The Peruvian dream / Expat in Huaraz (part 7)

According to the National Institute of Statistics and Informatics (I.N.E.I) 12,187 foreigners entered Peru in 2012 and stayed for over a year. The Huaraz Telegraph is wondering whether these visitors came to see the wonders of Peru, or were they looking for the Peruvian dream? If the American dream is the idea that success is possible for every individual, does the Peruvian dream exist? And if so, can you reach for those ideals on the Latin American continent being an expat? 

It is fairly easy to spot a tourist in Huaraz, with their tiny day-sacks and camera around their necks, whereas expats blend in; they adapt to the local way of life. But what motivates a person to uproot their entire lives, and leave their family and friends to go and live on another continent? Over the course of the season The Huaraz Telegraph will endeavour to interview expats living in Huaraz, to give the readers an insight into why they decided to do just that. But first let’s look at some interesting statistics.

Although the following stats are accurate there is no statistical information on how many foreigners live in the Áncash region.

In the period from 1994 to 2012, there were 89,320 registered foreigners residing in Peru that did not leave the country. Between 1994 and 2004 the number of foreigners entering Peru did not exceed 3,500, and between 2004 and 2006 the number of foreigners living in Peru did not exceed 5000. From 2007 the number increased to over 6,000 and in 2012 that number had risen to a staggering 12,187. It´s important to mention that, even though Peru has a law stating that visitors can only stay up to a maximum of 183 days a year, after one year Gringos are considered immigrants in the Republic of Peru, be it legal or illegal.

There is no denying that the number of immigrants has increased over the years and between 2007 and 2012 there were 55,616 immigrants representing 62.3% of all registered immigrants in the analysis period of 1994 to 2012. To make a small comparison, in the last six years measured concern over 50.0% of the immigrants from the period of analysis. The period between the years 2001 – 2006 represented 18,499 incoming foreigners representing 20.7% of all registered immigrants during the study period, while the years 1994 to 2000 represent 17.0% of total registered immigrants. The number of foreign immigrants in Peru has a greater dynamism in the last years of the study. Until 2003 foreign immigrants did not exceed 20,000, this number doubles in 2007 becoming 40,446, and in 2012 the number of foreign immigrants in Peru rose to 89,320.

Dividing the entry of foreign immigrants into different periods (in years) and having the estadisticas de la emigración internaticional de peruanos e inmigración de extranjeros 1990-2012 in hand, one can see that the average annual immigration per period is becoming a growing trend during the last three periods, except from 2001 to 2003. On average, only 2,357 people crossed the border into Peru between 2001 and 2003. Between 1994 and 2012 the annual average is 4,701 surpassing this in the last two periods 2007-2009 and 2010-2012, reaching average immigration figures from 7,420 and 11,118 respectively, the latter being six times higher than the average income of foreign immigrants of the first period (1994-1997). When analysing the gender of the newcomers it´s remarkable that the population of males is by far bigger than the opposite sex. Men represent 66.8% of the immigrants while only 29,636 (33.2%) are female. Since 1994, men have represented more than 60% of the immigration population, but in 2012 they reached 70.9%.

In the document found on the I.N.E.I website the distribution of foreign migrants is also represented by age group. A chart shows that the predominant age group is the 30 to 34 year-olds representing 12.2 % of all immigrants. Immigrants from 35 to 39 years of age characterise 12.1 % during the period from 1994 to 2012. This is followed by the 40 to 44 years old with 11.2%, continued by the group of 25 – 29 years old (10.7%). On the other hand, the highest percentage of immigrants are aged from 15 to 49, representing 68.2 % of all immigrants.

Looking at the gender population pyramid, the concentration is in the middle, being narrower at the base and that there is an increase in the first and last group. Immigrants aged under 15 count for 6.8% and are distributed almost evenly between men (3.7 %) and women (3.1%). People older than 59 years of age represent 10.3% and are distributed between 6.3% men and 4.0% women. Of the total number of 83,628 immigrants over 14 years of age, 33.7% are declared to be single whereas 199 people are said to be widowed, and 98 are divorced.

Between 1994 and 2012, 89,320 foreigners were considered to be new residents of Peru without any migration movement noticed and just before the document starts to talk about the country of origin, it mentions that 69,277 people (representing 77.6%) have come to Peru by air, entering the country at Jorge Chavez National Airport. A small 8.6% entered from the south in Tacna (Santa Rosa), 2.3% from Bolivia (Desaguadero), and a 1.4% came from the north, crossing the border from Ecuador at Aguas Verdes. A total of 3,378 (3.7%) arrived at the harbour of Callao (probably shipwrecked and unable to return home).

The authors of the report declare that there exists a strong concentration of regional immigrants referring to 31.6% of foreigners coming from Latin American countries such as Argentina, Bolivia and Chile. Americans (from the USA) with 12.4% the biggest group of newcomers, followed by the Chinese with 9.3% and Bolivians with 7.8%.

As you just have read, you will need to stay in Peru for over a year to qualify for the status of immigrant. This is also the main condition for our interviewee plus the fact that he or she should live in Áncash, and in this first edition of 2014 we conducted the interview with the man working on the still unfinished cathedral of Huaraz.

Venturi at California

1. Who are you?

Well, my name is Fabio Venturi and I am Italian and am originally from a town near Rome.

2. How old are you and what’s your profession?

I am an architect by profession; however, when I first got to Huaraz I dedicated my time teaching Italian. I came to Huaraz thanks to a programme run by the Italian government and it was because of them I started to teach Italian. I am fifty-two years old.

3. How long have you been living in Huaraz?

I came to Huaraz for the first time in 2000; however, I visited Peru on a couple of occasions in the late 1990s

4 What brought you to Huaraz?

I was invited by the University Santiago Antunez de Mayolo in Huaraz to teach Italian in their language centre. I could easily have gone to Cusco or Trujillo as well but I was lucky to be able to come and work in Huaraz.

5. How has your life changed over the years?

Well, in terms of my age, getting older has had an effect on my stimuli and passions [Fabio laughs]. My life has improved a lot in a professional sense and also in terms of family. I have a family here and I feel very much at home in Huaraz if I may say so.

6. What are your favourite hangout spots in Huaraz?

Well, I am a bit of a glutton and I have not stopped eating Italian food since I left Italy. When I go out for food, I always look for traditional Italian dishes. I sometimes eat a pizza at Franzua but I like Ivette´s restaurant Amma y Tequila a lot because it offers some international dishes. I don’t visit the Callejon a lot but if I do so I like to eat at Ollon de Barro in Monterrey. I am a very good cook if I may say so and I make my own pizzas and pastas at home. When I first came to Huaraz I even had my own pizzeria for a short time.

7. What is it you miss the most from back home, and how often do you go back?

This is probably the most difficult question of all. What is it that I miss most from my home country? Normally someone would be a bit nostalgic and miss certain things but honestly… I don’t know. Maybe my parents. I can’t really say I miss the food that much because as I mentioned before, I can cook really well and that makes it a lot easier in Huaraz. In the past thirteen years I have only gone back to Italy four or five times. I try to go back every two or three years and I will then stay for a couple of months. Mainly for family reasons.

8. What is it you like most about Huaraz?

I felt like a citizen as soon as I arrived in Huaraz thirteen years ago because the people of Huaraz are very welcoming. I have actually spent more time living in Huaraz, then in cities in Italy! This probably explains why I have a good understanding of the idiosyncrasies of the locals in Huaraz. Back in Italy I lived in the Apennines or Apennine Mountains for some time and the people there are similar to those living in Andean villagers in Peru. [Fabio laughs] Maybe it is because these are people who cannot see the horizon, unlike those who live at sea-level. So it is definitely the people I like the most about Huaraz, although the stunning panoramic views and the territory come a close second. For work purposes I have had to cross the Andes many times and I have seen many spectacular views but again it’s the people that make the Andes special. Overall the people who live in the Andes have a different type of lifestyle compared to Costeños (coastal people) and the mountain lifestyle suits me better.

9. What’s your opinion of the tourist business in Huaraz?

Apart from designing some hotels in the city I am not very well informed about the tourist business in Huaraz. I designed a hotel in Huanchac which hasn’t been constructed yet and another one in Anta (near the Airport, 40km from Huaraz) for Doctor Palacios Rota. I also did the drawings for a project the owner of the Brasa Roja is building at the moment. I designed a hotel in Belen for a lady called Christina that is currently under construction. I was also responsible for the expansion of Hotel San Sebastian on Jirón Italia in Huaraz.

10. What sites or activities do you recommend (or not) to our readers?

Well there are a couple of places that are not well known and I would like to mention those. I have travelled over the whole of Ancash and I think there are certain spots that are not yet discovered and worth visiting. Being an architect, restorer and connoisseur of the architectural beauties I would like to mention the south-eastern part of Ancash including the provinces of Recuay, Ocros and Bolognesi. In Ocros and Recuay there are many churches worth visiting and in some case these buildings are even under State heritage protection like those in Huasta and Acas (Acas District is one of ten districts of the province Ocros). These places are not just for religious tourists they are a must-see for all visitors. A small problem is that the roads to these places are not very accessible and sometimes even dangerous especially after rainfall in the early months of the year. In the province of Recuay there is a religious trail that goes from Tapachoca. Chiquian is another interesting place with many religious buildings and tourists could easily continue hiking the Huayhuash circuit from there.

11. If you were to become the Mayor of Huaraz one day, what would you do or change?

[Fabio laughs] I would rather not stand in the mayor´s shoes because this is a bit dangerous these days (referring to the many assassinations of politicians, journalists and lawyers the past seven years in Ancash). We all know that the only thing I can gain is a place in prison. Politics are a hassle but I could give you some insights on my architectural views on the city. I have no interest in working for the municipality at the moment because I am not a specialist in urbanism although I know some things about it because it was part of my studies.

12. Are you living the Peruvian dream (explain)?

When I left Italy… If I may place a little criticism on the title of this article, I don’t agree with it because I don’t feel expatriated. I came here to live as a Peruvian not an Italian living in Peru. Of course, the situation in Italy was different back then and cannot be compared with the current situation. When I left Italy I had money in my bank account to invest in Peru. The end of the Fujimori era (Peru´s controversial president (1990 – 2000), who was criticized for his authoritarian way of ruling the country and was accused of human rights violations) wasn’t the best time to come to Peru as the country was still recovering little by little from its instability.

13. How do you see your future in Huaraz?

My future in Huaraz will be easier as I get older but I feel very comfortable and still have much work to do. I am happy in my work as a professor, and as the city still welcome me and with my family, there is no reason to leave. But maybe if you interview me again in another ten years, my opinion will be different.

As we had the tape recorder still running we also wanted to know how Mr. Venturi rated the Italian food in town. He said the following:

I am not sure. I would rather not answer your question because I would not like to be harsh. Being a foreigner yourself, you should know that ´reproduced´ food in any country around the world is never going to be as good as the real thing back home. The pizzas here are not to be compared with the real Italian pizzas; however, when a pizza is made by a Frenchman… Well, I guess it´s edible [Fabio laughs].

Huaraz´ architecture is often qualified as horrible but what does Mr. Venturi think about this topic?

We all know that the city of Huaraz has suffered many problems in the past including earthquakes and landslides. Not to mention the terrorism, turmoil and disorder of 80s and 90s. These are things you cannot blame the people for. I believe that the disorder is not such a big problem now as others like to say it is. I have seen many places much worse. The problems can easily be resolved with a bit more interest and attention to traffic problems for example, and there should also be a bit more control and monitoring by the city´s officials.

Thank you for your time

Are you an expat living in Huaraz, Yungay, Caraz or any other part of Ancash?
Contact us for an interview and find your home country flag on the front page of the next edition!

Also read our previous editions of The Peruvian Dream:

Part 6 with Marie Timmermans from Belgium

Part 5 with Mario Holenstein from Switzerland

Part 4 with Diana Morris from Canada

Part 3 with Danaan Lahey from the USA

Part 2 with Patrick Bertrand from France

Part 1 with Sabine Honing from The Netherlands

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