Editorial October and November 2013

A person of influence in the community?

I was recently approached by a member of the public and asked why we haven’t produced any articles in The Huaraz Telegraph recently. I explained that due to there being few tourists in Huaraz between the months of November and April there seemed little point spending out money producing a paper that is not going to be read.  He disagreed with me stating that I was a person of influence in the community and that he enjoyed my editorials, (he also recognised me from the television). Bolstered by this extremely positive interaction I decided to put pen to paper and write something for my loyal readers and Facebook followers.

A scam stamped out.

Much has happened in October so there are many things I can write about, but let’s kick off with a meeting I had with the new administrator of Cruz del Sur in Huaraz. In the June edition of The Huaraz Telegraph we ran an article about some local hostel owners who travelled to Cruz del Sur headquarters in Lima to present a letter of complaint about a scam happening inside their terminal in Huaraz.

The scam is not only frightening for those involved, but it is having a serious impact on the local hostelry businesses. The complainants claim that when a bus arrives in Huaraz the gates and doors of the terminal are locked allowing only two agencies access to the disembarking tourists who are pressurized into purchasing treks and tours at vastly inflated prices. I along with many others stopped recommending Cruz del Sur to friends and family who were travelling to Huaraz. The company has also been accused of offering non-refundable hugely expensive packages which sees the travellers placed in below par hotels and hostels.

According the new administrator, Mr. Berrospi Roggero, many things have changed. After an investigation it was brought to light that the former administrator had been receiving illegal payments from the travel agencies concerned. Even after the revelation some people still tried to make money from this illegal enterprise. In an unprecedented move Mr. Berrospi Roggero forced all the touts from the Cruz del Sur terminal. This has resulted in the administrator receiving threats, being intimidated and even being offered bribes to change his mind. To his credit Mr. Berrospi Roggero has remained strong in his position and now people can once again travel to Huaraz using Cruz del Sur.

Mr. Berrospi was very proud of his action, as well he should be. I as your editor know all to well what it is like to be threatened and intimidated. It is not a nice experience. But with the backing of his bosses in Lima Mr. Berrospi refused to back-down. He knew of The Huaraz Telegraph from a previous company he worked for, he likes the paper and even hinted at a future partnership.

It is worth noting that although the problem with the Cruz del Sur terminal was resolved many other company administrators are taking illegal payments from touts, so the issues are still prevalent at other company terminals.

Rain doesn’t stop play in Huaraz

As I mentioned previously Huaraz is quiet at this time of year. Seasonal businesses have shut-up shop and the proprietors have lots of free time on their hands. This time of year also brings with it a lot of rain! This doesn’t stop the like of Quechuandes though. They organised an indoor climbing competition which not only attracted climbers of all levels, but it was attended by both foreign and local people and sponsored by local businesses. I congratulate this agency on its initiative.

From newspaper editor to television presenter

In October I was offered the opportunity of a lifetime. I was asked to present a television show called No toque su televisor (Don’t Touch Your Television). I was to present the fourth edition of the live show and had to select some people to interview. I immediately thought of Danny Colonia and María Calvo. They were the subject of an interview in TheHuaraz Telegraph in 2012. Danny and María are real artisans who are often misunderstood by people in town who consider them as cheap, dirty or even ´dealers´. Now they had the chance to share their creativity and thoughts on Canal Tres – Cable Andino.

Although I was nervous going into this venture, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I can tick this off my bucket list, and look forward to my next challenge.

Huaraz: A Place of Beauty

A couple of days ago Huaraz was the subject of Manolo del Castillo´s programme Reportaje al Perú where he shared the beauties of the Callejon de Huaylas. The programme was broadcast on national television and invited viewers to visit Wilcacocha and Hatun Machay (though in the programme it was misspelled as Jatun Machay), and try local dishes such as Chocho (Tarwi) which is a popular bean grown in the Andean regions of Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia and, if not soaked in water for a day or two, can produce an extraordinarily bitter taste; Tocosh (fermented potato pulp) and of course Cuy (deep fried Guinea pig).

As the programme was filmed in May it offered the presenter the opportunity to climb up some mountains in the Cordillera Blanca, with guides from Casa de Guias who were praised as being the most professional guides of Peru. The programme concluded with a visit to the farming community of Vicos north of Huaraz where locals spoke of the benefits of living in a rural community which offers tourists a new experience away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Although not covered in the program it is worth noting that NGOs and tourist agencies often talk communities into offering tourist packages which can lead to a clash of interests. These conflicts are often money-related as most agencies organising the trips lack transparency, and thus do not show the tourists what percentage of the deal is actually going towards those who do the hardest work.

And Finally….

I´d like to conclude this editorial with a small update on the only foreign inmate in the Huaraz prison: Charles Lewis Cornelius. The South African calls me at the end of every month asking me if I could please pay him a visit. As there is no one else for him in Peru (even his own embassy has abandoned him) I intend to honour his requests because he is very lonely, and he´s a guy who just likes someone to listen to him.

On the phone he told me that he is still being beaten by guards, and his nurse bullies him by not giving him his medication on time; which is a serious crime. Lewis told me that he has been teaching English to some of the other inmates, and that he likes doing it because it helps him forget the terrible situation he is in. Just before publishing this editorial, I received another phone call from Lewis informing me that he was about to go to the local hospital because his bones hurt, and could I bring him some (English) books as one of the inmates he shares his cell with has taken the black and white television home. I told him I would be more than happy to do this for him.

In the hospital I had trouble finding Lewis but he spotted me from a distance. Ironically there was also a crew from the local TV station Cable Andino in the hospital, and I didn’t want them missing out this great opportunity of interviewing Lewis. Unfortunately the two policemen who were guarding Lewis didn’t let it happen; positioning themselves right in front of Lewis so he could not be filmed; however, some shots were taken. Afterwards I was asked what the whole situation was about and I told them that the South African prisoner is often discriminated against, and beaten in prison, he just wants his rights to be respected. Lewis’ life in prison may not benefit from the local press interest, but it got the attention of some locals who are willing to pay him a visit and see if they can do something about his situation. If a reader wants to visit Lewis and bring him some food and remember that apples and grapes are forbidden to be brought in the prison.  Also he would appreciate something to read. You´re best option is to visit him on a Sunday. Don’t forget your passport or DNI. 

Rex Broekman

Founder and editor of The Huaraz Telegraph

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Read our previous editorials:

Editorial September 2013 – Time flies, even when you are not having fun

Editorial August 2013 – Had you heard of Huaraz, or did you get here by coincidence?

Editorial July 2013 – Wandering and wondering

Editorial June 2013 – Doing the right things

Editorial May 2013 – Words of concern

 

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