photo of person from Peru Cerro de Pasco
Peru glossary


(PERU 8)






campesino leader







Section 1
Señor, could you tell us your name and something about yourself?
Well, my name is León Meneses Vargas and I'm Director of the Peru Campesina Confederation and just recently I've become President of the Committee for Communal Development in the Province of Churcampa.

And which community are you from?
My community is the campesina community of Pamparca - the oldest, in fact, in the area. The community has existed for 212 years, that's means since before Independence, since the time of the Spanish.

Could you tell us where the community is located exactly?
It’s on the edge of the Cobriza hill, part of what's known today as the Cobriza mine of Centromin. The surface area of the mine covers part of the land which was taken away from the community, a total of 500 hectares of land from the campesina community of Pamparca and above that you have the community itself - my community. This whole prairie was my community once but Centromin Peru has been working here now for almost 30 years, extracting minerals.

Does the community belong to the Department of Huancavelica?
Yes, exactly. Before it was the Province of Tayacaja, now we're the Province of Churcampa in the Department of Huancavelica.

Tell me Señor, how old are you?
I'm 51.

Have you lived in the community of Pamparca all your life?
Well I've lived... I mean I was born in this village, but my parents were almost foreigners - they came from Cuzco, where I'm told my grandfather lived in a hacienda (estate farm). My father married my mother in Pamparca but he was from another village. My mother was also from another place. I was born here.

Very interesting, but how did your parents end up here in Pamparca?
Well, it seems that they came with the guerrillas, you know, the groups of people from Peru who during the war with Chile would go from village to village fighting the Chilean invaders. That's what it was like during the war with Chile. And so that's how they ended up here and a number of families stayed here in Pamparca; others went to Huanta and Ayacucho. It was something like that, so my parents told me, that's how they came. That’s how we came to be born here. And as a child I saw my father cry. My father was so poor then and he’d ask why, why are there so many differences, so much poverty? Why do others have everything and him nothing? This made an impression on me. So, at the age of 13 or 14, I left with this on my mind, to find an alternative, to find a way to change the way of life for the poor. I left my community with the aim of one day returning with a new idea for my community.
Section 2
Where did you go?
I went to Lima. I was in Lima studying and I got married there and then returned in 1980 with another way of looking at things, and the children had come by then,....

And what age were you when you left the community again?
I must have been 35, something like that, almost 40.

And you returned again later?
Yes, when I was about 38 I came back. I wanted to return, I wasn't going to stay in Lima, I wanted to return to my community and I did.

Did your community seem strange to your family?
Yes and its history too. My community's very rich in history and customs.

Tell me something so I can know a little about the history of your community, which as you told me earlier is quite old, 212 years I believe. What did your parents tell you about the customs that existed in your community before?
Well, the customs of my community....they mainly come from the Spanish, their fiestas and all that, and clearly we've lost the customs more than ever with the mining company of Centromin. Earlier, we spoke mainly Quechua, we didn't use Spanish. Quechua that's all. And there was so much of what we call artisania (handicrafts), wool obviously, wool from the sheep, wool from vicuñas (animal prized for its wool; nowadays shearing of its wool is prohibited). These days nobody ever uses wool from vicuñas, not for shawls or anything, it’s prohibited to wear a shawl from vicuña wool.

Why did this happen?
Because they banned it. Now you can't make anything and you have to buy things made in the cities.

What fiestas (festivals, celebrations) do you celebrate?
Well, in my community the biggest fiesta is 20th December, the [feast of] Virgin Most Pure. We live in the land of the Virgin most pure... my community's the oldest and there's the district of San Pedro of Coris which is almost like the son of my community. The mother, my community was left behind and there are other communities that are advancing [more]. We have our own old land titles and until now nobody in the other campesina communities has had titles.

And what's the reason for this backwardness?
Well, to be frank about it, it’s a mining area where Centromin Cobriza - and much earlier the mine of Santa Rosa - has affected us with their tailings and never given us anything in return. Centromin Cobriza has been extracting minerals for more than 30 years from the Cobriza [hill] and for as many as 25 years in Pampa de Gallos where they've taken away 500 hectares of our land - where they refine copper. They extract 10 000 tonnes of copper every day, and what's more, with all this refining, with all the dust from the copper, the cultivable land in our region is being destroyed in great tracts. The campesina communities don't deserve this at all. That's why we want Centromin Cobriza to pay mining levies, we want them to pay us what they owe us. And I don't just mean for our community, this mining tax. I'm very broad minded and I believe the whole province, and others as well [should benefit]. What have they left us? In the first, the second, the third stage....what's left for us? Where, I mean, and we're talking about poor communities, where have they got electricity? They don't have anything, absolutely nothing.
When I came back in 1980 I began to negotiate with Centromin about them having taken Pampa de Gallos from us. And now in Pampa de Gallos, as I said earlier, they're refining 10 000 tonnes of copper a day and they don't give us a thing. I asked them for some support for my community and for the other communities as well. It was them who accused me in 1982... There are people here who don't understand, [people] who work for the company, enemies of the future, [people who are] against development... Because, you know, nearly 70 per cent of young people from the communities, despite all the wealth we have here, the wealth they’re extracting from the Cobriza [mine] which we don't get any of, in times of struggle [these young people still] go to Lima, to struggle in the slums, to suffer hunger and all the rest of it. This is the migration from the country to the city which is doing so much harm to our communities.. I knew this. That's why I came back.
Section 3
And do you remember what your community was like before the exploitation of the mines began. What things do you think have changed?
Before mining, there was more solidarity in my community, we were more united, there was an understanding. We celebrated fiestas such as the one in Pampa which they took away from us. We used to have a lot of [sugar] cane in our community which they’d make into chicha (liquor made from maize) for [everyone in] the community on 28 July, and we’d drink it [in celebration of] a year’s work.

And has all this changed?
There's nothing now. They don't drink chicha, we don't even know what sugar cane is, absolutely nothing, nobody... despite the fact that... well, my campesina community Pamparca has really been deceived. Through ignorance and lack of principles the community has been deceived by a story about setting up a communal company which was going to exclusively benefit the campesina community, Centromin was going to handle it all - they got us to sign the document. [But] the company, Centromin, produced a false document, with the story that they were going to give us a communal company which they'd manage for the community in order to have real development. They deceived us and later it turned out they'd got us to sign for the sale of the Pampa de Gallos land. So they ended up giving us a few soles (Peruvian currency) for the land, that's all. But with the community law which we have, the new law, the constitutional law that is, [the one which says that] the land cannot be used for commercial purposes and all that, just a while back we were given this document and I had a good look at it. Frankly, there's no possible way that Centromin could have legally acquired that land.
Section 4
And how long has Centromin Peru been in this region?
26 years now they've been here, refining copper.

And what did you produce before?
Here in Pampa we used to produce sugar cane, there were vegetables, fruits, bananas, oranges, papaya, yucca, sweet potatoes.

And now what do you produce?
Well Centromin produces refined copper

Yes, but you as a farming community?
We're just here, with the copper dust that's ruining our land, that's about it....none of this area produces anything now, we're just at the point of doing some... planting, we're coming up to that season now, but we can't produce maize any more, and as if this wasn’t enough, we’ve recently had the problem of the El Nino...there's no rain now, there's nothing. The communities are becoming quite frankly, just full of old people, that's all. The young people go to the cities.

The young people are leaving the community?
Exactly, that's why as I said earlier, you'll find nearly 70 per cent of our community outside the community, in Lima, others in Huancayo, others in Chanchamayo, and frankly..

So the settlement is being abandoned?
Yes, abandoned.

And at the moment, how many of you are there, more or less?
Well, there's nearly 70 families and the majority are in Lima and elsewhere.

And were there many more before?
Yes before there were a lot more, at least 500 families of Pampalquinas in total if they were all counted together.

Have any members of your community gone to work in the Cobriza mines?
Yes, some have gone into the mines, but very few young people.

And these people, when they go to work in Cobriza, Centromin, do they return?
Yes, they return, but they forget, or rather....

They stop being comuneros (registered community members with rights and responsibilities), they come back as miners, and they forget the ways of their community, they change...?
Yes, yes, when they get a little bit of money they forget about their community, frankly, they become more like foreigners or people from the coast. It’s very strange... and it’s not just here. It seems to be the same in every community. People come back different and there are very few of us who want any kind of development.
Section 5
And why do you think this is?
Well, because of the fact that... I mean... I think every government should provide ... what I mean is that since the foreigners came along, we’ve lost our customs, our culture and quite frankly even our own huaynitos (traditional songs/dances). No-one sings our songs anymore, people can’t dance. What's worse though is that the foreign culture is taking over, they dance rock here, they dance chicha (a mixture of tropical and traditional music), the result being that we're losing our sense of community completely, and my community and this whole area, more than anything the Huanca (a Peruvian Indian culture) culture is being penetrated [from outside]. People don't even dance to their traditional songs any more. Everything is being lost for ever.
Before we used to use our wool, sheep wool, alpaca wool, llama wool, for jumpers, and now we don't any more. Now it’s all plastic and foreign dyes. Before I used to know the natural dyes, from plants, which were hard to fade. Now everything's plastic and the dyes all synthetic, synthetic wool which has to be used for jumpers and there's no real wool now, now there's no wool. Very occasionally they still use lambs wool but quite frankly it's looked down on these days.

And are you also a livestock rearing community?
Livestock - there's not much of it. There's some animals here but not a lot. There are people who live higher up who rear animals, but, how can I say it, basically the government, especially the Ministry of Agriculture, hasn't given us any concrete training in the way we should rear livestock, or how we should improve the livestock. On the higher ground we have livestock, a small amount, a few sheep and things, but there’s no way of bringing back this way of life for the campesinos. There are campesinos who rear up to 10 breeds of animals, they have sheep, llamas, ducks, horses, mules, hens, dogs, cats, they've got rabbits,...but none of them have any practical training.

You told me that a short while ago you left the community and went to Lima. How long did you spend there, more or less?
14, 13 years.

What made you go to Lima?
Well, I'd seen my father cry, because he was very poor and how was grandfather used to live on a hacienda (estate farm) of 2000 hectares, where the Peña family lived, it belonged to the Peña family.

What area was this in?
In Churchampa mainly, that’s where they had the hacienda, [but they had land] here, there, all over the place, and my grandfather used to work for them, and as they were foreigners... my father arrived in his community Pamparca as a son-in-law, and so we were born here. I'm the third child.

Son-in-law. Who did he marry?
He married my mother.
Section 6
Was she from this community?
Yes, she was from the community.

Is it easy to integrate into your community, how does someone stop being a member of the community, how do you become a member of the community?
Well, before you could only become a member of the community if you met certain requirements.

Such as?
For example, you had to be an active comunero for at least a year. You had to behave according to the laws of the campesina community.

They had to work for the community?
Of course, they had to work, but they also say that... according to the statute, there’s no community in the region....the correct training for a comunero, the main thing is for him to be involved in cooperative production.

So, your father arrived at the community and he was admitted into the community, they accepted him because he began to work for a year in the community, he respected the statutes etc - and did they give him land?
Well, most of us poor people haven’t received land as such... this is what I wanted to say. The way things happen here isn't the way it should be according to the statute; there are rich campesinos, there are average campesinos, there are poor campesinos. The rich campesinos are the ones who have most say around here.

Isn't everything equal inside the community?
It’s not all equal and this is the problem, the ownership of land.

For example then, what's a rich campesino?
Well, he’s the one with the best lands, the best cattle, the one who wants to order everybody about here in the community. And often they've no respect, they frequently cause problems.

Don't the poor campesinos have any land?
The poor campesinos have to be subjects of the rich campesinos.

So they work for the rich campesinos?
Of course, the communal faenas (community, communual work) hardly ever benefit the poor campesinos, they just make the rich ones richer.

Do they pay you a wage?
Well no, communities don't receive any money, so when you work on their small-holdings, naturally they pay you a minimum wage, 3 soles, 4 soles. They give you a bit of food in the day but that’s more or less it. [People are] marginalised in the following way: sometimes us foreigners aren't as capable and it was for this reason that I saw my father cry in his own way, because he was a poor campesino. They treated him very badly. Every now and again they'd throw him in jail and he’d be judged by others who had land. Then there was a trial, there was a boss who’d gather up the poor people as if they were slaves and make them work. So my father was going to leave the community, but I told him it was better if he didn't go anywhere. It was better for me to go and one day I'd return and I was going to get him out of everything which had been so bad for him. That's why I went. So I left and I married the daughter of my father-in-law.
Section 7
Was he also from the community?
He was a comunero. I don't know if it was just a story [but they say that] that my father-in-law bought his hacienda with money belonging to the community and so his children... in those times... So rightly I married and I can't deny it although they stopped my speaking about the things they did, one has to be fair in all this, about how one comes to be rich among poor people. So for this reason I married the daughter of my father-in-law who kicked up a huge fuss and all that. So I came back in 1980 and took over the presidency of my community. No one thought I would last long.

You were president of the community?
Yes, I arrived in my community in 1980 and in 1981 I became president.

Tell me one thing. When you went to Lima was it a big change for you from your community. What about your life changed most living in a city like Lima?
Well there was a change, or rather we... when I was in the second year of primary school things were different - we used to have to study through ‘til Saturday, and more... things like that.

And was there a school in your community then?
No, there wasn't any school.

You went to Lima to study?
I went to Lima to study, to go to university, and one day to return to my land because I'd seen my father cry. But I didn’t go back, only when they had tournaments, that's all. I got married, I went on to have children.

What did you do for a living in Lima?
Firstly, when I was quite young, I used to work [cleaning] houses, later I learned to paint. But firstly, what I wanted to say is that when we were doing our second year of primary school, there were three of us, three sons of poor families. We made a pact. We swore we’d go to Lima and one day go home with different criteria, to change the form of working, the form of organisation and the form of progress in our it seemed as if I alone was the turning point, my father didn't know anything about it. I went alone, leaving my village.

And you had family in Lima?
Well, I didn't have anything. This story's very long, many sad things have happened. They even arrested me accusing me of being a thief. They see someone who's come from being a campesino to being a painter and they conclude that he must be a thief. My intention was to study and to finish university and return to my community to do something, but I never made it. What I did was get married and then return to my community with another intention.
Section 8
But you also married someone from your community?
Yes. So when I returned to my community it was different. It’d changed quite a lot.

How long had you been in Lima?
I was there for 12 years, then I came back and then went home again.

You went and then you came back?

But when you returned again to your community, it had completely changed. What changes were there?
Well, there was what I’d call a paternalistic change. The solidarity of before no longer existed, like when someone goes "let's go and do this" - there was none of that.

The solidarity had been lost?
It had been lost completely, not like before. Before it was a campesino organisation - this had all stopped. Nobody needed the faena - that was a change.

And what do you think caused this change?
Well, [I’d say] mainly the Centromin Cobriza company where people earned money. I think it’s like a god which nobody needs. Now the idea of `you help me today and I'll help you tomorrow' has completely gone.

And that's the solidarity?
It’s the solidarity, which has been lost completely. You have to look for money, it’s money everybody wants.

You’re saying that [now] you have to pay somebody to work?
You can't pay. The Centromin workers pay more so they're more respected.

Do you feel there's a difference between the people who work in the mines at Centromin and those who don't?
Yes, that's what its like and at the same time the young people turn their back on their community. It’s very strange. I remember quite well, on a national level, people in other communities, mining communities, their members work in other places but they're united, they care about their people more and whether there's progress. And so my community's a little strange, on both sides.
For example in Lima there are nearly 70 people from this community. They get together, they’ve got their committee.

70 or 80 campesinos from your community live in Lima?
Yes, they live in Lima and its like they live in my community while they’re there, about 70 or 60 of them, something like that.
Section 9
60, 70 people?
Yes that's all. It's another community now. They've separated and formed another community.

So do you think there are communities which are disappearing?
I think they're splitting up, they're forming other villages.

Other villages?
Yes, others, like the ones that have set up further on from the Cobriza mine.

And do the people lose their identity, lose their roots?

How do you think they feel about losing this?
Well, I think they feel that here they'll find development, their lifetime hopes for themselves and their families. But often what they lose is more than what they gain.

So in the hope of finding some kind of development, people lose, separate, divide, they look for other places, other lands, they form other communities.
In the same way that our community is also forming another village. But what's happened is that there's another village now and our village itself is becoming tiny.

And is this as a result of the mining, a product of Cobriza, of the changes that have occurred?

And when these different villages are formed do they lose their customs or keep them? Do they change or do they stay the same?
They've lost them already, that's why we had....

What customs do you think they've lost for example?
Primarily the solidarity, that's one. The other is, let's say, the form of work here, that's work in groups, solidarity.

So there's none of this now?
That's right. But the other beautiful thing, the nicest thing about my community which still exists is the baraya, which is when they name six people as authorities, every year it happens, ...mayor, land manager, governor etc..

How would you translate baraya?
It’s like it was in the case of Cajamarca, where there's a campesina patrol, there's another type of patrol there, that looks after the animals, which keeps them safe. Then they have the governor.

[So it’s a kind of] authority?
Yes, like the top authority - it’s related directly to the government, to the Ministry of the Interior. That's what they have here....the authorities, there's loads of them. But in my community [the baraya] has been maintained and we still want to give it value and what's more we want to look for a way... this is what we're doing in the community. At Easter, in April, they celebrate Easter Sunday with the original authorities - mayor, land manager... - preparing food for all the foreigners. They make chicha and everything, and prepare the food...but they don’t own anything... Then there’s the lesser authorities...
Section 10
Which are the lesser authorities?
Governor, governing mayor, deputy governor, then there are other lower ones but I can't remember how they go.

And who names these authorities?
The community.

In general terms?
Yes in general, the communal faena names the authorities.

Even the Indian Chief, the maximum authority?
Yes, all of them.

And are they elders, the Indian Chiefs?
Yes, they're old people, but in contrast, the main governor and the deputy governor, district attorney, these are young people. So the old people don't tell the.... we have other visitors on this day, they come here. This is our custom. So every chief has to give livestock, his food, for everybody [to eat], or they can put two sticks in the ground like this and display their drawings on them, a blanket, or money, they put it here. If they're rich they put more, if they are poor, less. Even the poorest have to give something. There's differences here as well and everybody has to dance in front of their offerings.

And what do they dance?
They just dance here, singing their songs.

Typical songs from the region?
Yes, then we eat in the town hall. We have a dining room in the town hall where the whole community comes together. Here you have to eat, first you have to eat, but in order for them to give you everything, you have to go through all the ceremony. The president of the community has to give permission. First you have to ask him: "Señor President, you know today is our Easter celebration and we're going to serve ourselves". The mayor has to put his bottle of drink on the table for the president, the chicha we're going to drink. They give him food, with permission from the president. If he doesn't ask the president, the mayor or whoever, is put inside, they put him in prison for having violated the customs. Then everybody has to eat, the president has to eat as well. You have to drink, toast your drink to the president, everything first to the president. All the food has to be eaten and if it’s scarce, in whatever way they can, the person serving will make sure there's enough for everyone, but you have to bring a bottle. Then the vice president has to do the same, the mayor the same, the chief the same, everyone has to join in the eating.
Then there's another custom for single men and women. The single men have this custom that two months before they have to go and steal - it’s a law and a custom of this village. They have to go far away and bring back a big pumpkin, just one that's all, and every time they go they have to bring one back.
Section 11
They have to steal a pumpkin?
Yes, they have to steal one, that's the custom of our village. Then the person who has it has to go to another person who has more authority and they have to make them eat some, meanwhile somebody else has to go and steal another one. Then the following day when the owner can't find his pumpkin...”Oh, these bandits have come to steal my pumpkin!” And on Easter day he finds his pumpkin here. It’s another custom. And on the same day, the single women have to cook, you know, for the single men. Then they serve the single men and then they ask permission from the president and they have to dance. And on the same day they have to sell what they've stolen, they have to make everyone drink, or make pachamanca (meat and vegetables cooked in underground ovens) from the meat that they cook in the ground in mud ovens, or they sell sugar cane. Sometimes they sell it to the single men for them to eat.

Do the single men and women get to know each other on this day, do they get married, fall in love ever?
They fall in love. Sometimes they get engaged during these celebrations. And the highest authorities of the community come together to explain the customs of the community- I'm just talking about my community - then the lesser authorities and all the younger people have to assemble in the main square and sit down together, in circles or in straight lines, and here they serve mote (maize), potato stew, soup and all that, and they explain how this is our custom so that when people grow up they do it the same way, the food, the drink. So this is how they learn, how everything's explained to all the little ones. This is how the children, the young people learn the customs and this is how our community goes on living.

And this is an old custom, one that hasn't changed?
It hasn't changed, which is exactly what we want. Me and my children are thinking about reassessing it. And at dawn, I was forgetting this, at dawn on Easter Sunday the children bring pumpkins, papaya, fruits and chocolate for the single women who have to prepare the pots, seasoning and everything that they're going to serve to the single men. And the teenagers have to go to the small farms to fill up the main square with horses, goats, cows, donkeys and hens. They even take cows there, to what's called the regional fair. So in the morning none of the campesinos’ animals are in their sheds, they're in the square, and you have to pay ten centavos (cents, old currency) for your animals to get them back. This is a custom. You have to pay ten symbolic centavos to get your animals back. Before they used to pay in little silver pieces, but not now. Now you could actually get your animals back by giving a glass of something. Then they pour all these drinks together, they put it all together and then later they’ll give it to the single women and men. This is our animal fair, this is what us campesinos get up to in the communities around here. If you visit the communities around here, then that's what they do. These are the celebrations more or less, the customs which I remember from my community.
Section 12
You told me that you were married. How many children have you got?
I've got 4 children.

And have they stayed in the community, or have they left? Were they born in the community?
Two were born in Lima and two were born in the community - they live in Huancayo. And when I was [living] in the community my children were in Huancayo. They live in a settlement. I got to know quite a lot of people there and so they gave me a small lot of 150 square metres. I haven't cheated anybody. I've always been respectful about everything. So we have a little plot in Huancayo. We live there - my children live there. But I came back to my land. And when we die, I don't think we're going to take the land [with us]. We're going to leave the land here - and that’s how we manage to get by together. My oldest daughter now has her partner, her husband. They have a little daughter. We live together.

And your wife?
My wife lives in my community.

Your wife has stayed in the community, is that so?
Yes, she comes, she comes and goes.

Don't the others think about coming to [live in] the community, do they want to make their lives in Huancayo?
Well, my children, you’ll think I’m fibbing, it depends on how...I don't know....our children... they aren't happy in Huancayo. What we’ve got here until we finish the... I idea has always been to never forget our small plot of land. When they’re on holiday they all go, they take their things and they all go and work on the farm - this is the way of life that we hold on to.

And what do they tell you, do they think they'll eventually return to the farm, to the community?
Well, it seems they might return; my second son finishes mining engineering this year, he wants to become a... he wants to win back some of the mines left by the Spanish and make them work for the community, to find an alternative way. And my other son has studied book-keeping. He's working now and wants to study economic science; the other wants to study medicine, you see each one is thinking about what they want to do themselves.

How old is the youngest?

How do you see the future of your community?
The future for my community. It's bad because currently the community exists at the bottom of a hill and so it wouldn't withstand an earthquake like the one [they had] in Japan. I don't know who'll get anything out of this community, but I'm trying to get it moved elsewhere - I'm working incredibly hard at the moment to get this project off the ground.
Section 13
And you ended up here at the bottom of this hill when they came and took away your land?
That's right. There was one area where the people lived at first, but then a land tremor occurred so [they realised] the community had no future there. But for us today, there is an alternative. For example I've just put forward an irrigation project using sprinklers at Focondes Huancavelica. The proposal is in and they’re going to come and have a look at the site in February. We want to go to a place that’s seven kilometres away and within these seven kilometres we want to build a new village and get rid of the old village, and have a Civil Defence force and....

So you're going to move your community seven kilometres up the road?
Yes, [we’re moving it] onto firm land, because if not, being at the bottom of a hill, a movement, a tremor or an earthquake would flatten us.

Would you be able to grow things on the new land?
All the land over there is fairly good, it’s better than at the bottom of the hill. When they approve the project, they'll help us with a grant from the government.

So the future means a move seven kilometres away.
Yes, a move.

But, tell me, aren't the young people now leaving the community?
To this place that I'm telling you about?

No, what I mean is, are they going to other places?
Yes. Anyway this irrigation project, I was just thinking about it, the idea now is how to get some engineers on board who can give us training in how to make natural fertilisers out of earth. Once that’s organised, I know things will get better with the irrigation project. For the first time, a series of campesina communities living on the edge of the Andes [have done something] on a national level - this has never happened before around here. The only way we have of making this change is by irrigation with sprinklers, it’s all hanging on this. One thing we have to look out for though is being ripped off by the government. I've known a whole bunch of campesina communities, during the time Apra were in government, Alan Garcia, when they were building irrigation channels. They built them, but they didn't know anything about them. A year went by and the donkeys trod in them and now there's no canal. This is what has happened up to now. So we don't want this. We want to install irrigation with sprinklers using tubes and later irrigate [the land] using all this. After the irrigation, what I want is to bring all the villages that have been separated around here back together again. Separation doesn't make progress or concrete development, it doesn't do anything.

And what do you want to grow?
Well, we want to grow apples, maize, carrots..
Section 14
What altitude is your community at?
It goes from where you can grow sugar cane to where you can't grow anything at all... up to the river on the top of the hill - it’s a big area.

How many metres above sea-level?
It will be 3000 or 4000 metres above sea-level.

Between 3 and 4000 metres, the highest part?
Yes, the highest part. So we want to win back the whole flank of the hill to be able to grow carrots, but this is for... general consumption. Our idea is to get this irrigation working to bring back our cochinilla (cactus plant), to grow more cochinilla so we can manufacture coloured pencils around here, or things like that. Or if that goes wrong, we could produce even better things... and we've got a project with the agro-industrial centre, and we could process our product with them. But if we want to improve our product we need the irrigation - and more land. There's the land, and then the food - the land needs to yield more. So this is the way we're thinking at the moment - when the irrigation [project gets started] I know things will move ahead. We’ll show the Ministry of Agriculture, we’ll show them how to get into... production.

And the contamination, how do you think you'll control that?
As far as the contamination is concerned, firstly we'll go on fighting Centromin to get them to pay us the mining levy, but also to get them to develop projects to control the effects of the mining pollution in the area - to get them to clean up the waste. For this we would like to ask IPEMIN for technical support, that's the plan. But first, we need to get organised - unless we organise, we’re an easy target for them to get rid of.

What kind of organisation [are you talking about]?
We’ve only recently got organised, just since 1982. They took me away from my community accusing me of terrorism, and for twelve years I was persecuted. And I didn't have anything to do with them [Sendero Luminoso(the Shining Path movement)], apart from the fact that I used to talk to them when they came to this area. I effectively told them that what they were doing wasn't feasible, but that here.. The first level of organisation is the stomach, [then] production, organisation and scientific education. If you can’t control these, if you don’t have a real understanding of what’s going on in Peru and the support of the people, then quite frankly, you can talk as much as you want but it won’t get you anywhere. But that's all [I did] and they accused me of being a Senderista (active supporter of Sendero Luminoso).

And is the presence of Sendero or the violence less now?
Right now there's nothing, it’s calmed down. There seems to be a few delinquents who carry on like Sendero but aren't, unless they're the ones who stayed behind, and they want to go on frightening the people, that's what it’s like.

Last question, what's happened to the language? Is Quechua being lost? Is this another important change in this region?
Well, Quechua is certainly being forgotten but we're doing our best to maintain it.
Section 15
What about the young people, the children?
It’s very rare for young people to speak Quechua. Before in my community, until I went to Lima, I didn't know how to speak Spanish. It was really hard for me to learn Spanish, but now the young people who come here forget Quechua and go here and there speaking Spanish to everybody. Quechua is being forgotten, but me on the other hand, I’ll never forget my Quechua. It’s so rich and beautiful and this is exactly the problem for us. I've been thinking about how we can hold onto the Quechua [language], to maintain our culture, customs, but the way our organisation’s going...

And has the organisational structure of the community changed as well?
The organisation of the campesina community has also changed. Let’s say, its not like it was when I was a child. Besides, just as some communities are disappearing, others are joining up with others, and [so] the statutes and the organisational structure changes. Some want to impose themselves on others and they create problems and fights for themselves. This problem has brought us a lot of problems - fights, there have even been deaths, deaths can you believe it! So that's the reason why this distance exists between [us and] other communities. We're trying to unite, but some communities won't come together. This is precisely what we want to discuss in the schools. We want to discuss how to maintain our culture and how to disseminate our customs.
There are levels of organisation and some authorities which don't do what they did before. When I was a boy, I used to watch, say, a crowd of men going from house to house and in each house they’d give presents of what they had, everything. They’d bring things, gifts, they’d organise the celebrations at carnival time... and there were some really beautiful customs, with their tambourines, their pipes, others with their clarinets and they’d go from house to house, calling. This was what my community was like. Here too, when a new authority was named, the president would go in front, or sometimes he’d go last, or the Indian Chief would go last and the smallest would go in front and they’d go into someone’s house... [that person would be] surprised, but they’d be received with lots of respect. There isn't any of this any more, we don't have anything like that now. [But] this is what we want to get back for our community, and this is exactly what's been taken from us by Cobriza, no word of a lie. The Cobriza mines have brought us destruction. I think this is the consequence of the mines - the destruction of my people.

One last question - you believe the mines have caused the destruction of your village. Have any of your family gone to work in the mines?
From my own family, relatives, cousins, none. From my wife's side, yes.

And what has happened, have they forgotten about the community or are they the exception to the rule?
Yes, when they got money they bought land in Huancayo - now they're Huancayans. Others bought land in Lima and now they're Limeños.

Don't they come back at all now?
No, that's right, they never come back.
Section 16
Thank you very much for your responses and I hope your village, your customs will continue to win over the passage of time. Thankyou.