photo of person from Peru Cerro de Pasco
social change

community activities
culture and customs
justice and crime
social relationships
spiritual beliefs

introducing the area

employment and income

 quotes about employment and income
 key testimonies featuring employment and income

Peruvian minerTraditionally, most people made their living from livestock, although small-scale mining has a long history in the mineral-rich region. As the industry developed, it became the main source of income, attracting not only locals, but workers from other areas.

Many narrators give vivid accounts of the hardships of being employed in the mines, and of the struggle to improve working and safety conditions (see especially 12, 18, 21 and 24). Today, mining is being mechanised, and jobs are no longer secure. Some see a conflict of interests for miners, dependent for their salary on an industry which is polluting the surrounding environment, and so reducing the viability of local agriculture. Yet, as several point out, the need for employment and the nature of the work itself engenders a different outlook to those working the land - a mind-set which ignores the long-term. Even the mining camps, on the one hand a welcome source of housing, contribute to a certain isolation.

Some local people combine farming and mining. Other sources of employment are sand extraction, weaving and other small businesses, but as the communities shrink and young people move elsewhere for work, so do the options for trade. Miners who lose their jobs and have no land, or whose pastures and herds have suffered from the pollution, have few prospects of earning an income.

quotes about employment and income

"One thing's for sure, there's not much future round here. You can only be a miner round here because you can't live from being a community member, working the land, the farm. The people who work the farm do it as an extra, they have to work in the mine or as a trader or in transport too. You can't live from farming any more the way our grandparents did."
Andrés, M/80s, farmer/retired mechanic, Peru 23

"[Being a miner] was a change, life in a community is always different, it's more peaceful. The timetables are different in the community; the hours are more rigid in the mine, if it rains, thunders, you still have to do the hours.... What's more, a miner, to be honest, is only interested in his salary - how much he earns and that's all - that's the bottom line."
Hilario, M/65, retired miner, Peru 14

". as times goes by, one notices that in a [mining] camp one lives locked up and removed from world, from the outside..The miner believes that if the work ends.the world ends, that he can't do anything else. That's why the miner from the Sierra, the Andes, looks sad, because he is locked up, he doesn't have true freedom. Since I became a union leader I realised that the company played like that, that it was convenient"
Felix, M/38, unemployed miner, Peru 18

"I told you that before there was wool in abundance, the crafts were famous as well, not like now... people came to buy, for example from Huancayo, from Jauja. We used to exchange things: they brought vegetables, clothes; from here they took meat, wool and weavings.. Nowadays we see two or three little shops; before, all these [streets] were full of shops."
Teófilo, M/old, miner, Peru 10

" [Today] parents encourage their children to be professionals so that they never lack work and they can improve themselves - that's the goal of every parent. But, at times, because of the crisis in the country, they can't find work even if they study and even if they are engineers they end up being street vendors."
Victor, M/old, retired miner, Peru 12

"[Most community members] can no longer dedicate themselves to [farming]. All of them work independently.the majority work for the company, now Centromin. Others are informal vendors; others do construction work. These are the only occupations the Saco community has here, there are no others [because the land is polluted]. some have left the country. Some paisano (fellow countrymen) are also in the United States, others in Germany, and a sister in Italy. Also, from here, from Saco, they have gone to Huancayo or to Lima."
Magno, M/55, community leader /builder, Peru 22

key testimonies featuring employment and income

  No.   Name   Sex/Age   Occupation   Location  
Summary Transcript   1   Juan   male/45   miner/farmer   Rancas  
Summary Transcript   12   Victor   male/old   retired miner   Huaracayo, Yauli region  
Summary Transcript   13   Adela   female/59   campesina   La Oroya  
Summary Transcript   14   Hilario   male/65   retired miner   Quiulacocha  
Summary Transcript   15   Juan   male/23   student   Tinyahuarco, Near Cerro de Pasco  
Summary Transcript   18   Felix   male/38   unemployed miner   Cerro de Pasco  
Summary Transcript   21   Eliseo and Isabel   male/female/40s   ex-union activists   La Oroya  
Summary Transcript   24   Ana   female/39   leader of women’s mining assoc.   La Oroya  
Summary Transcript   27   Carmen   female/18   student   La Oroya  
Summary Transcript   29   Julián   male/58   cooperative president   Rancas  
Summary Transcript   32   Alejandro   male/40s   teacher   La Oroya  
Summary Transcript   4   Héctor   male/33   teacher   Quiulacocha  
Summary Transcript   7   Abel   male/22   footballer/miner   Quiulacocha  
Summary Transcript   9   Urbano   male/80   ex-community leader   San Antonio de Yauli