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(PERU 10)












Teófilo  has  combined his life as a comunero (registered community member with rights and responsibilities) with  work  in  the mines for 25 years. His ambition was to become a lawyer but  his parents  could  not afford for him to continue his  studies. He begins with a nostalgic recollection of how things used to be in Yauli: when food was plentiful (larders full of  meat) and  people  would come to Yauli  from near and far to  buy livestock, wool, weavings and even stay to raise animals themselves.

The  smelting works at La Oroya changed all that,  polluting  the land,  taking  lands away from the  comuneros  and  forcing  the campesinos into the mines. He recounts a tale of how a mulateer discovered minerals and sold the land to the mining companies. Mining hasn't altered  his personal life too much because he's continued with his  communal obligations  although he is considering moving elsewhere for  the sake of his children and their education. He insists he'll retain his links with the community.

He  feels uncomfortable working for the company that  has  destroyed their  lands but had little choice. He acknowledges some of  the benefits the mining company has brought them eg electricity,  but now  the  mines  are  laying off workers and  it’s  time  for  the community  to find alternative ways to survive: thermal baths,  a mineral water industry, trout farms, livestock etc.

He talks of the health effects of the polluted water - the  municipality are trying to do something about improving  the water.  The community (and ones nearby) have come together  to demand compensation for their degraded land. The amounts proposed are not enough to divide up between comuneros, not even to  cover the costs  of the medicine to cure their sick  animals. Rather than  compensation,  what  is needed is research  into  how  to rejuvenate   the  lands  -  the  municipality  is looking into pollution-resistant  trees for example. They also need  help  for improving their livestock.

He talks wisely of the economy in decline. Gone are the days  of wool, craft and meat production. A recent alpaca-raising  scheme failed  because  all the animals died. They need  investment  in tools, tractors, seeds, machinery etc. Yauli has contributed  so much  to the local economy, but is now in the shadow  of  La Oroya. It is time it was recognised and repaid.

detailed breakdown

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Section 1  Recounts family history – grandparents were comuneros and therefore he is. Laments decline of livestock in Yauli - caused by pollution and high costs of medicine etc. Before people had more resources, now families merely get by.
Section 2  Talks about the economic dilemma thrust on him and so many of his community - unable to afford the cost of going to university. He is a miner but keeps up his communal responsibilities and keeps some livestock. People have to engage in a range of economic activities to survive. Begins to talk about people leaving the area.
Section 3-4  Main activity of Yauli comuneros is mining, people only rear a few livestock. Decline of Yauli as La Oroya becomes the administrative (and industrial) centre; recollection of “golden era” of Yauli, when people would come from other countries to live here for the livestock and the mining. The fumes from the smelter at La Oroya have damaged everything. Have protested about their situation but no-one has listened to them. Migration - those who go forget about what they leave behind; most only come back to visit. Dilemma with his children - he wants to stay in the community, but wants the best for his children too so might have to move elsewhere
Section 5  Education – importance of this but there is no place for further education here. There is also a need for training and technical support to regenerate the land and the local economy.
Section 6  Description of work in mines – he has been a miner for 25 years. History of mines - tale of local mulateer who got rich when he discovered minerals. History of legal problems with mining company – pollution and deceit.
Section 7  Have to work in the mines for the family to survive. One of the benefits of people working in the mines has been the community getting electricity. Now the mining company have reduced the workforce and people must look for alternative ways to make a living. Ideas so far are livestock breeding, trout farm, mineral water plant etc. Pollution is getting worse and the reduced workforce has less power. People have problems with their teeth because of lime in water.
Section 8  Recollection of days of CdePC – they used to have many livestock Gradual deterioration of pasture. Smelters emit less fumes now than they did before but the damage has already been done.
Section 9  Need for economic and technical support. They have worked with another community and planted some trees. But there is a need for investment in regenerating soil and livestock; lack of medicine available for animals. Catch 22: they need more animals but can’t afford the medicines to cure and maintain them. Description of how the community is organised.
Section 10  Describes different diseases livestock suffer as a result of contaminated water, pasture and air. Role of cooperative - good idea but not actually yielding much reward. Fiestas (festivals, celebrations) – “there are lots of people who’ve emigrated to other places and almost forgotten about these fiestas.”
Section 11  Memories of artisanal fair which still occurs. Hopes for development of livestock - need for investment in hardy camelid (llamas) group rather than sheep and cows; disastrous attempt to rear alpacas; reiterates need for investment in tractors, seeds, technical support etc.
Section 12  Changing economic landscape of Yauli: from being a centre of farming, trade and commerce, it has lost out to La Oroya developed by the gringos (North Americans who ran/owned the mines).
Section 13  Brief discussion of the history of Yauli - tales of mines and livestock.