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(PERU 19)






Agrarian League leader






The interview provides some interesting historical information on the relationship between the mining companies and the communities. This emerges when the narrator retells what he has learnt from his father and grandfather.

Florentino was born in Cerro de Pasco and lived there until he was seven, when his family moved to Paccha. At that time the gringos (North Americans who ran/owned the mines) were running the company in Cerro de Pasco and there were no educational facilities provided for the workers. The interviewer asks about games he used to play as a child and this leads onto a discussion about how children’s pastimes have changed (Nintendo and TV today)! Later in the interview Florentino describes other customs and how these have changed and talks extensively about changes in marriage customs and weddings.

His father and grandfather were tenants on haciendas (estate farms) owned by the Cerro de Pasco Corporation, which have now been broken up. His grandfather told him about land disputes in the 20’s and 30’s between the then 11 comuneros (registered community members with rights and responsibilities) in Paccha and the haciendas. Florentino provides further details about more recent disputes between communities and the mining companies. In 1968 there was an agreement between the Paccha and Cerro de Pasco Corporation – the community accepted a large lump sum with the agreement that they would not take any further action as a result of the contamination. Centromin will therefore not provide them with any compensation for current contamination problems. He is the community’s delegate to the Agrarian League who were successful in persuading the government to evaluate the effects of contamination in the province.

He describes the environmental damage as a result of smoke from the smelter. His father suffered from skin problems as a result of working in the smelter and left deciding it was better to be a farmer than a worker.

The narrator and interviewer discuss women’s position in the Agrarian League and this leads onto a fairly lengthy conversation about other committees women are involved in, women as leaders and generally their important role in the community. The interview ends with Florentino’s hopes for his own future and that of his children.

detailed breakdown

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Section 1  Talks about his background – his family went to Cerro de Pasco for work reasons and stayed there until he was seven, when they moved to Paccha.
Section 2  At the time of Cerro de Pasco Corporation the workers’ children didn't have access to education supplied by the company. His father was a miner and did carpentry work on the side. Florentino learned to carve wood by watching his father.
Section 3  Explains the games he played as a child and says that those games are no longer attractive to present day children.
Section 4  He says that children enjoy playing video games like Nintendo nowadays. Talks about the role of television as entertainment for children and explains that the community has a satellite dish.
Section 4-5  Education: Paccha has a primary and secondary school, as well as an agricultural school but higher education is not available and people who want it must go elsewhere.
Section 5  When he was young only primary education was available in Paccha. He dropped out of secondary school because he wanted money for his personal use and he could see that it was a great sacrifice for his father to pay for his education. He started working as a traditional sweet maker in Paccha, La Oroya and also Lima.
Section 6  Explains that higher education can only be obtained elsewhere. Centromin has private schools for the children of its workers in La Oroya. Company has 50 workers and pays 200 (including retirees) Talks about his father and grandfather; his grandfather was a tenant farmer.
Section 7  Explains the concept of tenancy Speaks about his father's experiences in the mines, about how exposure to contamination affected his health. Explains that his father did not become a miner permanently because he was concerned about the illness he could get from working in the mine.
Section 7-8  Talks about the community's land disputes with the Cerro de Pasco Corporation earlier this century.
Section 8  The comuneros had to leave their lands because they were ruined by the smoke from the smelter. Upon leaving, the lands were taken over by the haciendas. Endless legal battles.
Section 9  The compensation money received in 1974 was used to establish a sheep raising cooperative which failed. With the money that was left they set up a livestock department in the community of Paccha. Explains the agreement between the community and the company where the company gave a lump sum as compensation in 1968 and the community agreed not to take any further action in the future.
Section 9-10  Talks about the community customs, fiestas (festivals) and celebrations.
Section 10  Claims that young people no longer dance to traditional music but prefer rock. The young entertain themselves differently now - they use a lot of alcohol, dance to foreign music, smoke cigarettes and stir up trouble.
Section 10-11  Talks about his wedding and the way weddings are traditionally celebrated in Paccha.
Section 11  Explains the miquishpada, which is practiced when a man asks the bride’s parents for permission to marry the woman.
Section 12  Although tradition emphasises that the parents approve of the marriage, Florentino says that when that isn't the case the couple will get married anyway. Explains that marriage customs have changed: proposing is much simpler and men no longer have the respect for their future father-in-laws that they did in the old days. Following his own marriage, Florentino left Paccha to become an agricultural worker at his father-in-law's farm but returned to set up his own livestock farm.
Section 13  He talks about raising livestock and growing crops on his father’s land. Illness that attack the animals as result of the pollution.
Section 14  Describes the different diseases that are related to the development of mining and that specifically affect the animals. Livestock disease and decline due to pollution. As a community delegate of the Agrarian League he has formally demanded compensation from Centromin for the loss of their livestock, but Centromin have refused on the grounds of the 1968 agreement.
Section 15  Have complained to the government authorities and a committee will be evaluating the effects of the smoke in six communities in the province. At the time of interview didn’t know the results. Talks about the organisational structure of the Agrarian League
Section 16  Stresses that the biggest problem in Yauli and La Oroya that the Agrarian League addresses is environmental pollution. Explains how the committee is elected. There was one woman delegate but she moved away
Section 17  Role of women in the Agrarian League: they are always present at meetings. Talks about changes in attitude and the concern now for women to participate equally. Women's groups/mother's clubs and their roles in the community
Section 18  Opinion on the role of women as leaders. Both the interviewer and Florentino agree that women play an important role in the Paccha community. Talks about other community organisations such as the equestrian club.
Section 19  Talks about other sports clubs: the golf course is only accessible to Centromin workers. Discusses his future, his hopes for his children and points out there are few options for them in the community.