photo of person from Peru Cerro de Pasco
Peru glossary


(PERU 6)








San Antonio/Yauli





Section 1
SeŮora, to begin, we would like you to tell us something about yourself.
Well, my name is Gregoria Alvarez, Iím 44 and I'm from Yauli.

You belong to this community?
Yes, just like my parents and their families, we've always been in this community although there used to be more land. They divided up the communities and some people ended up in other communities, some higher up.

They were divided up? Why was that?
The lands were huge and they werenít yielding enough. Some members of the community sold them, without clearing it with everyone else and they fell into the hands of large landowners, they say, or of companies and thatís how they got divided.

Mining companies?
Yes, and large farms that belonged to those who owned the mines.

How long ago was this?
I don't know what year it would be. My mother told me a long time ago, and so did my uncles. Itís quite a long time ago now. I remember something, but not the year exactly.

Does your family originate from this community?

Your parents, are they from this community like yourself, your grandparents?
Oh yes.... They were born here, though as I said, these fields were huge then and they were from high up. Itís called something else now. They inherited the land from their ancestors, though some of my motherís family come from Pucara, further down from Morococha - I don't know if you know it.

What did your parents tell you about life here in those days. Whatíre you heard about past life in this community?
Well, like I said, the fields were much bigger, we owned more land. The pastures were better and there were more animals. That's all.....

And about the customs in the community?
I don't know......just the same.
Section 2
What's the community called?
San Antonio.

What have you heard about the history of the community?
I don't know. The history's very old. Itís an old community dedicated above all to rearing livestock. I never knew my father. He died before I was born. My mother's the one who told me everything I know... The anniversary of the community's in October, they also have big celebrations for the national holidays, 28th July, and then Saint Anthonyís feast day in June, because he's the communityís saint.

You mean the patron saintís feast day. What day is it celebrated?
The 27th June. The national holidays start on 28th and finish on 31st. The communityís day is 22 and 23 October and itís a holiday when the comuneros bring out everything, all the things they produce - jumpers, ponchos, rugs, blankets, all kinds of weavings, they bring out hides, meat, wool, absolutely everything.

And they trade these things?
Yes, to whoever wants to buy them.

From here?
From here, they come from Pachachaca, from San Cristobal, from Pomacocha, from different neighbouring communities, they even come from Pucara, far away.

From what you know and what you've heard, have the fiestas (festivals, celebrations) and customs of the community changed with the passing of the years?
I believe so. In the old days, life for people in the community was less difficult. My mother told me she lived better with her parents. There was more livestock, more land. Now people don't want to stay in the community. If they can, they go to La Oroya, or Huancayo, or the capital. They don't even come for the fiestas. I don't even think they remember. They go and no longer think about their homeland.

Why do you think this is?
Nobody supports us. Our life isn't important to anyone, despite the fact that we produce meat for them, beans, potatoes, maca (small tuber like a radish with medicinal properties) and other things that they eat in the city. Before it was different. People stayed here. Not now. They go to study and work in the city. So we remain here alone.

And what's the main activity of the community of Yauli today? Has it changed?
Itís the same, rearing animals; some people go to work in the coal mines.

Is there a coal mine close-by.
Yes, El Volcan (Volcano)
Section 3
And are there other mines nearby?
San Cristobal, Mahr Tunnel.

Do they benefit the community in any way?
Not at all, only the people who work there. I don't know if theyíll go on working there or whether theyíve kicked them out by now. When they give to the workers, theyíre also giving something to the community, they give kerosene, everything. But now no one knows how it will be. Those who left here have gone to live at the Tunnel. Only a few of those who worked here or in El Volcan have stayed, only campesinos have stayed behind. Only those from Yauli itself have stayed, workmen, but those who were earning a salary have gone elsewhere.

To nearby villages?

What communities are near here?
Pomacocha, here on the San Mateo side. Not the community itself but the cooperative where they raise llamas, cows, alpacas.

Does your community also have a cooperative?
Yes, I grazed animals - I only stopped a week ago. On Friday at dawn five llamas were stolen from me.

You were robbed. And because of this you had to stop working?
Yes, they stopped me working.

And how much did they use to pay you?
They used to give me 200 new soles (Peruvian currency).

And was this enough to live on?

Do you have a family? Are you married?
No, we just live together.

How many children have you got?
Including the older ones, five.

And does your husband work?
Yes, he's a bricklayer.

He doesn't work on the land?

Didn't he like it, or didn't he have any success?
What happened is that the animals all perished. Before of course we both used to work in the fields, in Pomacocha, high up.

And what happened to your animals?
It was when I brought them here. When I was in Pomacocha the animal was fine, it was growing [strong]. Then I came here. And for what?
Section 4
Your animal died?
Yes, just like I said. It started spinning round, torniquera [we call it here] (livestock disease from lead poisoning). It got septicaemia, it just died, it got thinner and thinner, and then my animal was dead.

I don't know much about these illnesses, explain them to me.
With torniquera, the animal spins round and round as if itís drunk and then it falls over.

And to cure this, what do they do?
Itís very difficult to cure, you can't cure it.

And what causes it?
The fumes and all that. They say the bad grass is poisoning them. Then they get maggots, there are grasses with maggots, little leaves that grow in the damp and when the animals eat them they get maggots, and this also causes them to die - they get thinner and thinner until they die.

Do you know any way of stopping this?
With medicines we give them, it cures them if you're quick, of course it saves them, but if it has already got them, you can't do anything.

Have you lost many animals?
I brought 30 sheep and 14 llamas from Pomacocha.

And all of them have died?
All of them.

They got torniquera and septicaemia?
Yes, septicaemiaís an illness that creates a lot of yellow liquid in the animals belly and with this they die, just getting thinner.

And what causes septicaemia?
Itís caused by bad grass, or rather by dog muck. And the fumes. Yes, the fumes give them torniquera, the sheep get sick from the fumes and start spinning round and round, like drunkards. When people go to La Oroya, down there by the foundry, when itís full of fumes it makes them sick, they get headaches, just like the animals. They begin going round and round, crying and doubling up in pain.

Has this happened to many members of the community?
Yes, to a number of us. We all get like that when the fumes are really thick.

And where do the fumes come from?
La Oroya, itís pumped out of the foundry of the Centromin company.

And this contaminates the grass, the fumes from La Oroya?
That's right.
Section 5
Since when have this been going on?
For years now, since when I was a little girl, since the gringos (westerners, foreigners, in this context North Americans who ran/owned the mines) arrived at the mines. They've been pumping out fumes since I was a little girl, that's why people from the community have been to complain to La Oroya. Because when they pump out the fumes, itís like itís going to rain, there are clouds wherever you look and you can't see the sun.

And has it made you all ill as well.
Yes, people have had head aches, everything. Itís given us aches, flu, rheumatism in the head. I don't know what they call it but itís made us ill.

And when did your community present its complain to the company?
A while ago now, it stopped pumping out smoke, and they say they got money for it, I don't know how much they got for losing their animals because of the fumes.

Is your community organised?
Yes, but it doesn't seem to make any difference.

Youíre a member of the community. What does it mean to be a member of the community?
I was a member in Pomacocha and when I came to Yauli I also became one, but my animal died and I don't know what to do. I don't have the strength now to start all over again. I hope the other comuneros (registered community member with rights and responsibilities) come to my aid. Being a comunero means you have to give and receive, take part in communal work. You have to look after the community land and the livestock and you have your own land and your own animals. Now I no longer have any animals, just land, but without livestock itís useless.

How are you managing to survive now?
When they ask me, I go and graze the sheep. When I'm at home I wash clothes, mend stockings and people's clothes, things like that.

And your partner, what does he do?
He's a builder, but what he earns doesnít support us because some people don't pay on time and some people don't pay at all and they get away with it by saying "tomorrow we'll pay you" or "later" or "next week" and they don't pay. Many of them owe money to my partner.

Are your parents alive?
No, just my mother. I never knew my father, before I was even aware of my mother, my father died in the army, in Lima. My uncles also went to neighbouring communities because there was nothing for them here and their animals were dying.

What happened with their animals?
They died as well, that's why my uncle went to Pomacocha, because lots of his animals died. In Pomacocha there's not so many black fumes, the grass is better there. Yes, my uncle went from here to stay in Pomacocha, he's been there ever since, he hasn't come back here.
Section 6
How far from here is Pomacocha?
It's up there, over there in the hills you can see in front of you...

Walking, how long does it take?
Walking.... about four hours, taking it slowly.

Does it also belong to here, to the community of Yauli?
Yes, itís a part of Yauli.
[In many cases the communities are divided into annexes. This is the case of Pomacocha and of San Antonio which belong to Yauli]

So why did you come to Yauli if the pollution's worse and affects your animals?
Why...? So my children could go to school.

Isn't there a school in Pomacocha?
Yes, there's a school, but at the time they weren't taught very well, there wasn't a reliable teacher.

Do your children study here in the school?
Yes, I came here so they could study, because there wasn't a reliable teacher in Pomacocha. There were teachers but they taught there for two or three days and then went. The teaching was bad and the children weren't learning anything, you see.

Did you study?
What me? Just until second year of primary, that's all.

Why didn't you continue to study?
Because I couldn't afford to. My grandmother paid for me to go to school. My mother did what she could to help my grandmother as well, but then my brother came along and they took me out of school, preferring to pay for my brother as he was the boy.

Ah, so they preferred to send your brother to school because he was male?
Yes, they told me thatís enough for you. You're a woman, you have to get on with your life now, now you've learnt something, at least you can sign your name and you've learnt how to read. Thatís enough, now we're going to help your brother study.

Was this customary before?
Yes, because this was what the older people thought. Men ought to study more than the women because they would be the ones who worked and become heads of families and the community.

And what do you think?
About what?

Do you agree with what the elders thought, about the preference for men to study over women?
Not really, no. It should have been necessary for me to go on with my studies. There are lots of women who're heads of families in this community, widows and single mothers. Likewise, if you decide to go to the city itís important to know how to read and write and to have qualifications, isn't it? Itís important for everybody to study.
Section 7
Is it still the same now, or has it changed? Do women study more than before, the same as men?
Now itís obligatory for everyone to go to school. Parents think itís important that their children study. In contrast, before this wasn't so, many people were only bothered about playing and they didn't study. Take my mother for example, she didn't care whether her children studied or not. If you want to study then study, if not then don't, she used to say. So as far as I was the same way they never made me go to school at all. When I was 12, a law was passed saying everyone must go to school. The police came and went from house to house looking for people who didn't send their children to school, those who hadn't enrolled that year. They said to my grandmother, "What relation is this child to you? Is her father alive?" - "No, her mother yes, but she doesn't have any way of supporting her. That's why I have her," my grandmother told him. So he said to her, "And are you making her study?" - "No" - "And now, are you going to make her study?" - "No". (She told him the truth as she didn't have the means). At this point he said, "No, this year itís obligatory. You have to send her to school and if you don't enrol her and you don't put her in the school then you'll be punished, we'll lock you up for 48 hours."

Forty-eight hours in prison?
That's right. "You have to make it possible for your grandchild to study, she has to learn how to make write a bit at least, at least sign her name, add up, things like that. If not, how's she going to survive. Itís not a bad thing, this,Ē he told her.

And as a result of this they made you study?
That's right, that's why they made me study - that's why my grandmother sent me to school. If not, I would never have studied and would have ended up just like my mother, because my mother never went to school, neither did my grandmother.

And your friends, other people of your age didn't go to school either in these times.
No, they didn't study. Many of them started to study like me when they were much older because the police ordered them to do so...they made it compulsory for everyone to send their children to school.

And has this changed, what's happened with your children.
Here I have five, four girls and a boy. Gilmer is my son. The oldest is called Eulalia, the youngest Genova, the other's called Hilda and the little one Elizabeth.

How old are they.
The oldest is 21.

Is she studying?
No, she doesn't study, she's a single mother.

What happened?
She....well, I put her in school. She was doing very well, she was still studying
here with the teacher called Mamani - then she started to get headaches, but I went on insisting. But I was poor and couldnít really afford it.. From the same thing my animalís just died of - thatís what she had begun to suffer from, and she complained all the time, in school as well. She suffered from the attacks for two years and was doubled up in pain all over the place. So we took her out of school until I could find a way of making her better, until she was healthy again, but it took years. From here, she started to work, she got a job and thatís when everything went wrong - she got pregnant. So sheís a single mother. The husband didn't acknowledge the baby at all.
Section 8
She stopped studying because of the illness that she had?
Yes, and because she got pregnant, she didn't go back.

And who took responsibility for the baby?
I looked for whatever means I could and the members of the community who know how poor I am, helped me with a few things and they said, "take this for your little baby", people gave me things from here and there. My poor little girl got ill and the people said, "Poor little thing, what will this poor child eat, here, take this food". One person gave me one thing and someone else gave me something else because I do everybody's washing so they know me. For my grandchild you see, I mend clothes, and so....

It's a girl?
Yes, a girl.

And your second daughter?
That's Genova, she's 17 now.

Is she studying?
She stopped at the third grade but she knows more than the older one.

Why didn't she continue studying?
She knows how to read, she can add up, everything. But she stopped studying because we couldn't afford it and by this time my partner had taken to the vice of alcohol. He drank every day, more and more and we couldn't afford what they asked for at the school, the fees, what they needed for activities... that's why my son also got left behind. He was in the third grade along with his friends, but now he's back in the first grade. He spent a year without studying, last year he didn't study at all. Why? Itís his fathers fault! Because his father's more concerned with drinking.

Would you have preferred it if your daughters had studied until they'd finished their secondary school?
Of course, but it wasn't possible. It would've been good if they'd continued studying, not like me, not knowing much. Their friends who went on studying have gone now and they're doing better I believe. But their father didn't help me and he just kept on drinking. He became an alcoholic. On my own, poor as I am, I haven't been able to put them through school.
Section 9
Do you think men in the community have more openings than women?
In a way yes.

For example?
They've been able to study. Their parents sent them to school. The same thing happens with work.

They find work easily?

Can a woman be a comunera?
Yes, if she's widowed or if her parents die, she'll inherit land and livestock.

Has a woman in your community ever held a position of authority?
No, this never. Only men.

How else do you believe women are in a disadvantaged position in relation to men?
Because men can do what they want and it doesn't matter. For example, if they get drunk, it's not seen as bad. A drunk woman's a lost woman. A single mother's disgraced all her life. The men have children all over the place. They hit their women when they're drunk. A drunken woman's incurably bad.

Do people drink a lot here?
They drink a lot. My partner too - he drinks everyday. My son doesn't have anything for his school lunches. And him a drunkard! That's why he missed a year. Last year I didn't even have enough to buy his school books - I didn't have anything and so I couldn't enrol him. That's why this year I had to go out to the pastures myself, because if not, what was I going to do? I couldn't just sit watching his father could I?

Do they drink a lot in the fiestas?
Not just on fiestas, any old day. Now he's gone to Pomacocha itís less, itís just when he comes back here [that he starts]. Right now you won't find him here, he's in Pomacocha. He used to drink too much, everyday he drank. I was so angry! Every single day! He'd go out in the mornings, get work and ask for the money in advance, begging and begging for money, he drank so much. Then, to make up for it, he'd work two days, three days and then that'd be it. But now people have seen how bad he is and.....
So I had to go and collect the children. Theyíd be crying with hunger. They were much smaller then, my little baby was even more tiny. children used to cry with pain because there was nothing even to cook, nothing. That's why I started to go out to the pastures to graze, what else could I do? So my son could study, I had to turn to the fields, so that only recently have I been able to send him to school.
When I first went out to graze, I went up there, to Arapa, that's what I did so he could go to school. The owner of the sheep I was grazing helped me with his things. I didn't earn very much there. The owner is president of the community and he told me, "SeŮorita, you know, if it was just my animals, I'd give you more money, but as we're all together, all brothers, itís not possible. So, itís better if you go to the cooperative, there you're going to earn more. Go and graze the sheep there and you'll earn 200". That's why I've come here.
We've been fine here until now, but now I've been robbed and I've lost my job. Who would've come this high up? The path was snowy and beautiful this morning, winding up and down. Someone had removed the stones from the wall fencing, theyíd taken out the beautiful stones and stolen all the animals.
Section 10
You weren't there?
I was, but I didn't hear anything. The president said to me, "No, no, if this carries on weíll lose all our animals, so its better if I look after them". He took his animals away. And now other members of the community have said: "Why do you have to give up working for the president? If he himself found the footprints, if he himself saw the track, all the evidence of the thief, then why are you having to give up your work? Now, if there hadn't been any footsteps, if he hadnít seen anything then he could have said that the seŮora herself was selling [the animals] or the seŮora herself was the one who was doing it. But if he actually saw it himself, then he didn't have any right to stop the work." That's what they said to me. But since that day I haven't seen the president. I don't know what I'm going to do! And my animals have all gone!

And how long is it since they finished?
Six months ago. Just after I arrived here. That same month they started to get thinner, to escape, to go walking around - they didn't want to be here. A lot of them escaped to Pomacocha as they were used to being there.

And here they got torniquera?

And does it hurt you to have lost them?
Of course! Can't you see that I support myself with my animals? Even today I'm walking around feeling down.

And you blame the grass?
And also I regret having come from Pomacocha to here. I was doing okay in Pomacocha.

Do you know what contaminated the grass?
The pollution as much as anything.

And what are the rivers like?
They are dirty with the water from the mines, the minerals that flow down from the mines.

Does this affect the livestock?
Of course, when they drink the water they get what we call maniota (lead poisoning) and when it gets inside it harms them.

What's maniota?
The animal's stomach swells up. They die in this way, with swollen stomachs.
Section 11
Did this happen to your animals as well?
No, because I didn't take them there, I've had them here in this part above the water pipe.

But they ate the grass?
The grass, oh yes.

And you didn't go to the community to warn them?
No, I didn't tell them anything.

And if youíd have said, wouldn't they have helped you?
I don't think so, no. Itís for pleasure, they don't help anyone. Even though animals of many community members have died, they don't give them any help at all. At the most they might bring medicines to sell to them. But they don't have a lot to help people with.

They sell medicines?
Yes, they bring medicine and every comunero buys it. They bring the medicine from Junin, they bring ďterramicinaĒ and other medicines for which I don't know the names, they bring big tablets for the animals, and in gallons as well. They bring stuff for diarrhoea too. This diarrhoea, I've seen them get it from the water with the minerals they drink. When I was grazing sheep I had to go a long way down to the meadows. Down there the lambs would run [to the river] when they got thirsty, they'd drink and they'd get diarrhoea. I've seen it. And for this they also bring big tablets.

And do you administer the medicine yourselves?
No, the same comuneros treat your animal. We just inform them when they're ill and that's all. They know what type of medicine they have to give, what it has and what's going to make the animal better.

You said the fumes have been coming for years, since you were a small child?
Yes, since the gringos.

Since it was the Cerro de Pasco [Corporation]?
Yes, they were the landowners. They occupied the whole area, they used all the fields, not the ones here in Yauli. Here in Yauli, they only used this part of the river no more. They had the land right up to the top, up to Pomacocha, they pushed all the people aside, everyone from San Cristobal, from Pancash. They used all this for their sheep because they were big landowners, they'd plenty for their cows. That's why they built their huts in Cerro de Pasco. Their leaders were known to live there, the ones who watched over the shepherds.
The communities of Yauli and its annexes fought with Cerro de Pasco to retrieve their land and continue grazing their animals, because the gringos wanted to get rid of them and leave them without land. They divided them. Finally they managed to get something back though it wasn't much in comparison with what they were after. They gave up the land and left with their animals, though I think they were already contaminated.
The same happened in Pomacocha as well, they invaded the fields with their animals, setting up their tents they were. There were fights too and eventually they gave up the lands. It happened here too and at Vioscas, the same thing happened.
Section 12
What livestock did they have?
They had horses, cows, goats, llamas, alpacas and lots of beautiful sheep.

How long ago was this.
Uff! When I was a child! I was 8 or 9 years old.

And did they treat you badly?
Yes, when we went by with our animals they trampled over us, because their leaders rode on horses!

Yes. Once when I was with my godmother - my godmother used to live in the pampas - I don't know who it was who left their animal on the bridge but in front of us there was a Cerro de Pasco camp. A whole procession came out from here and when they found the sheep, they dragged it kicking to their farm where they locked it up saying it was ďfor damagesĒ.

For damages?
Yes, they locked it up and when the owner came they took money for damages saying, "I found your animal grazing on my land and if you want it back you have to pay!" He took the money. And if he hadn't paid then they'd have taken it for their own. If you wanted to hold onto your animal, you were forced to pay, otherwise they'd take it, that's the way it was.

Did this ever happen to your family?
No. My uncle had his animals up there in the hills, his animals grazed over there. Here in the village is where this happened.

Was Cerro also a mining company?
Yes, it was a mining company. It was a huge company. All San Cristobal was Cerro, not Centromin. La Oroya, Mahr Tunnel, Morococha, all this was Cerro de Pasco of the gringos...

How did you get on with Cerro de Pasco?
We didn't get on at all. The comuneros fought a lot for the land, because they were bad, they didn't want the animals there.

And when they nationalised Cerro de Pasco Corporation and converted it to Centromin, did any of these things change?
From then on people lived peacefully, more peacefully now that theyíve got their land. But the fumes didnít stop and continued to harm the animals.
Section 13
They continued to harm the animals? Didn't they do anything to prevent the contamination?
No. Its always bad. And that's why my animals died and those of other comuneros. That's why people prefer to go, up there to the mountains or to the city, abandoning everything. Because the smoke doesn't leave the air very pure and the grass is now yellow, its not as green and that's why the animals get ill. The grass is only beautiful green in patches. In this respect, nothingís really changed. Only that now, Centromin doesn't try to kick us off the land.

But they still cause the pollution?
Yes, with the fumes and the water.

If the boss of Centromin was here what would you ask from him?
I'd ask him to stop pumping out fumes. But I donít think the fumes will go on for much longer because I've heard talk that the comuneros are going to go and complain, that's what they're saying. They'll have been now, or will be going soon, I don't know. The comuneros are going to go to La Oroya to complain - we havenít heard back from them yet.

If there wasn't this problem with the fumes, would you go back to having your animals?
Of course. If I could buy them, because at the moment I don't have anything. I'd love to return to grazing animals and help my children so they can study and so I can leave them with animals when I die.

What do you want for your children?
Whatever profession they take up. It could be teacher, doctor, mechanic, musician.

Yes, my young boy likes music and wants to learn and as he plays in a band here in the school he says, "I can go to learn". He made his father buy a requinto (small guitar) and he said, "Can I [join the band] daddy? Why don't you talk to the director of the band so I can go and play my requinto. And when they teach me, Iíll easily be able to play it" He likes music a lot.

And your other daughters? The baby for example?
For her? I'd like her to be an artist. Now my daughter Genova also wants to be an artist, she likes it.

She's 17 isn't she?

But she stopped studying?
She wanted to work on the radio - they were looking for singers. She went and they tested her voice and said it was good. Two boys and two girls went from Yauli and out of them just one boy stayed and is still there now. Genova came back. The boy stayed as a singer and is now bringing out recordings. It'd be good if they were artists, singers.
Section 14
Are there artists here in the community?
Yes, Claudio Chirinos "Andean Heart from the Mahr Tunnel" has a group and they've done some recordings. I hope Genova has the same luck as she wants to be a singer. I don't know....On the other hand my oldest one [will never make it] because she doesn't know how to read.

What were the young people like before?
They were quite quiet, quite modest - now, on the other hand they're more awake. They know more, even the small ones are more lively and all kinds of things are going on. That's why my little boy, even at his tender age wants to join the band and all that. But before no, it didn't bother them, for example my brother wasn't bothered about anything - even when they asked him to play the cornet on the national holidays, he wasn't pleased, he didn't want to play.

What are the children like now?
There's no respect now, nothing. Now they're all bad, rude, and neither greet or respect their elders. Before at least we were respectful, we knew how to address older people: ďGood Morning, Good AfternoonĒ, we'd say. Not now! They don't know any of this now. They come dashing out of school, pushing and shoving. No, there's no respect any more. Theyíre out in the street talking about I donít know what, playing I donít know what. It didnít used to be like that We came out of school and went straight home. If we passed someone in the street we were respectful. If a mother came into the room, we'd all stand up. But now they don't do any of this.

Your son Gilmer doesn't do this?
Not now.

And why don't you tell him to do it?
He only does it when I tell him. The others don't do it so he just follows their example. Of course, I tell him people must be greeted, respected. He'll do it a few times and then forget.. The children don't have any respect these days. In contrast, before, when our mothers told us we had to greet people, we had to be respectful, we were respectful, we greeted everybody. But now no. Itís all in vain.

Would you like your children to be farmers?
Yes, and also for them to have animals. But with these fumes the animals would die. What's going to live! If they complain and get rid of the smoke, maybe. If things change and get better perhaps.

Are the people from Centromin different from those of Cerro de Pasco?
No, they're the same. They are not as bad, but the Gringos from Cerro were very bad. They pumped out thick fumes, at least now itís less. Now itís different. And they don't rob us of our land or throw us off.

Moving on to another theme, what typical foods do you have?
Well...we have pachamanca (meat and vegetables cooked in underground ovens), trout from Pomacocha, patasca (traditional soup) soup prepared with corn and various meats and a few other things.
Section 15
What fish are there around here?
Here there's nothing because the water's so dirty from the mines. Further up in the annexes of Pomacocha there's trout. They say we're going to have them here as well but I don't know if it'll be trout or what it'll be. The mayor said they're going to put them here as well now.

A trout farm?
Yes, he says they're going to get the water flowing from up there and they're going to dam it.

But isn't this water contaminated?
No, because it comes from right up high, its clean water up there, that 's why everybody goes to bathe there.

Are the rivers contaminated?
Yes, they're completely useless.

And do you know the mayor?
Yes, we always give him a glass of milk when he comes to the community. Now the community is doing better and thanks to the mayor there's a doctor on the local council who treats us for free, and there's medicines too, everything.

And you think this is good?
Since the mayor came there's everything - there's radio here, telephone, there's everything here!

Do you have any contact with the government?
Iím not sure. Iím not informed about these things.

You don't receive any help from the government?
Yes, here in the school they gave out shoes to the pupils, they donated them so we could hand them out to the pupils, the poor ones. Not children of people who work in the mines, no, they just gave them to the poor people. Then they say they were going to give folders, they were going to give help to the community, but up to now, nothing. What would it be like? It'd be great to receive help so I could work and educate my children, wouldn't it?

Do you think the government could help you reduce the pollution from the mines?

The fumes?
Yes, of course, that'd be great. But they've never done it. We complain to the company ourselves. It'd be great if the government listened to the comuneros. This would help us a lot, because the mining company doesn't do anything. They've never done anything. Now they're saying new owners are going to come because they're going to sell Centromin. Let's hope the gringos from Cerro don't return.
Section 16
What about others? Would you agree if other people came in to take over the local mines, like they did before?

Because it was worse then, they told me. That's when all the problems started. I'd prefer it if nobody came, that they sorted out the pollution. Before there weren't any fumes.

You said that today people trade textiles and meat, did they used to do this before?
Yes, from before. They do this on the anniversary of the community.

Always the same, or has it changed?
Just the same, itís a custom. The comuneros come from Pucara and here they have competitions, weaving competitions, trading meat, they do everything.

But is the sale the same?
No, now they sell very little as there aren't many people. Now few people come and what they pay is little. As they get so little and theyíre not paid until afterwards... itís not such a big thing. Before, yes. Before people bought lots, theyíd take away wool , meat... not now.

And why do you think it's changed?
Because they pay the workers whatever day they like and in instalments as opposed to before when they were paid on a fixed day, every fortnight on a Friday. Now they pay monthly, or every two or three months and they give it in advance, sometimes they pay it all at once and other times they just give it as an advance. You never know when and as a result the traders don't make much money.

And are people leaving their land to go away from Yauli?
People are leaving because there's not enough good land, livestock, food.

And where do they go?
To different places, Lima, Huancayo, Chosica, I don't know...

And do they come back?
A few, but most never return.

And their properties, they abandon their house for example?
No, some people let them out to other people so they can look after them and others just leave everything. There are families that abandon everything. My uncle for example abandoned everything in his house, and hasn't returned and he left his animals with a shepherd in Pomacocha, now he doesn't come back. And if he came back, heíd just sell it but he never comes home and now I'm living here.
Section 17
And is the population of your community decreasing or increasing?
More or less the same, though I think itís decreasing. People go, but then children are being born aren't they? I don't know how many people there are altogether in Yauli and the annexes.
Well seŮor, time's passed quickly. Thanks for the chat and I hope it can help overcome some of our problems.

Thank you seŮora Gregoria Alvarez, for this pleasant conversation and your important testimony, and with luck, the problems will eventually be solved.