Cusco - Day 3

Trip Start Mar 08, 2005
Trip End Mar 29, 2005

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Flag of Peru  ,
Tuesday, March 15, 2005

So today was the big protest day. It was interesting. We went to the Plaza Mayor at around 11 a.m. and the protestors were just starting to make their rounds. It seemed pretty tame at first. Lots of chanting and sign waving. They set off a few smoke bombs that made a good bit of noise. Bev said it sounded like a car backfiring times ten. There were a few police vehicles and officers around the plaza, but they didn't seem to care.

The demonstrators were separated by occupation. There were: construction workers, train workers, taxi drivers, bus drivers and teachers.

I was following the first group around the square taking pictures. I'll post a few. The first set were the construction workers. Basically the city as a whole had decided on a 24 hours strike. EVERYTHING was supposed to be closed. Trains weren't running, so everyone at Machu Picchu is stuck there until tomorrow. Busses weren't running so the city pretty much stops. With most of the taxis not working either, the people can't get around. Everyone uses public transportation. But, not everything closed like the demonstrators had hoped.

So as the construction workers marched around the plaza, they threw rocks and fruit at any business that was open. As the group approached, businesses were rushing to close their doors. It was all very interesting until they started throwing rocks at me and demanding that I stop taking pictures. They're like 5 feet tall, but they're mean looking. And they had projectiles. A less than ripe grapefruit can do a tremendous amount of damage.

I talked to some local shop owners and they said it's always the construction workers that get violent.

So, of course, at this point the military and police created a larger presence in the plaza. They had the shields out and what not. But they seemed pretty relaxed.

The rest of the protestors were pretty chill. The main issue is that the government is trying to privatize a number of things that have always been owned by the people (i.e. the govt). They already did it with some utilities and they're even trying to privatize Machu Picchu itself. From what I was told there is some sort of demonstration every week, but not on this scale. One woman I spoke with said a Peruvian man told her that what Peru needed was a revolution. There are a lot of Che Guevara shirts and posters around here. And we're right next to Bolivia.

So that's that.

This afternoon we hiked up to some Inca ruins and looked down onto the city of Cusco. Lovely. We also saw the 20 foot Jesus statue that watches over Cusco, a little like Rio.

Tomorrow we're getting out of Cusco and taking a day trip to Pisac. It's the other cultural center of the area.
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