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(PERU 27)








La Oroya




Carmen is a secondary graduate who has lived all her life in La Oroya. She is single and still lives with her parents. The whole family is planning to move to Lima for work. Carmen's father, like many men of his age, is in dispute with Centromin Peru over his severance pay. This has given Carmen a strong commitment to defending the rights of miners, so she plans to study to be a lawyer.

Carmen is very attached to her parents and wants to help now her father is unemployed. She is very aware of the way the company has used men like her father and of the impact of pollution, which has left many workers chronically ill. She discusses the trimming down of the company for privatisation which means few opportunities and/or alternatives for young people in La Oroya, who have to move to the cities to find work. One result is they marry at a later age.

She talks about the way young people in La Oroya enjoy a mixture of cultures, contrary to what older people say, through modern music and dancing, and the local traditions.

Interesting explanation of local taboo on women entering the mines - angers the pachamama (mother earth) who doesn't want another woman inside her.

detailed breakdown

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Section 1  Family history: father from Puno, came to La Oroya for work; mother from the area
Section 2  It is much less common these days for young women from La Oroya to marry miners. The company is employing less people, so many of the young people from mining families migrate. Miners not considered good marriage partners as can't get stable work. Sees mining as a hard life with little reward.
Section 2-3  Father's history in the mine: 25 years of service and then dismissed because of staff reductions for privatisation. Now in legal dispute with the company to get severance pay.
Section 3  Father is doing a bit of trading to make a living, helped by his wife and daughter. Five children in her family - none in the mines. Two brothers in Lima, other three (women) all at home, all single.
Section 4  Boyfriend went to Lima for work – but she stayed to help her parents. Less common for girls to marry young now, because of migration and interest in education. Whole family moving to Lima, planning to set up a business with severance pay.
Section 5  Going to Lima as a family will be easier than when her brothers went on their own. Life is hard and dangerous in Lima, danger of robbery and being taken advantage of. Big city means no-one knows you, not like Oroya, which feels small, comfortable, friendly
Section 6  Great feast days in Oroya, fireworks, dances, etc. Young people do traditional and modern dances
Section 7  People who migrate don't forget their own customs, culture eg her brothers. New dancing fashions come through radio and TV - not available in parents’ day. Best kept customs are dances and local dishes. Father is from Puno but she thinks he has taken on the Oroyan way of life in terms of customs.
Section 8  She's never been to Puno, it’s too far; only knows her mother's family. Mining tradition in men on mother's side - used to work in Centromin. Uncles retired and live elsewhere in the region and have set up businesses
Section 9  Why women don't go down the mines. The Pachamama (mother earth) doesn't like women inside her so no women miners, otherwise death and tragedy would result.
Section 10  Muki - jokester ghost in the mines. Her schoolfriends have mostly left Oroya for work or for further education. Young men most likely to leave. Modernisation of foundry – investment but less jobs.
Section 11  Pollution - knows fumes damage health. Father's workmates have fallen ill, get lead or acid poisoning, often die. Not much public awareness or action on pollution. Nothing in schools as virtually owned by the mining company. A little action from council and NGOs Her future - wants to help parents by working and studying. Wants to study law to help people like her father out
Section 12  Wants to live near her family. Doesn't want to get married until finished studying