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Peru: One Year After the Pisco Earthquake

August 15th marked the one year anniversary of the earthquake that struck southern Peru, specifically the region of Ica, Pisco and surrounding areas. It is a common opinion that the reconstruction has progressed very little. Much of the mainstream press also shares the same opinion that the government responded quickly at the beginning, but many promises were made that resulted in false expectations. [es] As a result, protests could be seen in these communities [es] calling for an account of the nearly one billion soles (Peruvian currency) that were invested in these areas. Bloggers also provide their thoughts on the reconstruction or lack of reconstruction.

For the blogger Peruanista [es] things are very clear, if the government of Alan García cannot solve this problem, then it must be changed.

El responsable directo del abandono de las víctimas del terremoto en Perú, es increíblemente, el propio gobierno peruano, el cual recibió fondos de donaciones de gobiernos de otros países, organizaciones no gubernamentales, grupos de rescate internacionales y , sobretodo de peruanos en el exterior, quienes donaron dinero y bienes a través de los consulados peruanos. Estamos hablando de cientos de millones de dólares.

No hay excusa para que un gobierno que se jacta de crear una economía en progreso, con las reservas internacionales más altas de la historia peruana, y que protege tanto a los inversionistas extranjeros y las corporaciones multinacionales, no invierta en la reconstrucción de las ciudades peruanas. Simplemente no hay excusa. El presidente Alan García, un verdadero delincuente, ha pedido a estos pobladores que “dejen de quejarse y que reconstruyan sus poblados ellos mismos sin esperar la ayuda del gobierno.” Les ha llamado malagradecidos.

The ones directly responsible for the abandonment of the victims of the Peruvian earthquake, is incredibly, the Peruvian government, who received the donations from other countries, non-governmental organizations, international rescue groups, and above all, Peruvians abroad who donated money through the Peruvian consulates. We are talking about hundreds of millions of dollars.

There is no excuse for a government that boasts about creating a progressive economy, with the highest levels of international reserves in Peruvian history, and that protects foreign investment and multinational corporations, which does not invest in the reconstruction of Peruvian cities. Simply there is no excuse. President Alan García is a true criminal and has asked for the residents to, “stop complaining and to reconstruct their communities themselves without waiting for the help of the government.” He called them ungrateful.

Susana Villarán writes about the efforts of everyday Peruvians, but how it was offset by the failure of government officials [es]:

Pocas veces nuestro país pudo constatar qué rápida fue y cómo permanece aún la respuesta ciudadana a la tragedia. Son personas particulares que fueron hasta el lugar, organizaron colectas, apadrinaron comunidades, pueblos, escuelas; empresas, ONG, movimientos de voluntarios juveniles como “Un techo para mi país” o las psicólogas y psicólogos así como artistas que trabajan atendiendo el stress pos traumático de los niños y niñas en las escuelas. No olvidemos a las y los médicos cubanos como a los bomberos españoles y también la gran movilización de nuestros compatriotas en el exterior y de los originarios de las comunidades afectadas en Lima, desde sus clubes provinciales y cofradías.

Quienes fallaron y lo siguen haciendo son las autoridades del gobierno nacional, regional y de los gobiernos locales. El protagonismo y la incapacidad de concertar están en el problema de origen que condenaba al fracaso la respuesta estatal desde el primer momento. Salvando excepciones, la ineficacia e ineficiencia, la lentitud de la reconstrucción, la negligencia, la corrupción e indiferencia, el protagonismo político y la incapacidad de dialogar y concertar han sido causantes de la pérdida de tiempo, de recursos, de oportunidades, del profundo desorden que golpea más aún a quienes tanto han perdido. Ofrecieron mucho, entregaron muy poco.

Few times in our country can we state that the citizen's response to the tragedy was fast and continuous. Individuals went to the location, organized collections, sponsored communities, towns, schools; businesses, NGOs, youth volunteer movements, such as “A Roof for My Country” or the psychologists and artists working to attend to the post-traumatic stress suffered by the schoolchildren. Let's not forget the Cuban doctors, Spanish firemen, as well as the grand mobilization of our countrymen abroad and those migrants from the affected communities in the provincial clubs and fraternities, who now living in Lima.

Those who failed continue to be the national, regional and local governments. Protaganism and the incapacity to come together was the problem from the start for the state response from the very first moment. With some exceptions, the inefficiency and ineffectiveness, the slow pace of reconstruction, negligence, corruption, indifference, political protaganism, and the incapacity to dialogue and come together were the cause of a waste of time, resources, opportunities, and profound disorder that hurts those that have lost so much. They offered a lot, and provide very little.

Menos Canas [es] writes that we must remember those Peruvians that continue to suffer the effects of the earthquake [es]:

Nuestros amigos del sur padecen la resaca de un desastre natural que podría ya haber empezado a quedar en el recuerdo si la lentitud de ciertos personajes no fuera tan vergonzosa. El Congreso de la República ha canalizado recursos para la construcción de viviendas, pero ¿ya se construyeron? No. Entre la burocracia y la ineficiencia de muchos funcionarios sigue corriendo un reloj que a cada minuto se hace más pesado y a la vez más grave respecto a lo distante que parece encontrarse nuestro propio país.

Our friends in the south who are suffering the after effects of a natural disaster could have started to forget if the slowness of certain people wasn't so embarrassing. The national Congress had channelled resources for the construction of housing, but were they constructed? No. Between the bureaucracy and the inefficiency of many public officials, the clock continues to run and each minute that passes it becomes more difficult and more serious with respect to the distance that our own country finds itself.

However, Desde el Tercer Piso [es] is hopeful in the midst of the hardships and governmental problems:

Y al mismo tiempo, la valentía que tienen los ciudadanos de las zonas afectadas para salir adelante en medio de la adversidad y la solidaridad de las personas que acuden a seguir ayudando me da la esperanza que aun no todo se encuentra perdido. Que la voz de los peruanos se puede hacer sentir. Espero el próximo año no escribir algo como esto, en medio de la decepción que me produce ver a cientos de compatriotas sin un lugar digno donde vivir. Espero que el próximo año pueda felicitar a los gobiernos locales, regionales y nacional por la tarea emprendida. Que pueda sentir que el Perú avanza de verdad y que no menospreciamos a la gente que falleció ni a quienes sobrevivieron. Como decía Vallejo, hay hermanos mucho por hacer.

At the same time, the bravery of the citizens from the affected areas to move ahead in the midst of the adversity and the solidarity of those that have joined to continue to help, gives me hope that all is not lost. May the voices of Peruvians be heard. I hope that I don't write the same thing next year, in the middle of deception when I see hundreds of countrymen and women without a dignified place to live. I hope next year that I can congratulate local, regional, and national governments for their undertaken task. May Peru feel like it is truly progressing and that we do not undervalue neither those that died, nor those that survived. As (Peruvian writer Cesar) Vallejo said, there are brothers, much to be done.

Finally Pepitas [es] poss a series of photos that shows the controversial party organized by the Government Palace [es] practically on the anniversary of the Pisco earthquake. The newspaper La República also presents a special edition about in its Sunday supplement [es].

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