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

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

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

Los-vast in Lima

Gepubliceerd in De Nieuwe Revu, op 29 maart 2017

Nederlandse ex-gedetineerden zitten nog maanden vast in Peru voordat zij het land uit mogen, in afwachting van een uitreisdocument. In die tijd kunnen zij niet legaal werken of studeren, waardoor het geregeld voorkomt dat zij in parkjes slapen en terug de criminaliteit in gaan.

LIMA, Peru – Na vijf jaar staat hij buiten. Voor de poort van de gevangenis Ancón. Het is zondagochtend en zoals vrijwel altijd in Lima is de lucht grijs. Michel van der Knaap had vastgezeten voor een poging per vliegtuig cocaïne naar Nederland te smokkelen. Hij kijkt uit over een stoffige zandweg en houten huisjes met golfplaten daken. Duizend sol – zo’n driehonderd euro – heeft hij op zak, verder helemaal niets. Peru kent hij niet, Spaans spreekt hij amper.

Online te lezen via Blendle

Bolivia twijfelt over Evo Morales

Gepubliceerd in Het Parool op 25 februari

LA PAZ, Bolivia – ‘Un, dos, tres. Evo otra vez,’ klinkt het uit honderden kelen over het plein. Vanaf een podium wordt de mensenmassa gemaand om mee te zingen. Eén, twee, drie! Evo nog een keer! Het gaat om de Boliviaanse president Evo Morales, die het land al elf jaar leidt en daar het liefste nog lange tijd mee door zou gaan. De benoeming van de eerste inheemse president van Bolivia, in 2006, had een sterk symbolische waarde voor de inheemse bevolking: voor het eerst werd de macht van de afstammelingen van de Spaanse kolonisten doorbroken. Maar intussen zijn de meningen verdeeld.

‘We moeten verder met onze president, want er is niemand anders,’ zegt de 50-jarige Dillia Waicho. In de traditionele kleding van bolhoed en rok is ze naar de protesten gekomen om haar steun voor Morales uit te spreken. ‘Hij erkent onze broeders van het platteland en heeft het leven voor hen beter gemaakt. Zo’n krachtig persoon heeft de oppositie niet te bieden.’

Lees verder via Blendle

The Road That Exposed Peru’s Amazon

Driving out from Cusco, Peru, the Interoceanic Highway swirls a few hours over the Andes highlands before it plummets down into the jungle. The change in the surroundings is impressive: rocky hills with low-lying scrubs make way for lush vegetation and waterfalls along steep cliffs. In this green, pristine landscape, some farmers try to eke out a living on inclined farmlands, growing corn and cassava.

The next big landscape change comes the moment I have fully descended, some 10,000 feet from where we began, and arrive close to a little town called Mazuco. There I find myself in the midst of a swampy area, full of muddy water and plastic waste, where twisted formations of dead trees are a reminder of the forest this once was. This is gold mining territory, and mining, rife with detrimental impacts for the environment, has been made easier by the road I just travelled.

Read on via Earth Island Journal

Protests over Morales expose division among Bolivians

La Paz, Bolivia – Waving a big Bolivian flag on a wooden stick, 59-year-old Blanca Penaranda walks in front of thousands of people towards the Plaza San Francisco, the main square in the Bolivian capital, La Paz. More people join the protest from other streets, shouting: “No means no!”

Protestors took to the streets on Tuesday, exactly one year after Bolivia held a referendum on changing the constitution to enable President Evo Morales to seek a fourth re-election.

The “No” vote won by a small margin, a decision that prevents Morales from running in the 2019 elections. Later last year, however, the Movement for Socialism (MAS), the party led by Morales, announced they were considering putting him forward for candidacy again anyway. The ruling party are pursuing legal loopholes that allow Morales to run again.

Read on via Al Jazeera English

De Uros raken in het nauw

Gepubliceerd in  De Trouw op 16 januari 2017

Voor de Inca’s was het Titicacameer wat de oerknal is voor wetenschappers: volgens hen ontstond vanuit hier het universum. De zon, de maan en de sterren werden vanuit het water de hemel in geslingerd. Ook de mens zelf stond op uit dit meer, in de vorm van Manco Capac en Mama Ocllo. Sindsdien heeft de mens altijd op en rondom het meer geleefd. Het bekendste voorbeeld daarvan zijn de Uros, het indianenvolk dat in huizen van riet op drijvende eilanden woont en een belangrijke toeristische trekpleister van het meer is geworden.

Lezen via Blendle

Peru and Bolivia vow to clean Lake Titicaca

Published on Al Jazeera English

Puno, Peru – Taking a boat from the pier of Puno into Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world, means moving through murky water full of floating plastic first. Along the shores of the lake that lies on the border of Bolivia and Peru, the water has a weird foam layer on the surface and emits a smell of decay.

The famous floating islands of the Uros tribe lie only a few kilometres off the bay of Puno. They are a native tribe in Peru who live on islands made of reed. Joel Porcela, 57, lives with his family on one such island.

His wife lays out the fresh catch of silverside fish on a blanket to dry under the shining sun, while his daughter is in the back cutting the reed. The Uros not only use this plant for their floating islands, they also build their houses and boats from it, and use it as fuel for cooking. It’s a way of life that has existed for generations.

Read on in Al Jazeera

Mistvangers voorzien Peruaanse woestijn van water

Gepubliceerd op 9 december 2016

Ook al is Lima de op één na grootste woestijnstad ter wereld, is water hier eigenlijk in overvloed aanwezig. In de vorm van mist trekken dagelijks liters en liters water over de stad. Zelfs nu de zomer is begonnen, hangt er nog iedere ochtend een mist over de stad, die langzaam wordt weggebrand door de zon. Dus wie deze waterdamp kan afvangen en omzetten naar vloeibaar water, heeft de oplossing voor een groeiend en gigantisch probleem in handen.

Lees verder op OneWorld