Things That Matter

Husband Is Forced To Carry His 81-Year-Old Wife Six Hours To Collect Her Pension Because The Government Has Failed Them

Sometimes we read stories on the Internet that reveal the best and the worst of humanity. Such a case happened in Peru, a country that, like most places in Latin America, presents disgusting socioeconomic inequality.

Yes, you have the high-end restaurants in Lima that are ranked as some of the best in the world and are over $100 for a tasting menu, but you also have the rural indigenous populations living in poverty. For decades, indigenous Peruvians have been dealt a terrible hand and regardless of who sits in government (and Peru has gone through everything, from neoliberal bullies to even a president of indigenous origin), they are often forgotten. 

A recent story brought to light the precarious situation in which millions of Peruvians (and Latin Americans) are forced to do the impossible to make ends meet. 

She is 81-years-old, he is 77-years-old, and they are alone in the world, so he had to carry his sick wife so she could collect her pension.

Peruvian social media was recently shocked by the story of Ricardo Campos Haro and his sick wife, Victoria Vega Medina. Every two months, the couple takes a perilous three hour journey so Victoria can collect her pension. He carries his wife using a large cloth and keeping the balance with a cane. Ricardo believes that a bus ride would be detrimental to his wife’s health.

In an interview, the man said that if there is a car crash his wife might not survive it and that when she travels on a vehicle she gets a terrible nausea that cannot be controlled with medicine. Then there is a three hour journey back home. The pension amounts to 250 Peruvian soles, which is roughly $75 USD. Yes, you read that right. Next time you have a #firstworldproblem remember this figure. Most of the world’s population lives on that or less. 

This story isn’t “sweet”: it is an indication that there is something seriously wrong with the system.

Ricardo and Victoria travel from the town of Queros to Tayabamba, the capital city of the province of Pataz. Some in social media romanticized this story as an example of eternal love, of the real commitment of a marriage en la salud y en la enfermedad. But the fact is that no one should have to endure this kind of pain just to survive. There is something wrong with a system that makes people risk their lives and shed any ounce of dignity for a government allowance that is barely enough to get by. There are a little over 3 million senior citizens in Peru (over 60), which represents roughly 10% of the population. 

Once Ricardo became famous online, he was granted a power of attorney to collect his wife’s pension. 

After their case became viral on social media and was broadcast on news channels, the director of the Pension 65 program, of which Victoria is a beneficiary, provided Ricardo with a power of attorney to collect his wife’s pension by himself. In an interview, he stated that he had tried to sort out the paperwork but it was not possible for him to work within the time frame that the office demanded. There also needs to be better information programs for older folks to understand bureaucratic processes, particularly if they live in a precarious situation. 

This seems like a happy ending, but it is far from ideal.

 Credit: YouTube. Diario El Comercio videos

Ricardo himself is vulnerable, an elderly citizen who should be treated with more respect and dignity. He is an elder, caray! In an interview, he said that his own body “is completely falling apart”. The mountain area of La Libertad (quite an ironic name, meaning Freedom) in Peru’s Northwest is one of the prime examples of Latin American inequality. Many of the older folk that need to collect their checks also face adversity and are impaired when it comes to freedom of movement.

But the story triggered online discussions around the availability of social programs to the dispossessed.

We like this user’s take on the situation: people are citizens, and those who are poor need much more help. She also pointed out that far from being the exception, seeing elderly people travelling great distances to collect their checks is the norm. It is also common to see long queues in the state owned bank on paydays. There are over 500,000 senior citizens in the program. Other users asked if this is what the Peruvian government judges as justice when it comes to aid programs. According to census data, 21.7% of the Peruvian population lives in poverty. In rural mountain areas, however, the figure reaches 48%.

These Tourists Thought It Would Be Funny To Poop Inside A Temple In Machu Picchu: They’re Facing Prison Time

Things That Matter

These Tourists Thought It Would Be Funny To Poop Inside A Temple In Machu Picchu: They’re Facing Prison Time

ThatGayGringo / Instagram

Picture this: You’ve made the long, difficult journey to Machu Picchu, taking a variety of planes and trains and buses to get there, and now finally, you’re inside the grounds. You begin to explore the more than 500-year-old site, marveling at its ancient structures, its surreal terraces and ramps. Life is sweet; the world is wonderful and mysterious. But at some point —and for some unknown reason— you sneak into a sacred temple constructed half a millennium ago, drop your pants, and POOP one of the greatest marvels this world has to offer. This actually happened.

Six tourists emptied their bowels inside the hallowed grounds of an Incan worshipping room: There’s something deeply wrong with some people.

For some inexplicable reason, that’s exactly what a group of tourists allegedly did over the weekend, France 24 reports. Six people in their twenties and early thirties were arrested on Sunday after Peruvian authorities caught them in a restricted area of Machu Picchu’s Temple of the Sun, a revered part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Park rangers and police found feces inside of the temple.

The Temple of the Sun had also been damaged after a piece of stone had “broken off a wall and caused a crack in the floor,” regional police chief Wilbert Leyva told Andina, a local news agency. “The six tourists are being detained and investigated by the public ministry for the alleged crime against cultural heritage,” Leyva said.

The group was made up of one French, two Brazilians, two Argentines and a Chilean, according to police.

They face at least four years in prison if found guilty of damaging Peru’s heritage. Several parts of the semicircular Temple of the Sun are off limits to tourists for preservation reasons.

Worshipers at the temple would make offerings to the sun.

The sun was considered the most important deity in the Inca empire as well as other pre-Inca civilizations in the Andean region. The Machu Picchu estate—which includes three distinct areas for agriculture, housing and religious ceremonies—is the most iconic site from the Inca empire that ruled a large swathe of western South America for 100 years before the Spanish conquest in the 16th century.

Three Argentines, a Brazilian, a Chilean and a French woman make up the group.

Local media reported that all the tourists were aged between 20 and 32. In 2014, authorities denounced a trend that saw tourists getting naked at the sacred location. Four American tourists were detained in March of that year forremoving their clothes and posing for photos at the site. In a pair of separate incidents earlier in the same week, two Canadians and two Australians were detained for stripping down for pictures there.

Machu Picchu, means “old mountain” in the Quechua language indigenous to the area.

The historic site is at the top of a lush mountain and was built during the reign of the Inca emperor Pachacuti (1438-1471). It lies around 100 kilometers (60 miles) from the Andean city of Cusco, the old Inca capital in southeastern Peru. The site was rediscovered in 1911 by the American explorer Hiram Bingham. UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site in 1983.

This Comic Is Being Used To Highlight The Chaos Of Climate Change In Latin America

Culture

This Comic Is Being Used To Highlight The Chaos Of Climate Change In Latin America

el_rubencio / Instagram

The days of comics that are all about cape crusaders and masked bad guys are over. We’re living in a new time where we can’t afford to pretend we live in a fantasy world. Artists today are taking the modern world we’re living in, full of evil politics, natural disasters, environmental issues, and whatever else is thrown our way and applying that to a new frontier of comic-book stories. 

Creatives have launched “Puro Peru,” a kid-friendly comic book that educates and explores indigenous communities and essential issues such as the environment.

Credit: Vooltea

The comic book is 92 pages and includes eight separate stories that are all about discovering Peru, the people who live there, and how they’re tackling issues with climate change. 

“We present eight stories with stories that bring us closer to Peru in a personal way, on a journey full of ancestral traditions and knowledge,” creators state on their website. “With them, we want to sensitize society about the environmental situation of the planet, in the Amazon rainforest and in the mountains of Peru. We hope you enjoy this great adventure designed by several of the best illustrators and writers in Spain.”

The book is published by CESAL, an extension of Vooltea, which is an interactive and educational website aimed at young people and teachers to publicize the different realities of five Latin American countries, which include El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Peru, and the Dominican Republic. 

Let’s meet some of the artists and the stories they’re sharing.

Credit: Vooltea

Javier de Isusi and Alex Orbe take on the causes and consequences of climate change in their comic book stories. 

“Climate change is currently the main environmental problem and one of the biggest challenges of our time,” they write. “This also exacerbates the situation of poverty in which the most disadvantaged groups are found: women, peasants, and indigenous population, and it is with them that CESAL works in Peru.”

Calo, an award-winning artist, takes on climate change by exploring how people in various countries handle the changes to their environment.

Credit: Vooltea

“What measures have been taken to mitigate climate change?” he asks in his story about international measures to break and adapt to climate change. “When are we worldwide? It’s about taking a trip through the reality of different continents and countries to find good and bad practices.”

Emilio Ruiz Zavala and Ana Miralles dive into the indigenous and Sierra population and how these benefits the mitigation of climate change.

Credit: Vooltea

“Climate change especially affects indigenous peoples and rural communities,” the artists state. “On the other hand, they are also the ones with the most accumulated knowledge of climatic phenomena and how to deal with variability and unpredictability.”

Artist Rubencio addresses the critical aspect of strengthening the capabilities of the indigenous population in order to take on the issues of climate change.

Credit: Vooltea

“The concept of resilience has become fundamental in the theory and practice of disaster risk reduction and currently has an important place in discussions about adaptation to climate change,” he states. 

Núria Tamarit, one of the youngest artists taking part in the series, looks at how people can help their local environment in order to make a global impact. “The intention is to encourage critical reflection on the society in which we live and propose changes (clues) that promote a new development model based on sustainability and respect for the environment,” Tamarit states. 

Teresa Valero’s story takes on how climate change is affecting the jungle of Peru. 

Credit: Vooltea

“The Amazon represents 62 percent of the Peruvian territory. In her, they inhabit the greater number of native cultures and the greater biodiversity of the country and the world. As a consequence of Climate Change, strong droughts and floods stand out, causing the loss of forests.”

It’s so beautiful that kids today (and adults) can understand what is happening to our planet on an intermediate level — in Peru — in a way that isn’t complex to understand. 

Often, people don’t seem to grasp the severity of climate change because they feel the problem is more significant than themselves and too challenging to be part of the change. These stories show us in simpler and creative terms that change is possible. The comic book is available to download for free. Click here

READ: The ‘Sahuaraura’ Manuscript, An Ancient Peruvian Document That Was Thought Lost—Was Found Just Last Week, Over 100 Years Later