photo of person from Peru Cerro de Pasco
Peru glossary


(PERU 20)













Section 1
Could you tell us your name?
Ignacio Sandoval Santos.

Where were you born?

When was that?
1926, on the 23rd of February.

Pucará is another community in the province of Yauli on the Oroya-Lima road. Could you tell us how you came to Paccha?
We were living on an estate in Pucará then. The Cerro de Pasco Corporation evicted us in 1944.

Who did this estate belong to?
To the Cerro de Pasco Corporation.

Did you work for the Cerro de Pasco Corporation?
We were tenant farmers.

Tenant farmers?
Yes we were tenants on the estate, that's the way we worked in those days.

What did your father do?
He raised animals, our own animals like llamas, sheep and donkeys.

Until when was that?
Until 1944, then we were evicted and we had to come to Paccha.

How were you evicted?
The company made that decision, I suppose they wanted to run the estate differently and so they evicted the tenants.
Section 2
You must have been young then, how old were you?
I was 17 years old.

Tell me Don Ignacio did you manage to go to school?
I only did what they called the transition, just the beginning and then I couldn't go to school any more. I used to help my dad when I was a child.

What did you do?
We used to carry goods with the llamas. We carried minerals from Morococha to other places. That's what we did.

Who owned the mine then?
I think it was the Mining Bank and others, it was privately owned then.

Where did you deliver the minerals?
We took them wherever they sold best. We took them from the mine to the concentrator in Morococha, only to the main road where the truck passed by. Then they'd take it to other places.

How old were you when you made these trips?
I was 12 then.

So your dad worked mainly in cargo, in transport, but with llamas and other pack animals?
Yes, that's right.

And did he have any livestock?
Well he had a little, just a little.

About how many?
About 30 little sheep.

Did you have any cows?
No we didn't have any beef cattle because that needed more investment, more money.

Yes. We had three horses for the trips. That's why we needed them, you had to have horses for our work.

And did you live in the village of Pucará?
We lived on our farm. Now we live in the village community, from farm to farm, it's just the same, we were always with our animals, that's how we lived.

So you were tenant farmers, how much did you have to pay?
250 soles (Peruvian currency) each year.

Where was your mother from?
From here, from Paccha.
Section 3
And didn't your mother have any land since she was from the community, why did you have to rent?
Yes, that's exactly what we objected to; we've taken this to court.

Why did it go to court?
It was about a piece of land that the Cerro de Pasco Corporation took, they had taken over the little piece of land. We had a land title and everything but the company just took it.

How much land was it?
It would be four or five hectares. But they said it cut into Cerro de Pasco but we won the case. That was during the Belaunde government in the 1960s.

So you got your land back after the land invasions when the agrarian reform came in with Belaunde?
No, we already had it by then. It was long before the land invasions.

So you recovered your land in the 1960s?

Now, to pull all this together, you came to Paccha in 1944 when the Cerro company threw you out and that was because your mother was a member of the community?

But what did your father do in Paccha after 1944?
No, he was already dead; he died in Pucará in 1942.

He died in 1942. So you came with your mother?
Yes, just with my mum and a younger brother. I was still living with my mum. I was 18 years old when I went to look for a job in the Cerro de Pasco company in la Oroya.

And did the Cerro de Pasco Corporation give you a house in La Oroya?
Not when I started work, it was after a while. I had to have children for that. I lived in a rented house.

How long did you work for the Cerro de Pasco Corporation?
I worked for two years in the foundry and then in La Oroya, four and half, all in all. But I used to leave the company and then go back, in and out, in and out. I worked for the Cerro de Pasco company for about ten years in all.

You've had several different jobs in the Cerro de Pasco Corporation, tell me about what it was like the first time you went to work in the foundry.
Yes, well I was in and out, so the first time was for three months, in the Cerro de Pasco foundry.

Why did you leave so quickly at the beginning?
I began as a cleaner in the courtyards, there were eight of us working in the yard and cleaning the chimney. So when we went into the chimney with all that dust, fine arsenic that had been forgotten there for years. That was what was in the chimneys.
Section 4
It went into the filters, didn't it?
Well there weren't any filters then. The smoke fell over La Oroya like a snow fall.

So you were cleaning this smoke and soot from the chimney. Tell me more about this.
So spots appeared on my face the next day and they didn't get better in hospital. My face had swollen up so that's why I left, it was messing me up, making me ill. So that's why I left. They didn't want to let me go but I did anyway. I got better when I was back on the farm.

So you left work, got away from the dust and the smoke and you got better. That was the first time you worked in the Cerro Company. Did you go back to the foundry after that?
Yes the next time they sent me to the converter. I worked there for a year and then I left and went back to the farm. I left to help my mum out.

Did you leave again without much of a wait?
Yes because I was alone. There was no time off, we worked Sundays with no rest day. It was really hard work then.

There was no day off?
No, we worked every day.

Didn't you work an eight hour day?
Yes it was eight hours, but Sunday wasn't a rest day. We worked every single day.

Did you have any holidays?
We had fifteen days, fifteen days each year.

What year was that?
1944 or 45.

When you left the first time with the spots on your face, did you get any compensation for this illness?
No they didn't give me compensation because I only worked the trial period, three months.

You said the smoke fell on La Oroya like snow, could you explain that a little more?
Yes it was like a snow-fall, it was whitish and fine. When there was no wind it used to fall nicely but everyone went around with their noses covered up. I was a 12 year old lad then.

So you're talking about 1938?
Yes, I used to pass by when I was a lad on the trips to Huasahuasi with my dad. As I told you we worked in cargo and we used to sleep in La Oroya. You know if we didn't cover ourselves up our ears and nose would really itch.
Section 5
But didn't you get ill from this?
No, but we only spent an afternoon there so nothing happened but you can imagine what it would have been like if we worked there.

Do you know of anyone who didn't work there but got ill anyway?
No, the truth is I don't.

Where did you go after your year working in the converter?
After I went back to the farm to my mother I went off to Ralhuay (the area where the Centromín Perú railway section is located).

But you left the company?

Where did you work before you went to Ralhuay?
Before Ralhuay I went to San Pedro de Cajas. I learned to weave all kinds of traditional things, I became a good weaver and I went to work in Ralhuay.

What did you weave in San Pedro de Cajas?
Blankets, ponchos, wall-hangings, and everything that you can weave.

But you were an apprentice?
Well, I bought my own things and they showed me how to learn.

And did you sell these blankets?
I took them to Juaja and Huancayo ...

How long did you work as an artisan?
A year and a half.

And after that year and a half?
I returned to Ralhuay and I worked in the railways for four and a half years. Then I left and went back to the farm to help my mum and then I went to Cerro de Pasco. They sent me to Cerro and I worked there for a year.

What did you do?
I was in building.

So you never worked in the galleries?
No, no, no, just on the surface.

So you know about building too, do you know about brick-laying?
Yes, brick-laying, carpentry. I know it all.
Section 6
I see you have done many jobs and you like travelling from one place to another, you were never happy in one place, were you very restless?
Yes I was.

Did you return definitively to Paccha then, you didn't go back to work in the Cerro de Pasco Corporation.
Yes that's right.

And what did you do in Paccha?
I worked on the farm. I got another farm the one where my son is now. I began by helping out and raising sheep for other people.

Was it a way of renting a farm?
It was a way of helping out. I gave them two sheep for the farm and raised sheep for other people. We're still doing that.

And which animals did you raise?
We had sheep and horses, nothing else.

Have you had any problem with the fumes since you're near the foundry, has it affected your cattle or sheep?
Well, we had problems because lots of them were lame. The fumes made many of them lame and then they got torneo (livestock disease).

What's that?
All of a sudden the animals take a turn, they get water in their brains, it's a little bag of water in their brains, it gets into their heads. It's been proven. And that's why the animal falls over, to the right or to the left. The lame ones can't move their hind legs.

Have any of your animals been affected?
Yes they have. They get maniota (livestock disease) too, when they can't use both forefeet. It's all because of the fumes, especially when they're very thick and then they clear up a little.

Does it happen less now?
Yes, it's less, but the pollution is dragging this on, I think it's because of the altitude. They say the department is losing out and so they're selling cattle off. You should find out about this.

Yes, we'd be interested in finding out more about this. What do you mean when you refer to the department?
I mean the community's cattle department.

The Paccha community cattle department?

And do they know when the animals are ill?
The small animals, the little lame lambs for example. It just happened last month.
Section 7
So the disease appeared again last month?
It's not the first time, it happened last year too.

So it's from last year?
Yes, they sell the animals before they die.

And do you eat them?
Yes, we eat them. Of course it doesn't affect you, it only has a little problem with its thighs, it wobbles and it can't stand up well.

And have you raised any objections about this disease?
Well we did before but they don't make any objections now, I don't know.

You haven't done anything about it recently?

Do you know why they're not doing anything about it?
I don't know why, the leadership isn't interested.

Only the renguero the lame disease has appeared or has there been anything else?
The renguero, the maniota and the torneo.

All three diseases have come back.
The torneo and the maniota was from before and the renguero has come back this year. Just renguero now. The horses get renguero too because of the smoke and also when they get perera (livestock disease).

Is perera another disease?
The horses get welts in their hooves. There's another disease, I don't know its name, which makes the sheep lose their fleece.

Is that recent or from before?
It happened before and it's happening now.

So they're losing their wool?
Yes they lose it and sometimes the animal dies.

And do you eat it when it dies?
Yes, we eat it when it's big.

And hasn't this affected people?
No, no, no, we cook it well with salt and garlic, well spiced. Maybe it would be dangerous if we ate it raw.

And does the dust, like snow, fall in Paccha too?
Yes, the fumes come this way and everything burns as it grows, for example the potatoes, the top of the plant ends up frozen like ice.
Section 8
What do you plant over here?
Potatoes, carrots, lettuce, carrot. We're still planting things.

But do the fumes affect it?
They ruin the crops, they break and burn, as if they had frozen. The tips of the leaves get burnt like ice. It affects all our produce and it's hard to plant.

Are you talking about a large quantity of crops or do people plant just for themselves?
Just for themselves. Only some of us plant others don't because some years it works and others it doesn't. It's been like that for while now.

Some years it works and others it doesn't?
Yes, the whole lot burns like ice. The ice-burn came four times this year, then it got better. The potatoes were tiny and the chire (local potato) didn't grow.

You don't know that, do you. It's the local potato used to make chuño (potato that has been conserved by freeze drying).

Do you always plant that?
Just some of the time, not always, it used to grow well.

Could you tell us how you make chuño which is one of the local traditional dishes?
It's done like this. You ice the potatoes as we say, then you squash them to remove the skin and put them in a specially prepared well. Then you cover the whole lot with water and leave them for eight days. They decompose a little, then you take them out and squeeze out all the water. It's almost like starch.

How do you use it?
We use it mostly instead of bread for breakfast or lunch.

It's a substitute for bread?

Do you eat it every day?
No, depending on how it's made. We usually make a little bag or two and it lasts fifteen to twenty days. But we don’t plant large quantities of it here because of the fumes, the ice would ruin it, that's for sure.

What other damage do the fumes do?
All the plants get burned.

And have you had problems with the water because of the mines?
Section 9
Such as?
With the Mantaro. In 1948 or 1950 I think, there used to be a lot of fish. They used to fish in the Mantaro, some of the fish have disappeared.

What kind of fish?
Little fish, trout or catfish. There were loads in the Mantaro and much more in the reservoir. But then the water got minerals in it and killed everything. There's nothing now.

Have any other water sources been ruined apart form the Mantaro?
Yes, the Shinca river which comes from Quiulacocha. The spring is up there. It's called Quiullacocha and that's where it comes from.

Is it from Cerro de Pasco or somewhere else?
From just up here in Paccha.

Who pollutes the Shinca waters?
Centromín because they're extracting up there in Shinca. It's the explosives which ruin the water. We've had that experience here and how they're doing it in Shinca,

I'm sorry but I don't understand what Shinca is.
Shinca is a rock which belongs to the community. It used to belong to the community, we had a lot and we sold it to Centromín. But we've had problems because the water's polluted from the explosives. They use dynamite to get through the rock, the Shinca in this case, so it's the explosions from the mine.

What is the alevino?
It's a little fish, a little trout for breeding but we can't do it because the river has been ruined by the dynamite from the shinca mine.

What's the mine called?

How do they work this mine?
They take out the shinca and burn it for lime which they use in the foundry. They do it every year. The Cerro de Pasco Corporation used to pay for this and now they don't demand anything from them. I don't know why this happens.

The company used to pay you compensation for this?

How much was that?
Well, I don't know that.

That was with Cerro de Pasco, Centromín doesn't pay compensation any more?
Not any more.
Section 10
Do you remember when the Cerro company used to pay in compensation for the fumes?
It was around the time of president Manuel Martín.

When was the last time you got compensation?
In 1968.

You haven't had any compensation since then?
No, that was the last time.

Have you been a community leader?

Which post did you have?
I was a committee member on three occasions.

Do you remember when that was?
In 1972, then again when I came back from my job in Cerro, I was treasurer for two years in 1975 when William Camargo was president of the community. I haven't been in any post since then. You work a lot in the community and they pay poorly and then sometimes you work well but people don't get on. That's what happens sometimes.

A lot of criticism?
Yes lots.

What kind of criticism?
There was no accountant during my first stint, so I kept the accounts and then they wouldn't balance. A little money was missing and they thought I had stolen it. I paid that money to the community. They never lost anything because of me. I paid it all.

Couldn't they pay an accountant?
No because the funds were very low and we only had enough for the small expenses. We were just setting up a sheep cooperative with the compensation for the fumes and the shinca. We bought the cooperative and we paid in as shareholders.

You set up a cooperative?

When was that?
In 1975, it was a big step forward for the community.

Are the leaders of the cooperative different from the leaders of the community?
No, it belongs to the community.

No, I mean the people who manage it are they the same as the ones who lead the community?
Yes, the president of the community also manages ...
Section 11
He manages the cooperative?

Did you employ technicians, engineers and vets?
No, only shepherds to look after the animals.

And when you came back to Paccha were you married or single?
I was married.

How old were you when you got married?
I was young, it was when I was working in Cerro de Pasco.

Where is your wife from?
San Pedro de Cajas.

How did you meet her?
Her dad also worked in La Oroya.

How long had your wife lived in La Oroya?
For many more years than me.

And when you and your wife came to Paccha did you already have children?
We were alone, my wife didn't have any children.

And your children?
From another woman. I had them ... because she didn't have any.

Were they born in Paccha?

Do you remember how you got married?
I got married in Palcomayo, we had both a civil and a church wedding.

Do you remember how you celebrated it?
We had quite a celebration with my family and friends, we danced a lot, to local music.

What food do people eat at weddings?
Puchero and guinea pig.

What's puchero like?
It's made from potatoes, cabbage and a little meat. We also cook the guinea pig with potatoes.

Have you ever been to any other fiestas (festivals, celebrations) outside of Paccha or La Oroya, are they different in each village?
I've been to fiestas in San Pedro de Cajas.

What do they do there?
In San Pedro. They have a mass and then a pajarey (?), after the mass they invite the guests to eat.
Section 12
What's the food like?
local foods, potatoes, cancha (toasted beans or maize) and charqui (dried llama meat). Then they go to the Master of Ceremonies' home and dance to a band.

What kind of alcohol do they drink?
They drink ponche.

What's in the ponche?
They make it with beaten eggs and chicha de jora (liquor made from maize)

Are there any other drinks?
Then they have their shots, they drink caña (rum), pure rum from Chanchamayo and Vichaycoto. Vichaycoto is in Huánuco and the packers bring it from Vichaycoto of Huánuco.

Apart from the godparents' dance what else is there?
They have bull-fights at three in the afternoon, that’s really traditional.

Where do the bull-fighters come from?
They say they're from Lima and according to the programme they come from other countries. The bulls are from Viña and they come in a truck.

What do you mean 'they say'. Do people doubt they're from Lima or from other countries?
Yes they do.

What's the most important fiesta in Paccha?
The Immaculate Conception, it's a religious fiesta.

When is the Immaculate Conception?
It's the 8th of December.

How is it done?
It begins on the evening of the 7th, they have evening prayers and they sing huaylas (traditional songs/dances) accompanied by guitars and there are traditional bands.

Where do the bands come from?
From Jauja. They have mass on the 8th and then there's a procession. After the procession they go to the Master of ceremonies' house with a band, they drink ponche, dance, eat guinea pig and patasca and then puchero (dish made from potatoes, cabbage and a little meat)

Patasca is a local traditional dish, what's it like?
It's broth made from the head of the sheep and corn. Then there's guinea pig which they make with peanuts.
Section 13
And what do they do in the evening?
The priest offers more prayers for another day and another statue. They set off fireworks.

Which statue?
The Little Immaculate Conception.

Who is the Little Immaculate Conception.
That's the virgin when she was small. That's on the 9th. The fiesta goes on with mass, a procession and you should see the bull fights.

Where are the bulls from?
They're from the community. The community donates the bulls.

And the bull-fighters?
They're from Huancayo.

So the San Pedro de Cajas fiesta is a much grander event than the one in Paccha?
Yes, it's free here and you pay in San Pedro de Cajas, but it's free here. San Pedro's got a bull-ring and we don't here, so we do it in the square.

We left off on the 9th, carry on please.
Yes, there's mass, a procession, they drink their ponche, dance and there are horse shows too.

What happens there?
The horses are trained and mounted. The riders do turns in a field, they do a figure of eight or six. Then there are a few more things.

Where do they have the horse show?
In Paccha's main square.

What else is there?
The jala-pato (literally, pull the duck) and the jala-cinta (literally, pull the ribbon).

What is the jala-pato?
In the jala-pato they hang a duck from a frame, then the horse-riders gallop up, grab the duck's head and try to pull it, and it's just the same if they're on foot.

Who wins the game?
The one who gets the head, the one who pulls the duck's head off.

And what's the prize?
Well, he takes the duck and has to donate one the next year.

And do they always give the duck the following year?
Section 14
And does that happen every year?
Every year and the jala-cinta is similar.

What else do they do apart from the jala-pato?
Then there's the rompe-olla (literally, break the pot). They hit hanging clay pots with a stick.

Where do they hang them?
From arches.

And who wins in this one?
The one who breaks them quickest, they also do the sack race and lots of other games.

Lots of games that day?

And how does the fiesta finish?
It ends at eleven o'clock, they bring in another statue, there's a mass, and the jonchupaco (final festival dance) is the final farewell after mass.

What's the jonchapaco?
The jonchapuco is danced in the open air in the council. The secretary is there writing down people's names and how much they want to give and how they'll give it for the following year. They choose the new Master of Ceremonies who will preside over the fiesta and provide the entertainment.

Is this a commitment from community members to celebrate the fiesta the following year?
Yes, the jonchapuco is everything the Master of Ceremonies have left over, there's food and a table for everyone. All the Masters of Ceremonies have done this.

There's food left-over after all these days of fiesta?
No, alcohol. Alcohol and maize beer is what's left-over.

And is that the way the fiesta ends?
The fiesta is finished until ... huatancama.

What is huatancama?
It's Quechua for ... “until next year”.

And do you think the fiestas are just the same or have there been changes over the years?
I think they're the same because they're important moments for our community. People come from all over just to celebrate this, it's really lovely.
Section 15
It seems that you're happy with your life here in Paccha, is it better than life as a worker in the Cerro de Pasco Corporation?
Well, I only left on account of my mum, my mum was alone on the farm and there was no-one else to see to it or to help her. And I was there when we took on the other farm.

So why did you leave the Cerro de Pasco Corporation?
To keep my mother company on the farm, to look after her and help her.

Did you like life on the farm?
Yes of course I liked it.

More than work in the mine?
Well I worked on civil construction.

Did you prefer life in the countryside to life in construction with a company like the Cerro?

And that's why you left?
That's why I left.

It wasn't for economic difficulties?

You left because you wanted to go back to your community?
Yes that's why I left, I wanted to serve my community.

And are you happy that you left the Cerro company?
Well, I've accepted it, what can I do?

You said you left to help your mother.
Yes because she only had two children.

And your other brother?
He was there on the farm.

He lives here?

Did he help your mum too?
Yes he used to help out, but he also worked in Morococha that's why my mum was alone on the farm. My brother was working in Morococha at the same time that I was working in Cerro de Pasco.

And when your mum was alone?
I left for the farm.

The main reason was to help your mum?
Yes, when I got there they told me that the old owners wants the lands back but I said that some day my brother would go back to the farm or leave his job so I decided to have my own farm and look after the family land too.
Section 16
Just to finish with, you have three children?

Do they live in Paccha with you?

All of them?

How old are your children?
37, 33 and 31.

Didn't they leave Paccha to go to school?
They did their secondary in La Oroya, a few years, two years.

So they didn't finish secondary?
No they didn't.

Why not?
Because they didn't want to study, they got tired of it.

Did they prefer farm-work?

And they haven't thought about moving somewhere else?
No, they've stayed with us and they're working. That's all I can tell you at the moment.

Many thanks, your experience and your contribution have been very worthwhile. Now I'm going to interview one of your children and I won't take up more of your time because I know they're waiting for you at the farm.
Yes, well I wasn't very well prepared.

No, but it's been very good, the conversation has been very interesting, thanks.
That's what I had hoped for. I'm going off to the farm.