photo of person from Peru Cerro de Pasco
Peru glossary


(PERU 4)













We're in the campesina community of Quiulacocha in the department of Cerro de Pasco about 4,300 metres above sea level. The main activity is livestock rearing with the mining company, Centromin Peru, nearby. On this occasion we’re going to talk with a member of the community.

Señor, could you tell us your name and what you do?
Section 1
Do you originally come from this community or did you come to Quiulacocha for work?
My parents, my ancestors, are from round here. Although I was educated outside the community I cam back here to be close to my family and to teach what I'd learnt in the University.

We imagine your case can't be that common. Don't most young people think about emigrating?
That's for sure. Lots of young people go to the cities, Lima, Huancayo, Huanuco. But in my case I stayed. My father had died and I'd a sick mother and younger brothers. But then I’ve never preferred the city. I like the country more.

What didn't you like about the city?
The life there. I like the country, its tranquillity, its liberty, its customs.

Do you find that the customs in the city are different to those in the country?
Of course, they don't compare at all.

What sort of things?
I don't know. Life itself. In the city, nobody knows anyone, they live fast and don't help each other, there's lots of crime and delinquency. Life's very expensive and what you earn isn't enough to live on.

Doesn't the solidarity of the comuneros ( registered community members with rights and responsibilities) exist there?
Not at all. Here it’s different. Although there are some selfish people around here, it’s different, there's more solidarity, friendliness, people help each other. It’s a fundamental thing in our community.

What does it mean to be a comunero?
It means to belong to a community. To have land. To work the land. To help with the communal work, to do the work of everybody. To contribute to the maintenance of the community livestock and crops. To respect the authorities. This is what being a good comunero is all about.
Section 2
But how do you get to become a comunero? Can anyone from your community become one, for example?
They can, but normally it’s the children of other comuneros who ask to be [one], or they inherit land from the community authorities. There are few people [from outside] who become [comuneros] though sometimes they do, sometimes through marriage. It was even rarer before, people only married between members of the community and the husband had to have land and cattle to be able to ask for a girl’s hand.

Has this custom changed now?
In a way, yes. Now people pair up more easily with strangers. Men come to look for women and they take them away, though there are still marriages between Quiulacochans as well. Some people go to the city and get married there. Its not like before anymore. Before people didn't go out of their communities as often. Now there's not as much land either and you can't work here, there isn't room for everyone.

Did you get married here?
Yes, my wife's from here and my children have been born here.

You told us you prefer the customs of the country, those of your community, to those of the city. Do you think these have changed or are changing from what your parents told you about them?
Of course some things have changed, but there are things that stay the same.

What's changed? Give me a example?
Look, there are things in relation to the work we do... for example my parents told me that in the old days, the only work our community was involved in was raising animals and fishing in the lake.

Not any more then?
The lands were for grazing animals. There wasn't any mining. I don't think even my parents saw this time. It was my grandparents. Now there's the mining and many of the members of the Quiulacocha community are miners - and this is different. It’s one thing to work all day in the fields, but it’s another to be a miner, to get a wage. Our community's very old and it was always just livestock before. Its history is very rich. There were fish then as well.

What can you tell us about your history?
Talking specifically of the history of Quiulacocha, this goes back to the age of the Incas. It’s quite certain that there were foundries in this community where the Incas processed silver. Ethnologically speaking, Quiulacocha comes from two words: Quiula which means seagull and cocha which means lake. As you may appreciate, the name of the community makes reference to two things which practically don't exist anymore. There are no seagulls in the area now and the lake is dead because of contamination from the mines. As for the lake, nowadays, [the mining company], Centromin Peru, is seriously damaging the community because of the pollution from the mines. I'm going to stress this because recently, and for some time, we’ve had serious problems with the company in terms of the environmental pollution of the lakes.
Section 3
Has the organisational structure of the community changed?
Hardly. The community of Quiulacocha is split into two principal bodies that work for the progress of the people: one is the community with its governing board which is the main central entity from which comes the governing body of the communal company which is concerned specifically with livestock; the other is the municipio (local council) which rules within the borders of Quiulacocha. These are the community authorities.

When you need to make a [communal] decision, how do you go about it?
Well, to make a decision which involves resolving any kind of problem, we call a general assembly of comuneros and the decisions are made between them. We discuss things and arrive at a few alternatives.

What about any conflicts you might have here in the community, what means do you use to resolve them?
I'll answer that with a poignant example: recently we have had problems with Centromin and to resolve them, first, to be diplomatic, we sent out documents to relevant places. Regrettably, they weren't listened to. So we took a decision to fight head on to defend our land with our own comuneros and to go ahead and tackle the problem, if you like, because there isn't any other way of solving the problem we have.

Tell me, does the community belong to any union?
Yes, the Quiulacocha community belongs to the Campesina Federation of Cerro de Pasco.

And does that mean they also affiliated to the Campesina Confederation of Peru?
Well we're not affiliated , because just recently they’re setting up, what do you call it, a multi-communal body in Cerro de Pasco. I think it’s a kind of union, but we’re also in the process of joining this - it’s a little bit complicated because you need papers and everything, but we’re in the process of sorting this out.

What changes can you highlight as the most important things that have happened in the Quiulacocha community according to what your relatives have told you?
I think the main change has been the development of the mines which has harmed us as a community. This is, and continues to be, the reason why people leave. They leave, they leave, regrettably they leave, for the simple reason that, and I repeat, because Centromin will always be accused of destroying our lands. What's done is done because places like Cuchis, Antaloma, Huaibacochas, are grazing areas and Centromin has contaminated it all. In the face of this, the people have had to go and live elsewhere.
Section 4
They go then for work?
That's right, for work and because they don't have land any more to work because the only way to earn an income here is in livestock.

Where do these people go?
Mainly they go to the capital; others to the better cities of Huancayo, Huanuco and so on

And these people never come back?
They only return for the simple reason that they are comunero. Sometimes the community gives them benefits, thanks to the permanent support of the cooperative. They come for a short while, then they go back because there’s nothing else for them - it often takes an anniversary [feast day] or something in the community for them to return. Because of this, we're losing our community and some people think there's no future now, and they go and never come back.

The main problem that has had a negative affect on the history of your community then is, for you, pollution from the mines.
That's right, the mines haven't done us any good at all. They will have helped the owners, the government, the people who work there. Not the communities. And what's more, the minerals were from our lands.

You don't think they've done you any favours?
Well, a few things, but it hardly makes up for it.

What kinds of services have you got here in Quiulacocha?
The services we have in our community are... we’ve now got a medical post, water, drainage, electricity - we’re really appreciating this and anyone who comes enjoys the services that our community has to offer.

Do you have telephones?
No, there are no ‘phones. Not all of this, mind you, is thanks to the Centromin company.

Talking a little about the community, what other communities are close to Quiulacocha? Do they also have problems?
Quiulacocha is adjacent to the communities of Yurajhuanca, San Antonio de Rancas, Sacrafamilia, Colquijirca smelter and with the districts of Champamarca and Buenas Aires. They're also affected by the pollution and I imagine their problems are not very different to our own.

Don't you have much to do with neighbouring communities?
Sometimes yes, but there are also times when there are problems between us.

Have you had problems with some of these communities then?
Yes, if we talk about problems, in 1980, we had problems with the invasion of our land.
Section 5
And what was the result of these problems, what happened?
In this period, in 1980, they took more than 1000 hectares away from us - that was the problem. Unfortunately, we still haven't been able to resolve it.

You haven't recovered this land yet?
Until now, we’ve hardly recovered any.

And have you tried to recover the land or have you just left it?
Just recently, last week in fact, we reviewed the problem - we had a meeting. We’re anxious to reclaim our territory. We’ve arrived at a point where we don't have enough space for the livestock. You asked about the changes that have occurred in the community, well - this is an historical change.

Meaning that for ever, since the arrival of the Spanish, since the arrival of the Gringos (westerners, foreigners, in this context North Americans who ran/owned the mines) and their huge mining companies, my community, our communities, have continually lost their land, whether it be through pillage or expropriation. The mines that existed in Quiulacocha, since we didn't exploit them, they came and took them away. They contaminated the land and the lakes. Now there are no seagulls, so in time we'll have to change the name - they'll take this away from us too. The government’s done nothing for us. It hasn't protected us at all, it has always favoured the big companies.

Do you currently receive any type of help or support from the government? Isn't there any project to deal with the pollution?
Unfortunately Quiulacocha hasn't received any help from the government up until this day. The proposals we make just bounce back - they don't take any notice of them. When the elections came, the President came up here looking for votes. But because there are so few of us, we’re of no interest to them. As you can see for yourself, there’s nothing, no collaboration at all with central government.

Tell me though, is the council of Quiulacocha working in favour of the community?
As it’s a centro poblado (village) it’s governed by the district of Simon Bolivar, any funds are administered through the local council of Simon Bolivar. In anything comes from central government, it is channelled through the district of Simon Bolivar and from there logically it filters through to here. But you know that when anything is passed down from one hand to another, what remains is the dregs, and all that reaches Quiulacocha is a pittance.

Apart from Centromin, what other mines are there around here?
The closest is actually the mining company of Brocal, in Colquijirca, right next door to our community.

Do you have problems with Brocal as well?
Until now no, there haven’t been any problems.
Section 6
Is there a police post here in Quiulacocha?
No, we don't have one. We rely on our own governor and justice of the peace. There's no police post.

Are there any army troops near here?
Yes, there's the military barracks Domingo Ayarza of Quiulacocha. But this doesn't mean that there’s anybody at the barracks, it just means that there’s a base here in Quiulacocha, because it’s logical that it should be around Quiulacocha. But no, it doesn't interfere at all with what goes on here.

Are you saying that you've never had any kind of problems with them?
Not with the barracks, because they don't have any problems with us. Quite the contrary - we’re trying to get some kind of collaboration going with them, some kind of support for the community.

Talking a little about the jobs and work here in Quiulacocha, what do most people in Quiulacocha do for work?
I guess the majority find work in the mining sector, the famous Centromin Peru; on in the other sector, the so-called public sector in the sub-regional office of education, development etc. Most of the others are involved in rearing livestock here in Quiulacocha.

Are there miners in Quiulacocha as well?
That's right, there are miners here too.

What's an approximation of how many people live here?
In our community alone, and according to the official register, there are about 480 families.

Out of these, how many are miners?
An average of 30 or 40 percent.

Do these miners live here in Quiulacocha itself?
Yes they live here, but the ones who live here I’d say make up 30 per cent; the other 10% live in Cerro de Pasco but they're comuneros of this village.

Do the miners collaborate with any of the work you do here in the community?
Practically nothing. If we're talking about a faena (community, communal work), then they do participate. I guess I’d call this collaboration. But if we're talking about any other kind of collaboration then no, we don't rely on them for that. The miners have taken quite a bit from the community but they don't really think like the comuneros from Quiulacocha, but like miners.

Give me an example of what you mean.
Well, for example, the fact that they're salaried, that they live from that, and not from their work as comuneros. Their interests are different. In the conflicts with Centromin over the pollution that affects us for example, they don't respond like comuneros. They're not interested in us confronting their company. It’s their community, but it’s also their company where they work. These are understandable things.
Section 7
Do you believe that the company incites this?
For sure. It’s in their interests that we're divided; that the comuneros become miners; that the others go away and don't bother them so that they can continue their pillage. That's definitely how they think. But they're laying them off as well.

They're laying off the ones from Quiulacocha?
Yes, and others as well. They say they're going to sell the mine. New owners will come and they don't want as many miners. So they're laying people off.

And what do the miners of Quiulacocha do when they're laid off. Do they come back to the community to work?
Some yes, others no...., they go to other places, to Lima, to Huancayo, they do business. Even here there are times when they use the money they’ve earned as wages to invest in business. They open shops, restaurants etc. But it’s still not the same, there's always something different. It’s almost like they get brainwashed in the mines.

They come out changed? What do you think happens?
It’s like when young people go to serve in the army and they come back changed and don't want to do what they did before, or when they leave their villages. It’s the same with the miners, even though some of them stay on and do other things as well, other types of work.

Does this create a kind of rivalry between the ex-mining comuneros and the rest?
Not really, but it’s different.

In what sense?
It’s just different being a miner.

Apart from what you've said, what other types of work exist here in Quiulacocha?
The other jobs, that families do, is on a personal level, let's say selling meat, there are families who wash clothes in the wash houses, others who trade etc. Some also work extracting sand. I almost forgot about this, a percentage of families go to the place in Sacrafamilia to extract sand - this is also within our community boundaries and some of the community earn their living this way.

Is any food grown here in Quiulacocha?
No, they don't grow anything because unfortunately we don't have the technology neither have we had a consultant from the Ministry of Agriculture. But quite soon this year we're going to sow pastureland which will improve our livestock. But as for food, vegetables etc, nothing along those lines, it’s not been possible. Once they wanted to grow maca (small tuber like a radish with medicinal properties). It was a project during the time of the former President Alan Garcia. A committee came to plant the maca in terraces, but it didn't work because of what I said and I’ll repeat - lack of land management technicians who were meant to come and advise.
Section 8
Do you think that if you continued growing maca it could result well for Quiulacocha?
Yes, yes, yes, because it’s been proven. In Carhuamayo - which is at the same altitude - they grow maca, and our region is also very suitable. What we need is the seeds and support in terms of consultancy and then we’d be successful in harvesting the crop.

Which rivers flow near Quiulacocha?
There aren't really any rivers around Quiulacocha - they’re about 15 or 20 kilometres away and hardly contribute anything to Quiulacocha. On the other hand, we are surrounded by lakes but, as I said before, they're all polluted.

What did you say these lakes were called?
The contaminated lakes? One is Quiulacocha, which is now practically full of tailings from the mine. More recently contaminated lakes are Huaihuacocha, Yanamate, Cuchis Chico, Cuchis Grande. We're completely ruined because Centromin has contaminated every single thing.

Exactly how long has it been since the lakes were contaminated?
The last lake which was contaminated was in 1990, when Centromin wanted to industrialise the water in order to recycle it. They built a water treatment plant for the water from the mines and everything that came out of the mines they deposited in the lake of Yanamate. This wasn’t successful at all and had quite the opposite effect. The pipe that came out of the mining plant burst, it exploded and this - well I’m damned - scorched all the grass and contaminated the other lakes.

Did they use to fish in these lakes?
Yes, of course. There used to be frogs, these birds, things that you don't find now at all.

How many people, more or less, worked there fishing?
From Quiulacocha an average of two percent. But the people who fished mostly were from the districts of Cerro de Pasco, people from Uliachin, from Buenos Aires, Champarca, they also made a living by fishing in the lakes.

And what birds were there before?
There was one called the yanavico; the other main one that we had here we know as the kurco, it was a fishing bird. These are the birds that existed here.
Section 9
Are these birds edible as well?
Yes, and the wild duck. They're edible and they used to exist here in abundance.

Can you remember any dish that you used to eat from these birds?
Duck, duck stew.

Duck stew?
Yes, that's right.

You said the cooperative raised animals. What animals does it raise?
Right now it is increasing the number of sheep, mainly the Cordeale breed. It’s got cattle and alpacas. These are what we have at the moment. They are introducing a new breed, the Hampshire.

Are there small industries here in Quiulacocha?
Regrettably we don't have any.

You haven't thought about doing anything with the sheep wool?
Yes, actually, we have just installed about eight looms so we’ll be able to use or industrialise the wool; but the problem, I'll say again, is that we need [technical] assessment. Our community lacks the economic resources to contract a suitable person to teach us how to use the machines, the looms that we've installed.
We've also got a bakery. It was opened recently by our communal company. It’s working now and we hope that it will bring the good results that we all need. Also, we should also remember our company which has been going since it was created in 1972, until this day. Now it’s also got a Transport Committee which is also supporting the development of our community. But I repeat, most of their income goes towards keeping the company going and developing new breeds of cattle etc.
We are also trying to develop a clothing industry, What we have working now is small, it’s on a small scale, but that doesn’t mean it’s nothing. We’ve got people taking part but they're also doing other jobs. Anyway, we lack the industrial machines, the semi-industrial machines to really get it off the ground. Of course it exists in name. We've also got a teacher who comes to give classes but, and I’ll say it again, the technology is a little obsolete now, what we need is new machines.

Let's talk a little now about the environmental pollution. What substances have the lakes been mainly affected with?
The substance that comes out of the mines is copper oxide. Also, a while ago I told you that the lake of Quiulacocha is full of tailings. The lake’s still there but it’s covered in tailings [from the mine] and when the wind blows, everything, even the tin roofing on the houses changes colour. They are eroded [corroded?]; another thing is the dust that affects Quiulacocha on a daily basis because you have to pass through here on the way to Sacrafamilia, Rancas, Oyon; they pass through here to Lima, Quiulacocha is a central point, and since we don't have an adequate road - the councils haven’t even bothered about paving it - dust is another big problem that affects us in Quiulacocha.
Section 10
Have there been illnesses at all because of these problems?
Yes, last year, at the end of December, the medical post identified an unacceptably high rate of tuberculosis and silicosis among the population of Quiulacocha.

The air, do you think that the air the Quiulacochan inhabitants breathe is also contaminated?
Yes, because as I said, there's the tailings in the lake at Quiulacocha. And then there’s the other lake at Ocroyoc which is situated on the edge of our village... the lake at Quiulacocha was full of tailings and Centromin's solution was to transfer the waste into Ocroyoc, in Rancas territory, so now when the wind is blowing in the evenings - dammit - it smells foul, awful. The stuff that comes out of the water treatment plant, the water from the mine, is another problem.

Have you had a lot of problems with people's hair falling out?
Exactly - it’s a huge problem. Just lately the health promoter has been doing an analysis of hair and teeth because our children have a lot of cavities as a result of the contaminated water we drink.

And when they started to contaminate the water did any animals in Quiulacocha die?
Yes, we had a person by the name of Señor Soto who lived on the banks of the lake; we remember the Baldeon family, part of the Mauricio family who owned and worked their livestock. All their animals died. They even took their animals which had died from drinking the contaminated water to Centromin.

How have you organised yourselves to fight against the pollution problem?
Until a new ecology law came out, practically everything we did came to nothing. Nobody protected us against the contamination. They all said, even the Minister of Agriculture, that the mining company had these laws in their favour and they couldn't do anything against them for us. I remember really well when that guy Mendoza was minister of agriculture, we brought him here to try the water we were drinking. It’s a pathetic example that I'm giving, because in the end nothing came of it.

You told me that there are three institutions which have got together to protect you - the cooperative, the community and the local council?
That's right, lately we've made some drastic decisions to be able to defend ourselves against the pollution. They’ve recently started digging channels to carry away the waste water from the town of Cerro de Pasco and this is going to pass right through our community. As far as we can make out from the technical reports they’ve done for us, Centromin will have an open drain - can you believe it? - to channel all the waste waters from the whole town of Cerro de Pasco through Quiulacocha! It’ll all pass through Quiulacocha - how’s that going to make us feel? Because of this, we’ve all got together, we’ve paralysed their work, we’ve stood up to their heavy vehicles as a kind of alternative protest against Centromin.

And what has happened as a result of this action?
On one occasion the military restrained us, but now we’ve got an endorsement from the prefecture, an authorisation from the prefecture and against this they can't do anything, not even the armed forces or any other lawkeepers.
Section 11
How many legal battles have Quiulacocha had with Centromin?
There have been several court cases with Centromin but before, when Centromin was the Cerro de Pasco Corporation, this was when the problems started so now Centromin has... sorry, our community has had years of conflicts, years of demands both with Cerro de Pasco Corporation and now with Centromin Peru.

And out of all of the legal battles that you've had, how many have you won?
Out of all the cases we've had against Centromin and Cerro de Pasco [Corporation], practically nothing, because up until now there’s been no solution. They came with the story that they were going to move our community. They came with the story that they were going to find stable jobs for all the comuneros in their company, but so far... absolutely nothing.

There isn't a single comunero from Quiulacocha who’s working for Centromin?
Well, currently there's about 20 people working in civil construction in Huaimanta; but they’ve only got contracts for a couple of months. Big deal, considering what Centromin really owes us!

Tell me too, have none of you received any kind of help, any compensation from Centromin for the pollution?
For the pollution nothing. We’ve had leaders who have really known how to lead Quiulacocha by the hand and there was talk about were plans to build a square, there were plans to build a sports complex, considering the fact that Centromin... I mean, considering that our community was beginning to develop, to grow... Centromin offered us the proposal of moving, this was in 1989, and... after everything’s that’s happened the idea of Quiulacocha having to move was a backwards step as far as the development of our community was concerned. Until now Centromin hasn't done a thing for us, we simply waited expecting to be moved or for them to give us the Club Peruano like they have in La Oroya or Casaracra to make up for the lake and the pollution, but up to this day, nothing.

And what do people think about Centromin wanting to move the village? Do they accept the idea? What would it mean for you to leave these lands?
We've had, as I told you, a general meeting of comuneros to discuss the issue. One idea was to move us; another was to build a new town or to give us the houses that have been built in Villa de Pasco. But our community is against all this because if we accept the relocation of our community we will basically lose the value of the village, we would lose the value of the community. For this and a number of other reasons we won't accept being moved. These lands are the inheritance we’ve received from our ancestors, we don't want to lose them for anything. We want to recover from the pollution and preserve what is left of our customs. We're a working community, with a history, and this is what we want to leave our children.
Section 12
And do you remember what it was like here during the time when the Gringos owned the mines?
Well, what I remember of the gringos is that the first mineral extraction plant was here in Quiulacocha, called Quiullapata. They put it here, this was the first extraction plant of the Cerro de Pasco Corporation; subsequently they moved it to Parassha. So Quiulacocha was the original site of the gringos, because behind their backs in a place called Ocryoc - I’m really impressed by this inventiveness - they were already processing silver, with quicksilver, with the mercury as they called it.

Did the gringos actually bring any kind of progress, any kind of modernisation to Quiulacocha for you?
What do you think! Like any business, like any businessman, all they were interested in was capital, money at all social costs, nothing!

And from what you can remember, were there no advantages to having the Gringos around?
I guess, psychologically you could say there were. The gringos knew how to win the confidence of our village, of our people simply by being nice, by their ability to teach, under the guise of being able to do anything, the Gringos basically won the respect of our people... but gave nothing in return.

Did you also have problems with pollution with the gringos?
In those days yes, we had the same problems because of the Quiulacocha lake. In the recent conference held by the University about the historian Cesar Perez Arauco they talked about Lake Quiulacocha and how there used to be huge quantities of seagulls, thousands of seagulls, and how the water was used for washing clothes and for swimming in etc... But in the era of the Cerro de Pasco Corporation, when they moved the Quiulacocha extraction plant to Parassha, this was when the pollution with them began.

And with the nationalisation of Cerro, did anything change?
But with the change to Centromin nothing improved. Basically when they just started to nationalise it, when they handed the companies over to the Peruvians, the problems got worse, they simply got worse because the technology, the way that the Peruvians did their work was really against us. If the gringos had been here maybe the problem of the pollution, the water problem would have been solved by now. But there’s no doubt that the engineers you find in Centromin now, they're not so good, they’re not capable of being able to solve the problems that we have in our community.

Did Quiulacocha agree with the nationalisation of Cerro de Pasco?
In a way yes, because, clearly, the gringos took practically everything, they took the silver, the gold, they took it all, and all the capital, all the money the gringos made, none of it was invested in Peru - they invested it all elsewhere which left Peru even poorer. Since they nationalised [the mines] at least Peruvians have had the opportunity to say that this is ours - whilst almost nothing was ours until then. I just think that our national companies need trained engineers, qualified engineers so they can resolve the problems we have.
Section 13
Apart from the government, have you received any kind of benefits from Centromin?
From Centromin, in 1989, when the APRA party was in power and, if I remember rightly, Senator Sifuentes acted as a link for us to enter into dialogue with the executive president of Centromin. As part of this they made an agreement to try and reach some kind of solution to the problems our community had with the company. As a result they decided that they would do a few things for us in the community, such as [building] the sports complex and our park - this is now in their community plan. But then Centromin managed to get away with not doing anything by bringing up the issue of relocation. Our authorities responded by doing nothing to oppose them, doing other things. But as far as the works are concerned, in 1990 Centromin offered to do them, but three years later they’d practically forgotten about it. It was in that year that the environment law was passed. Then they “recharged their batteries” and started doing all kinds of work to try and keep us quiet. That’s when they made us these promises which were agreed in 1990 in Lima. It sometimes seems as if it’s the companies which rule rather than the government. But they couldn’t care less. They make promises that they never keep.
They also offered to build a milk plant. This was the milking shed [I mentioned], the milking shed, but at the end of the day, I’ll say it again, there’s no milking shed, it’s more like a shack, it’s nothing like a milk plant.

How do you see the current situation of the community in general?
On the whole, the situation of our community is on its way to a crisis, because, in the first place, there's a lot of unemployment; in the second place, the pollution. We don't have lakes, we don't have [clean] water to drink, we don't have pastureland because Centromin is committing so much harm. Recently it has been abusing a place called Antamola, they’ve got the idea that they’re going to bring another pipe from the lake to Ocroyoc, another pipe from the mine to the lake - I'll be damned! It’s a serious problem and if we wanted to take the case to court, we’d need money and since our community basically doesn’t have such a resource, we lose another chance, another opportunity for gaining respect.

Let's talk a little about cultural aspects. Has anything been written about Quiulacocha?
Yes, they've written leaflets about the history of Quiulacocha, particularly the historian, the University professor, Gallo’s his name if I remember correctly, he’s written about the history of Daniel Alcides Carrion - the father of Peruvian medicine. Our community has a book that’s been written and published by the historian Gallo in Cerro de Pasco about Daniel Alcides Carrion - he’s from Quiulacocha because his father used to work in a plant called Ocroyoc.
Section 14
Being a teacher working with young people, children, do you tell them, do you talk to them about the history of your community?
Of course. It’s important that we know our history, our past.

Does it interest them?
Yes, quite a lot. They participate and talk about what they have heard at home. We’ve organised history and folklore courses and this has shown that some people know quite a lot about their pasts. Others also talk about the present, about the lives of their families.

And the future?
Some of them think about going far away... to Lima, and other places...

Don't many of them want to stay?
I don't know...I don't remember....I would have to look it up...I don't remember very well.

You see them and are in constant contact with them, do you think that the children in your community have changed from what they were like in your time?
Quite a lot. Now they are more alive, more awake - they have so many influences. They go to the town, right here in Cerro de Pasco... there’s the television, the things they see... it’s different from what it was like before.

Are there any typical songs from your community or any other cultural displays?
Yes, of course.

Do you remember any, could you sing one or tell me the words?
I don't know. I'm not a very good singer, but there's a song that talks precisely about the polluted Lake Quiulacocha. It’s a song written by some young musicians. They’ve also got it recorded on tape so they’ll be able to remember it.

Can you remember any words from these huayanitos (traditional songs/dances)?
Just the one which goes “Polluted Lake Quiulacocha, I am watching you from here, the water that you’re drinking will soon be the end of you” - that’s all that I remember.

Maybe there have been poems as well?
Poems yes, but I’ll have to remind you that I’ve got a terrible memory for remembering these as well.

And are there any typical stories?
There are hardly any stories, except in the form of legends. There's one that tells of a Lake Concocho where people used to say that two golden lions would come out at midnight and... but they're just legends which don’t mean so much anymore.

How do you see the future of your community?
The future of my community will depend on the development of the small industries we have here, such as the bakery, such as the textiles, and maybe with the support that is given to the school. Industrially, I know that Quiulacocha will go forward for the simple reason that its people are persevering and if they propose something they achieve it. We will succeed, and, what’s more, last year we succeeded in establishing the 13 August School, to commemorate the birthday of Daniel Alcides Carrion.
Section 15
Does your community have any other aspirations ?
The aspirations of my community are to live in peace. To solve the problems of pollution, to arrive at a settlement with Centromin or with the new boss if it’s true that they’re going to sell it. If this happened, we’d be able to carry out a range of projects such as a tourist recreational centre for all the nearby villages, for the whole town of Cerro de Pasco... we're already building a sports complex, we could build a recreational centre, we could establish a proper industry, in textiles, for example, which would really benefit our community and the whole town of Cerro de Pasco. This is our ambition... and we’d also like to give a boost to our livestock company which is doing well.

Quiulacocha is a community which has been badly affected by the pollution problem and you've taken measures against it. How do you think this whole campaign against the pollution is going to end?
What Quiulacocha is proposing is that Lake Quiulacocha which is full of tailings from Centromin, be filled with earth a metre high and that they plant something in it, trees etc to prevent further contamination. Another thing is to pave the roads which, as I said, are a central thoroughfare for trucks from every direction - and up ‘till now nothing’s been done about any of this.

Is the dust a problem here?
Yes it is. The dust is very bad and if we think back to when this was the route from Cerro de Pasco to Huanuco, before the road was paved, the dust was the same day and night. It’s just the same now with the dust - it’s not even worth painting the houses. Dust is one of the worse enemies we have at the moment.

Señor Hector Lopez, before we finish this interview, is there anything else you would like to add?
Seriously, I would ask central government, through the presidential ministry, or even better through the local councils, especially the district council, to take a look at this village. I’ll say again [Quiulacocha] is just a few kilometres from the town of Cerro de Pasco; it’s a central place that is surrounded by pollution. Now that the government is claiming that it’s doing something, let it take account of the fact that we have also proposed projects which until now have been ignored. I ask that they please carry out these projects for the benefit of our children and for the development of our community. I hope that this interview will help people understand the problems that all us comuneros are living through, us comuneros who continue to go unnoticed.