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Peru: Cusco Bloggers Cover the Rain Disaster

After two weeks of heavy rain and non-stop rainfall and following floods of Cusco, Puno and Apurímac, the citizen media has thoroughly covered the disaster in South Peru, while traditional media is now focusing on other affected zones like North shore [es], the North Jungle [es] and the Central Jungle.

Photo by Alfredo Velarde. Used following a Creative Commons license. Taken from http://www.flickr.com/photos/velardemariscal/4316299488/in/set-72157623188793247/

Photo by Alfredo Velarde. Used following a Creative Commons license. Taken from http://www.flickr.com/photos/velardemariscal/4316299488/in/set-72157623188793247/

A persistent idea in the Cusco blogosphere is the lack of prevention [es] from the local and regional governments for this type of disaster that seems to happen every year. Frida Ibáñez from Crónicas desde el centro Cusco explained the geography and characteristics of the city, and questioned why there is no planning nor prevention from the authorities [es]:

Ha llovido por cuatro días consecutivos con breves descansos, el cielo parecía no contenerse y caía agua de forma estrepitosa. Los ríos en las calles crecían cada vez más. No recuerdo una lluvia así de fuerte desde mi infancia … El Cusco es una hoyada. No es por gusto que la llaman ombligo… su geografía es particular. … Es en época de secas, entre mayo a setiembre que deberían hacerse la limpieza de los ríos, tal como lo hacían los Incas. Podríamos prevenir las pérdidas ante una eventualidad climática como la última. Nos preguntamos: ¿qué hacen las autoridades con el dinero que Cusco recibe del canon minero? recordemos que hace unos años se devolvió dinero de la Región Cusco a Lima porque no hubo capacidad de gasto y gestión.

Rain has fallen for four consecutive days with only brief stops, the sky did not seemed able to retain itself and water fell very noisily. The rivers in the streets grew each time. I don't remember rain this heavy since my childhood … Cusco is a gully. It is not called ‘navel’ by nothing… its geography is very unique. … It is in times of drought, between May and September that rivers should be cleaned, like the Incas used to do. We could prevent the loss to an climatic event like the last one. We ask ourselves: what are the authorities doing with the money that is given to Cusco by the mining taxes? We should remember that years ago money was returned from the Cusco Region to Lima because there was no spend capacity or management.

Frida also wrote about helping those affected by the rain [es]. CafeHenry from the blog El Placard “H” also commented on the reaction from the government [es] .

Photo by Alfredo Velarde. Used following a Creative Commons license. Taken from http://www.flickr.com/photos/velardemariscal/4315585687/in/set-72157623188793247/

Photo by Alfredo Velarde. Used following a Creative Commons license. Taken from http://www.flickr.com/photos/velardemariscal/4315585687/in/set-72157623188793247/

Alfredo Velarde was visiting the town of Aguas Calientes, on the foothill of Machu Picchu, when it all started. On his blog, he offered a first-hand testimony of the disaster [es] and impressive photos on his Flickr account:

casi 3000 personas procedentes de Camino Inca y de la ciudad de Cusco, quedamos varadas en este pueblo, con escáso alimento, una pésima organización contra desastres naturales, autoridades corruptas y el desconcierto persistente, para el martes el caos se apodero del pueblo, debido a la poca ayuda del gobierno y las terribles desigualdades entre los residentes, turistas extranjeros y peruanos que las mismas autoridades genéran. … hoy por la tarde recién pude salir del lugar evacuado en un helicóptero de la Fuerza Aérea Peruana … pero preocupadísimo por los cientos de peruanos que por discriminación están siendo dejados de lado por la autoridades policiales, militares y por los grupos de extranejeros al mando de las actividades de organización para la evacuación.

almost 3000 people from Camino Inca and the city of Cusco were stranded in this town, with almost no goods, a faulty organization against natural disasters, corrupted authorities and persistent confusion, on Tuesday the chaos reigned in town, because of the scarce support from the government and the horrible inequalities among habitants, foreign turists and peruvians, caused by the authorities themselves. … today in the afternoon I could finally leave the place by an helicopter of the Peruvian Air Force … but I was so worried about the hundreds of peruvians that are left behind because of the discrimination by the police authorities, the military and the foreign groups in charge of the organized activities for evacuation.

Citizen media has gathered important information about the impact of the disaster. One of the most comprehensive coverages is the one of Marco Moscoso from El Caminerito, who we addressed in a previous post. He reported through his blog and Twitter account about emergency brigades, donation centers and any related irregularities, and even created a map with information of the affected areas.

Another important example is Prensa Contacto, a project started by two young communicators from Cusco who inform about what happens on their grounds. In a recent post [es] they reported that, until February 4th, in the Cusco Region there were 35,818 affected families and 13,210 dwellings damaged, following the last report from the regional president.

On his personal blog, Luis Figueroa made a virtual tour on Valle Sagrado with information about food and goods [es] in case of disaster. He also narrated and illustrated a mass and a procession to stop the rain [es]:

Desde 1986 el Taytacha no salía a las calles del Cusco fuera de su día principal -Lunes santo-, hoy, sin embargo, se realizó un servicio religioso a las 10:00 horas en el atrio de La Catedral con la intención de elevarle preces para aplacar las fuertes lluvias que caen sobre la región … Sin embargo, luego de concluida la misa, el sacerdote anunció que “para cuidar la imagen” la bendición sería impartida sólo en el atrio, a lo que el pueblo replicó “¡Que haya procesión!”. Minutos después, el Taytacha de los Temblores daba una vuelta por la Plaza de Armas para satisfacción de los fieles.

Since 1986 the Taytacha did not come out the streets of Cusco besides the main festivity -sacred Monday-, today, however, a religious service was made at 10:00 hours in the atrium of La Catedral with the purpose of praying for the tame the heavy rains that fall on the region … However, after the mass concluded, the priest announced that “in order to protect the sacred figure” the blessing would be given in the atrium, which caused the people to answer “There must be a procession!”. Minutes after, the Taytacha de los Temblores [Lord of the Tremors] made rounds through the Plaza de Armas to please the believers.

On the subject of help and solidarity, the Proyect of La Casa de Mayten reported both in text and photos [es] the current actions to help those affected in the town of Huacarpay on the blog Cambiando el Mundo:

Mi meta principal del viaje hoy fue levantar/recopilar informacion sobre la situacion global actual en Huacarpay, identificar sus necesidades urgentes, ver su estado de salud, y identificar los puntos de contacto a traves de los cuales coordinar esfuerzos organizados. … pudimos rapidamente conocer a, y hablar con, los 10 representates de los 10 sectores formados en el cerro en el que se refugian desde el domingo pasado, 315 familias (aprox 1,575 personas) incluyendo al sr. alcalde y a la teniente gobernadora.

My principal achievement of today's trip was to collect/obtain information about the actual global situation in Huacarpay, identify their urgent needs, check on their health status, and identify contacts by which coordinated and organized efforts can be made. … quickly we got to know and talk with 10 representatives of 10 organized sectors in the hill where, since last Sunday, are refugeed 315 families (aprox 1,575 people) including the mayor and the lieutenant governor.
Photo by Alfredo Velarde. Used following a Creative Commons license. Taken from http://www.flickr.com/photos/velardemariscal/4316294672/in/set-72157623188793247/

Photo by Alfredo Velarde. Used following a Creative Commons license. Taken from http://www.flickr.com/photos/velardemariscal/4316294672/in/set-72157623188793247/

More coverage on this situation can be found on the blogs El Caminerito, Urquillos [es], Radio Voz Populi Urubamba [es], Apurímac, Christian David Peña [es], El Trotamundo Tartamudo [es] and Chikuchape [es].

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