Peru, officially the Republic of Peru, is a country located in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean.
Peruvian territory was home to ancient cultures spanning from the Norte Chico civilization, one of the oldest in the world, to the Inca Empire, the largest state in Pre-Columbian America. The Spanish Empire conquered the region in the 16th century and established a Viceroyalty, which included most of its South American colonies. After achieving independence in 1821, Peru has undergone periods of political unrest and fiscal crisis as well as periods of stability and economic upswing.
Peru is a representative democratic republic divided into 25 regions. Its geography varies from the arid plains of the Pacific coast to the peaks of the Andes Mountains and the tropical forests of the Amazon Basin. It is a developing country with a high Human Development Index score and a poverty level around 28.7 percent. Its main economic activities include agriculture, fishing, mining, and manufacturing of products such as textiles.
The Peruvian population, estimated at 29.5 million, is multiethnic, including Amerindians, Europeans, Africans, and Asians. The main spoken language is Spanish, although a significant number of Peruvians speak Quechua or other native languages. This mixture of cultural traditions has resulted in a wide diversity of expressions in fields such as art, cuisine, literature, and music.
Choropampa - The Price of Gold
A devastating mercury spill by the world's richest gold mining corporation transforms a quiet peasant village in Peru's Andean mountains into a hotbed of civil resistance. A courageous young mayor emerges to lead his people on a quest for health care and justice. But powerful interests conspire to thwart the villagers at every turn in this 2-year epic chronicle of the real price of gold.
On June 2, 2000, a truck from the Yanacocha gold mine spilled 151 kg of liquid elemental mercury along a 40 km stretch of highway passing through Choropampa and two neighboring towns. Villagers were not told the mercury was toxic. Assuming it was azogue, an ancient cure-all, they collected mercury in bottles and jars using their hands, sticks and brooms. Children were especially fascinated with the alluring silvery balls of liquid that sparkled in the bright sun; they played with it, spilling mercury on dirt floors and beds, near gardens and animals and inside the local school.
Elemental mercury, or metallic mercury, evaporates rapidly at warm temperatures like those found in Choropampa at the time of the spill. Gregory Camacho, an industrial hygienist at the University of Columbia hospital in New York, specializes in cleaning up mercury spills. "Mercury is very difficult to clean-up on regular floors," says Camacho in the film, "because it goes into every nook and cranny that
it can find... On a dirt road or dirt surface it would definitely burrow."
Camacho explains that even after all visible liquid mercury has been cleaned-up, mercury vapors may remain in the air, condensing and evaporating as temperatures rise and fall. Elemental mercury is most toxic to humans in its evaporated, vapor-form. The World Health Organization says that when elemental mercury is inhaled, approximately 80 percent of the mercury remains in the body where it can damage the lungs, kidneys and central nervous system. Chronic exposure may cause birth defects and miscarriages. Symptoms of poisoning can include skin rashes, nausea, muscle and kidney pain, respiratory difficulty and loss of consciousness. Elemental mercury can be transformed into organic mercury or methyl mercury through contact with organic matter in the environment. Organic mercury is extremely toxic to humans because it can accumulate and move up the food chain.
A World Bank report on the mercury spill in Choropampa acknowledged that "a certain proportion of the mercury that remains in the environment, either in the soil or transported into nearby waterways, can be expected to be transformed into organic methyl mercury." Chronic exposure may include neurological disorders, severe birth defects and mental illness.
Peru - Remembering Bagua
This short documentary film examines the conflict that arose in Bagua, Peru in June 2009. Indigenous Awajun and Wampis activists from the Peruvian Amazon protested against new laws created by the Peruvian government that allow international companies to extract oil, gas and minerals from the Amazon without adequately consulting the indigenous people. Violence ensued which left 34 people dead, and over 200 wounded. This film was mostly shot at the Bagua Memorial, which took place in June 2010 in northern Peru. The filmmakers recorded testimonials related to the causes and aftermath of the tragic Bagua conflict.
Made by two Canadian first-time filmmakers: linguistic anthropologist Anna Luisa Daigneault and visual artist Bronwen Moen.
Peru - Undermining Justice
If multinationals will do anything to control the public debate, how can indigenous peoples ever assert their rights?
With global demand for natural resources increasing year on year, some of the world's poorest communities are having to fight hard to protect their environment and way of life. When protests and direct action do not work, many will try and get redress through the courts.
But when multinational companies decide that the costs of settling such cases are far less than the huge profits on offer, is justice being undermined?
High up in the Andes of northern Peru, among cloud forests, high moors and fertile lands, lies the town of Huancabamba and the nearby farming community of Segunda y Cajas. Untouched by modern industry, the local population lives almost exclusively through farming, tapping into the rich soils and fresh water sources to put food on the table and sell produce to the lowland cities.
In 2002, this community's way of life, more or less unchanged for hundreds of years, was turned upside down by the arrival of British mining company Monterrico Metals. A mining company based in London, Monterrico had obtained concessions from the Peruvian government to start exploration and development work for the huge open cast copper mine called Rio Blanco - a project meant to run for 20 or more years.
In 2005, local communities marched on the mine site in protest against the company's plans.
According to those who were there, the rally had been envisaged as a peaceful affair but a confrontation with the police took place in which a number of people were injured.
Twenty-eight protesters were detained at the site for three days and, according to activists, were humiliated and tortured by the security forces. Unlikely to get any redress in Peru, the victims sued Monterrico in the UK, with the help of British law firm Leigh Day and Co, alleging that the company had been complicit in the affair.
But though their prospects looked good, the case was settled by Monterrico last year just before it came to trial. It meant the victims did get some compensation - but the wider problems they were fighting to reveal were never aired in open court.
The case is an interesting example of a growing trend. Multinational companies are increasingly likely to respond to legal challenges in this way. The settlement costs can be high but usually they are far less than they would be after a negative verdict. And more importantly it gives the companies - and their lawyers - control of the public debate.
But it begs a disturbing question: If corporations will do anything to avoid going near a court - how can indigenous peoples ever assert their rights?
Filmmaker Michael Watts has been to Peru for People & Power to find out.
Stepping Into The Fire - (Ayahuasca Documentary)
Stepping Into the Fire is the cinematic release that reaches into the ash of the bare bones of existence and asks the question "is humanity born to die, or is humanity born to live?" The film follows the true story of three successful individuals brought together by an ancestral medicine from South America that has become legendary for its miraculous and profound effects. Ayahuasca -- as the Amazonian brew is known -- is well known for its mental, physical and energetic healing properties. Stepping Into the Fire closely examines the life-changing effects Ayahuasca can have and illustrates why environment and health are so crucial to human success on a global scale.
Stepping Into the Fire features Roberto Velez, Donna Walsh, Bo and JosÃ© Pineda Varges (a.k.a Maestro Mancoluto). The story begins with Roberto Velez -- a high-level New York Stock Exchange trader -- raised since adolescence in America, but ultimately of Peruvian descent. In the peak of his career, Velez finds himself seeking; unable to reconcile his material gains with the lack of direction and depth in his life. With nowhere else to turn, Velez scours Peru -- the land of his ancestors -- only to find Mancoluto, a first-level master shaman descended from one of the earliest civilizations in Amerindian history, Chavin. Mancoluto's expertise in natural health, particularly in the case of two ancestral medicines known as Ayahuasca and Huachuma, provides him a unique lens when treating Velez's predicament. Once this connection was made, countless other pieces start falling into place and a center for ancient Peruvian healing arts is quickly born.
Stepping Into the Fire is the beautifully woven tapestry of recent events that will leave you ignited and inspired to discover what it is in your life that keeps the fire alive
Hot Cities - Lima Peru - Climate Meltdown
Climate Meltdown - BBC Environmental Documentary
"Meltdown" -- Water scurity is going to be one of the most pressing issues as the world faces the challenge of climate change. If averag global temperatures rise by only only a few degrees, most of the world's glaciers will disappear, leading to floods and water shortages. This episode travels to Peru, one of the dryiest regions of the world, whch now faces the loss of its already stretched water resourses from melting glaciers in the high Andes. This report looks at the situation, the prognosis and what th countr and its peope are doing to cop with their dwidling water resources. BBC on 14.11.09
Uros - Peru
The Uros people inhabit 56 man-made islands floating on Lake Titicaca, made from the Totora reeds that grow there. The only community of its type to exist into modernity, this documentary presents a unique insight into a vanishing, pre-incan world.
Happy Juice - Peru
Peru is home to a mind-bending drug named Ayahuasca that has attracted much attention. Said to transform lives and contain healing powers, this drug has been labelled as a magical potion.
Ayahuasca has become very popular across the globe; "the more I drank, the more I found I could connect and really learn to love myself again". However, with numerous side-effects, sometimes lethal, are the healing powers of the drug a real aid or are the people using it just being exploited?
A Film By SBS
Distributed By Journeyman Pictures
Rough Justice For Dealers - Peru
We investigate life inside Peruvian prisons for those ensnared by the Nigerian drug cartels.
Fujimori's Prisoners - Peru
12 January 1999
A violent anti-terrorism campaign has left hundreds - possibly thousands of innocent Peruvians detained.
Secret Sterilisation - Peru
1 December 1999
In Peru Andean women are speaking of a brutal Programme of forced sterilisation.
Inca Nation - Peru
A nationalist revolution is brewing in Peru. Tired of a world banking system that has turned them into slaves, Peruvians are turning to radical nationalist groups.
A crowd of Christian Nationalists wave the Nazi flag. They're calling for foreign companies to leave and Peru to be left to indigenous people. People in Peru are desperate. There are no jobs, no money and no health care. Extremist groups provide a real political alternative. "The Spanish exterminated the indigenous people. Now we want a return to power."
The Battle For Peru
29 August 2000
Our film looks at Fujimori's final months in power and illustrates how he lost the respect of his people.
Produced by ABC Australia
Distributed by Journeyman Pictures
Las Chicas Harley - Peru
South American governments have a reputation for being notoriously corrupt. In Peru, they are taking novel steps to combat this problem.
Inca Indians Return Home - Peru
A report on Inca Indians returning home a decade after they fled from 'Shining Path' savagery. Back in their highland villages, the Incas are bent double gathering in the harvest. When they have threshed the grain, they kneel down in the straw and offer thanks to 'Mother Earth'. Brightly woven clothes and fluttering ribbons belie ten years' suffering at the hands of Peru's infamous revolutionaries. Dismissing the Incas as ignorant peasants, the Shining Path were brutal in their attempt to impose revolutionary ideals. Maria, recruited by the Shining Path when she was 16, recalls how her leaders shot two peasants in front of her. She was then given a revolver and told to shoot dissenting villagers. In a grey shanty town outside of Lima, Jose Paiwa lives with his children and one granddaughter. He fled from the highlands after his son was killed along with 18 others. Recently, under pressure from the government, he took his family home. But without equipment or food, he was forced to leave his overgrown land and return to his city shack. To avert future conflicts, local villagers have formed militia groups and women have turned to evangelical Christianity.
Produced by ABC Australia
Distributed by Journeyman Pictures
People & Power - The New Shining Path
Jul 21, 2010
People&Power looks at the reinvention of the Maoist guerrilla group in Peru, and its links to the narcotics trade.
Eye Spy - Peru
With President Fujimori facing trial for corruption and human rights abuses, 'Eye Spy' looks back at one of the biggest political scandals of his Presidency. Also contains archive of his fall. Behind closed doors, President Fujimori's chief security officer, bribed and secretly filmed anyone who could be of use. Remarkable footage shows cash changing hands as President Fujimori bought off the nation's media. "Every day I tell them what to put on the nightly news", boasts chief security officer Vladimiro Montesinos. When the secret tapes were discovered, there was an uproar.
Peru - People of the Mountains 1940
A film about Peruvian peasant farmers in the 1940's.
Unreported World - Peru Blood and Oil
Apr 14, 2011
Indigenous peruvians fight against oil companies for the right to keep their land, traditions and culture.