#potd: Drink Coka Quina not C#c@-C#l@ in Bolivia

Travelling around Peru and then Bolivia (and now Chile) we’ve been gobsmacked by the domination of the soft drinks market & industry by C#c@-C#l@. Their signage & promo material is omnipresent, and their drinks are absolutely everpresent. We hardly ever drink their main brand on principal, so it was a pleasant surprise to come across an alternative – Coka Quina. Unsurprisingly a similar taste, and colour, but not bad. Certainly better than Peru’s C#c@-C#l@ part-owned Inca Kola, which was the colour of piss and not much better tasting!

C#c@-C#l@ dominate the sales of bottled water (con gas – fizzy, and sin gas – still), and also carbonated (gaseosas) drinks to a huge extent. In Peru in 2013 C#c@-C#l@ and it’s subsidiary/partner Corp JR Lindley (CCC-CRL) had a 49.8% share of the soft drinks market; in Bolivia in 2013 C#c@-C#l@ and its subsidiary/partner EMBOL took 58.3% of the market. Interestingly in the same year PepsiCo & it’s partners/subsidiaries took 9.2% & 17.2% respectively. Which is why when combined C#c@-C#l@ & PepsiCo globally control 35.7% and 71.7 % (by value) of the soft-drink and carbonated soft-drink markets respectively in 2014. And in 2013 their combined spend on global advertising was a whopping $7.27 billion! (See this report on Trade & Investment Liberalisation and the Soft Drinks Market in Peru & Bolivia). Continue reading

Taxi jams, black carbon, melting ice caps and climate change in Peru

a traffic jam of taxis

a traffic jam of taxis

Take a walk down a busy street in any of Peru’s larger towns & cities and the problem soon hits you – in the back of the throat, up the nose, in the eyes. It’s the choking stench of black cardon, fine particles like soot, pumped out of the exhuasts of Peru’s many older diesel combi-collectivos (small busses, people carriers, minibuses), taxis & lorrys of various sizes. It blackens the streets & buildings, causes serious health problems for the people, and contributes to climate change (read – the effects of black carbon).

Climate change – the causes of it and the problems it excaberates – is a real time problem in Peru and across Latin America. The 33 Latin American & Caribbean leaders meeting as the Community of Latin American & Caribbean States (CELAC, founded in 2010 – report here) in the Dominican Republic since Saturday, may well be looking nervously north to the Trump fantasist & bully, but they should also be looking closer to home before man-made & natural disasters sink their economies for good.

Arequipa the 'white city' now just dirty white

Arequipa the ‘white city’ now just dirty white

This late-2014 report ‘Dumping Dirty Diesels in Latin America: Reducing Black Carbon and Air Pollution from Diesel Engines in Latin American Countries’ (opens as a 48page pdf), written for the US based Natural Resources Defense Council (about NRDC), sets out in detail the short to long term impacts on public health & the environment, and provides a wealth of frightening statistics. It also calls for & suggests available solutions. Sadly, history indicates that the vast majority of the ruling elites (and their corporate buddies) of CELAC are unlikely to give a damn about anything except amassing their own power & fortunes, and will never commit to the necessary infrastructure and changes, never mind the funds required, to turn back climate change. Continue reading

Huge nativity scene burns at Cusco NYE celebrations

nativityfireA nativity scene the size of a small house burnt in Cusco’s main plaza last night, just minutes into 2017, as celebrations & fireworks exploded all around. Given the volume & size of fireworks exploding in the plaza, the fire was no real surprise. No doubt Peru’s political/catholic establishment will pray this is not a portent of things to come in 2017. See film of fire and film of midnight in the plaza (both utube) and news report (in spanish). Continue reading

Cusco, Peru goes Yellow for NYE 2017

nye_prepSo here we are in Cusco, Peru, the ‘navel of the world’ in the eyes of some, observing the build up to the NYE2017 celebrations in 12 hours time. Cusco is, we read, the top destination for Peruvians when it comes to celebrating NYE, and one of the top 10 worldwide. In Cusco the colour of NYE is Yellow, and the markets are filled with yellow items – knickers & pants, bras, ties, hats, confetti, tinsel and much more. Wearing yellow, especially underwear, is supposed to bring you luck for the coming year. Green underwear might bring you money, and red underwear helps bring you love. Our underwear will remain black!

intiSo why yellow? It’s in honour of the sun, a much worshipped entity or deity in these parts, not least as a result of one or more of the Inca creation myths, in which the sun god Inti is the second most important god after the creator god Viracocha. The myth goes that Inti married the moon goddess Quilla, and they gave birth to the first two Inca, one of whom was Manco Capac (1st Inca ruler, who possibly married his sister) ensuring the Inca could claim divinity & the right to rule thereafter.
Virtually all religions/cultures have creation myths, christians have the Virgin Mary & baby Jesus
. Inca myth info here and here.
Continue reading

A Critical Mass in Cusco Peru

cmcusco_30decComing up at 7pm tonight Cusco time, on 30 December, we’re delighted to see there is a local Critical Mass bikeride. Cusco sure needs events like this, as it’s streets are distinctly unfriendly to bicycles. Many roads are very uneven, but worst of all is the density of traffic in the often very narrow streets combined with a rather ambiguous attitude to traffic lights & rights of way. Plus the heavy pollution at street level. We don’t think we’ve seen a single bike lane here yet!

The flyer translates as: ‘Celebrate the culture of the bicycle and reclaim the right of cyclists to share the streets with the rest of the vehicles.’ CM’s will continue the last Friday of every month.

Unfortunately for us, not only are we in Spanish classes until 6.30pm some distance away from the start, but we have no access to bicycles. We’ll see…

Continua la huelga indefinida en el Poder Judicial, Peru

huelga_cuscoThe indefinite strike by workers in Peru’s Poder Judicial (courts system) continues nationwide, despite increasing pressure from their bosses (article in Spanish). The strike by workers in the FNTPJP union started back on the 22 November (see past blog article) and remains solid. It’s having a significant impact on the court systems – which are in any case slow, and according to many fairly corrupt – and continues to attract media attention.

Here in Cusco strikers banners adorn the front of the Court buildings in Avenida del Sol (very central Cusco), and protests/strike rallies are held in the street outside – in the pic above there were some 100 people involved. This seems to be one of numerous small scale struggles that we have observed going on in Cusco, others have focused on issues such as education (and lack of it), gentrification & tourist developments trashing local communities & historic buildings, and water (again the lack of it generally, nevermind any drinkable water source!).

#potd: Rumicolca – the Wari and Inca southern entry point to Cusco valley

Built over 500 years ago by the Inca’s, this defensive wall & entry point is named ‘Rumicolca’ and was used by them to control the flow of people & goods into the Cusco valley from the south-east. As with so much the Inka did, it was in fact an improvement on a structure built by others centuries before, in this case by the Wari (or Huari in Spanish) people.
cusco_sthgateRumicolca is an impressive structure some 12m tall and 3-4m thick. It’s located some 32km south-east of Cusco city, in the valley of the River Watanay (or Huatanay). The original Wari construction is believed to have been an aqueduct over where the river would then have flowed, but by the time of the Inca drought had lowered the water level of both the river and the nearby lakes of Huacarpay & Sucre, a process that continues today.

Impressive as the Inca structure is, arguably more impressive is the legacy of the Wari culture & empire, which existed from around 500-1100AD, although archeologists & others differ on the exact dates. The Wari originated from the region & city now known as Ayacucho in present day south-central Peru, in the Andes – this is a region that has continued throughout history to be rebellious, and as recently as the 1980-90’s was the base for the Sendero Luminosa (or Shining Path) maoist inspired peasant rebellion. The Wari came to dominate much of the south-central highlands of Peru and most of the coast, and went as far south as the shores of Lake Titicaca, where they ran into the Tiwanaku (or Tiahuanaco in Spanish) culture & empire, in what is now called Bolivia. Continue reading