't really One World.
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