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Memorial project in Peru courts controversy

Published in Deutsche Welle on 20 July 2017

A dilapidated concrete structure stands in the middle of the field in Ayacucho, around 570 kilometers southeast of the capital Lima. This is where the gasoline was kept, Juana Carrión tells DW. In front of it, overgrown by weeds, are the stone ruins of what used to be three ovens. This is where bodies were burned; forensic archaeologists found the charred remains of bones. The rest of the field is a mass grave called La Hoyada. The contours of the squares in which the archaeologists made their last excavations in 2014 are still visible under the weeds. The remains of an estimated 110 people were found.

During the civil war, between 1980 and 2000, this area was used as a training ground for the army, which still has its base up on the hill. It became a so-called death camp where the army would take the people suspected of being part of the Shining Path guerrilla group.

Read on in DW

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Out of prison, but stuck in Peru

Published on Deutsche Welle on 11 June 2017

When he came out of Ancón prison in March, Italian-born Davide Cannavo, 33, was lucky enough to have Peruvian friends of his family who picked him up and provided a place to stay. Many foreigners stand lost in front of the prison gates, in a deserted area on the outskirts of the capital. However, Cannavo’s acquaintances couldn’t bring him to the airport; after spending almost seven years in prison for attempting to smuggle cocaine out of the country, he wasn’t free to leave the country yet.

Foreign ex-convicts have to go through a bureaucratic process in Peru which takes, on average, around 8 months to complete. They need to get their reparation and rehabilitation documents, which take time to complete and, furthermore, need to be paid for. These documents then have to be approved by the police and migration ministry for foreign ex-convicts to leave the country. It’s a difficult process for foreigners.

Read on in DW

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In Peru, sexual equality is a controversial issue

Published in Deutsche Welle on 20 May 2017

IQUITOS, Peru – Even before she sits down, Milagros Rios starts to weep. She takes some tissues from the box on her desk to dry her eyes. In front of her lies the new school curriculum manual, which the Peruvian government sent out to all schools at the beginning of the new academic year. To her left, up on the wall, hangs an image of Jesus on the cross.

“How can I teach this to the children?” she asks. For a while she sobs silently. The new school curriculum states that men and women should have the same rights and should be treated equally. It is founded in the idea that everyone should be respected in their sexual choices. It was meant to enforce women who are often still pushed into the traditional work of cleaning the house and cooking.

Read on via DW

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Hampered by lack of resources, Peruvian officials struggle to address illegal wildlife trade

Published in Earth Island Journal on 15 May 2017

TARAPOTO, Peru – On first sight, as we wait by the river for a ferry, there appear to be only a few rickety stalls where banana chips and cans of soda are sold to Peruvian tourists waiting in their cars to cross. But as soon as the vendors have determined the coast is clear, the scene quickly changes: two snakes are pulled out of a frayed rucksack. Three monkeys are removed from a cardboard box beneath a counter. A child walks past the line of cars, showing off a woolly monkey. All of these animals are for sale.

The illegal trade and imprisonment of exotic animals is not always visible in Peru. Many local people have learned that Westerners don’t usually like seeing monkeys and sloths bound and chained up. The animals, therefore, are not always shown to Western tourists. However, anyone inquiring at a market about a particular animal species is led through the corrugated-iron shacks to someone who has that animal.

Read on in the online magazine

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Connecting Iquitos: Building a road through the Amazon

Published in Al Jazeera on 15 May 2017

Iquitos, Peru – Late afternoon is the busiest time in the muddy harbour of Iquitos in the Amazon basin, in the northeast of Peru. Men haul stacks of bottled soda and kilos of rice on their backs, motorcycle taxis load passengers and their luggage, and an old man strolls around selling hammocks, which boat passengers use to sleep in.

Travelling by cargo boat is the most economical way to move around the Amazon region. The boats travel along rivers lined with communities.  Iquitos is a city of almost half a million inhabitants that flourished during the rubber boom of the late 19th century.

But today, parts of the historical centre are abandoned: buildings have collapsed, leaving only their facades, while the land is slowly being reclaimed by the jungle. Many of the older buildings that remain intact have been turned into casinos or supermarkets.

Read on via Al Jazeera

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Living alongside the wall of shame

Published in Deutsche Welle on 10th of May 2017

LIMA, Peru – With a sense of pride, Claudia Luna relates how she and many other migrants managed to stay, even though the police repeatedly came on horses to chase them away. “All these hills were empty when we came,” Luna told DW. “Now, bit by bit, we are getting there. Despite the police burning down everything. For us, this is the only way to have a roof above our heads.”

What started with a few tents alongside the hill, turned into small houses made of wood and corrugated iron. Concrete stairs were built and electricity wires pulled up. In time, the houses will be rebuilt using bricks, and this new part of the city will eventually be connected to the water system.

Read on in DW