Viva Peru!

We recently toured Peru. Yes, there are many poor Peruvians, much poorer than any Americans. But I’m always energized seeing a people like this, so manifestly striving to raise themselves and their nation – by producing things that improve the lives of others too. That Peru is bustling with economic vitality was very evident. One of its main industries is tourism.

At Machu Picchu

On our first day we were driven out of Cusco with a lunch stop in Urubamba. When our van turned at a nondescript little restaurant sign and pulled into a barely passable dirt road, I wasn’t expecting much. But the restaurant (Tunupa) was beautiful and faced out on a fantastic vista of a steep mountainside festooned with mountain goats like trimmings on a Christmas tree. The meal was a buffet, and among the best I’ve ever had, every dish unusually delicious; the exquisite desserts were to die for. And as I was tucking in, a musician was playing Pachelbel’s canon on Andean pipes. Altogether a peak experience that literally brought tears to my eyes and my wife’s.

I’m relating this because I honor the efforts of all the Peruvians who worked to make it happen.* They did it for profit, yes. I don’t hold this a dirty word. Great numbers of Peruvians made great efforts to give my family an enjoyable tour, thereby enriching us as well as themselves. Take profit, and the seeking of it, out of the world, and you won’t like the result.

Another thing Peruvians do to rise up is educating themselves. Our tour guide mentioned that 85% of Peruvian kids now finish high school (it’s required).** The American figure is far lower. In a world where a country like Peru is achieving 85%, how does America imagine it somehow deserves to maintain leadership with a graduation rate down in the 60s? (Quality of education is an issue, and America does still lead in higher education. But that doesn’t help the third of Americans who drop out of high school.)

And here’s something else I love seeing in foreign countries: electioneering. Peru was terrific for this. They paint candidates’ names in big letters on walls and the sides of their houses, and these daubings were still seen everywhere after the recent national elections – their proliferation showing how very much Peruvians celebrate their democratic choices.

Mostly they paint only the candidates’ first names. At one spot my wife pointed with a laugh to a big “Elvis” painted on a wall, but it soon became evident that Elvis was indeed the first name of a local candidate. (Another, perhaps oddly in such a Catholic nation, was Darwin.) I mentioned to my wife that in the presidential race a multiplicity of candidates had gone to a run-off between the top two, and unfortunately the best candidate had placed third. “Exactamente,” our tour guide chimed in.


The winner was Ollanta Humala; a former army officer, he had lost the previous election campaigning as a left wing clone of Hugo Chavez. This time he moved to the center and in office has proven to be a nonideological pragmatist, running the economy in a responsible way to boost growth. A major issue is a mining project with a lot of nimby opposition; Humala is pushing it forward. That such a politician would see such a path as the way to go is highly encouraging.

Viva Peru!

* Our tour was booked with Sunnyland Tours; locally in Peru, via Fiesta Tours. We were extremely satisfied with how they treated us. With LAN Airlines, not so much. Details:

**  I couldn’t confirm this by googling, but from other numbers I saw, it seems in the ballpark. 


5 Responses to “Viva Peru!”

  1. Lee Says:

    Sounds great! When you visit Venezuela, please give us a report of that as well.

    [FSR reply: I would like to visit Venezuela, post-Chavez. He and his regime are so loathesome that I would not want a penny of my money going to his benefit.]

  2. Lee Says:

    I was hoping you would be able to tell me whether the high-level, socioeconomic differences between Peru and Venezuela impact the countries as differently as the American press would have us believe. Or are the Chavez-supporting Venezuelans just as impressive as the Humala-supporting Peruvians?

    [FSR comment: Many Venezuelans do support Chavez. The difference lies with those who don’t — just about half the population, perhaps more — who are persecuted and prevented from engaging in normal politics. Most Germans in the ’30s supported Hitler. I salute the enthusiasm of Peruvians for democracy — not tyranny.]

  3. Lee Says:

    In the US and perhaps Peru, the number of people who supported the opposition was comparable to the number who supported the political winner of the presidency. In the US and perhaps Peru, we have those who are persecuted (Guantanamo, racial, religious, sexuality discrimination, etc.) So, I am guessing that any difference with Venezuela is one of severity.

    The New York Times occasionally has articles hinting that the corresponding injuries are significantly worse in Venezuela, but the injuries they describe sound like the ones we have here. The articles use the word tyrant, but describe injuries that are comparable to here, and so on. And so I remain at a loss as to why the writer considers them more severe. I was hoping that someone like you could take a good look around and let me know what is really going on.

    [FSR comment: Frankly, if you want to learn more about the Chavez regime, there is plenty of information available. My main source is The Economist which of course has covered Venezuela extensively over the last decade. To suggest that “injuries” in Venezuela under Chavez are at all comparable to what goes down in America (or even Peru) is (forgive my bluntness) ridiculous. Noam Chomsky can draw moral equivalence between the U.S. and the world’s worst abusers. I cannot.]

  4. Lee Says:

    Ah, to you too, it is obvious that Chavez is worse than Obama, but you too supply no facts that demonstrate that he is worse. My own research does show that Chavez is slightly worse than Obama, but he is better than many world leaders who get much more of a pass in the press — say, Mubarak, Karzai, al-Maliki, Medvedev, King Abdullah, ….

    [FSR comment: Wow. Chavez only “slightly worse” than Obama. I’m no Obama fan, but jeez, surely Chavez is a LOT worse than him. As for the mixed bag of other names you name, none is a paragon of virtue, take your pick. But Chavez will be deemed “better” than them only, frankly, by a leftie, who falls sucker to the leftie verbiage he uses to mask his fascist regime. I am always amazed at the susceptibility of some people to swoon when some foreign sonofabitch merely mouths the magic words of “anti-imperialist” or “socialist” etc. As to supplying facts — As Yogi Berra said, you can see a lot by looking. In a comment to a comment I don’t feel the appetite to work up a full bill of indictment. Just open your eyes to reality. Read The Economist.]

  5. Lee Says:

    I shall have to check out The Economist. Thanks!

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