In southern Peru Cuzco, the ancient capital of the Incas, has been hit by two disasters -- floods and a 48-hour strike.
In southern Peru Cuzco, the ancient capital of the Incas, has been hit by two disasters -- floods and a 48-hour strike. Torrential rains left hundreds homeless, and caused severe damage to the regional hospital. And the strike by transport workers, civil servants and bank employees made life equally difficult for the thousands of tourists in the region. Workers were demanding the reinstatement of colleagues dismissed in the wake of last July's general strike, and on Tuesday (22 November) they demonstrated in the Plaza de Armas.
SYNOPSIS: The flooding is estimated to have caused in the region of 135,000 U.S. dollars' worth of damage at the Regional Hospital. The low-lying ground floor was left with a coating of mud, and both medicine and equipment were ruined by the deluge. Some patients had to be evacuated and then it was all hands to the buckets as the mopping-up process started.
Particularly hard hit were the people living in the shanty towns surrounding the centre. Scores of slum dwellings were destroyed, and people and possessions were left in the streets. Families saw everything they owned ruined by the mud, and one of the main problems facing the authorities was rehousing. The immediate answer was to move them to temporary tent villages.
The strike, which was the second in a week, posed a different sort of problem. Cuzco, perched high in the Andes about 1,000 kilometres south east of the Peruvian capital of Lima, is a major tourist centre. The tourists bring in valuable cash to the region, and their activities were severely disrupted. The strikers' action was strongly criticised by the Peruvian Minister of Industry and Tourism, General Gaston Ibanez O'Brien, who said their actions could do only harm.
Shops and offices were closed during the demonstration, and tourists were left stranded in their hotels as marchers called for the 600 dismissed workers to be reinstated.
During the demonstration the police kept a low profile. The July general strike had been accompanied by serious street rioting, but the Minister said the Peruvian government did not see force as the answer to the problem. The people, he said, must be patient.