September: dead woman in Lima, dead man in Huaraz

I’m not in Lima today. To get you entertained while I’m gone, I picked two ‘random’ news that give a perfect example of how an unworthy debate keeps us from the actual social issues in Peru.

Lima’s news coverage got interesting in September. Let’s see… I guess the most random thing that caused a major deployment of critics, debates in social media and tons of printed news was the assassination of Ruth Thalía Sayas.

Ruth Thalía Sayas

Ruth Thalía Sayas and her check for US$ 5,800, when she was alive.

She participated in this bizarre show called “El Valor de la Verdad” (The Value of Truth) that mainly tries to expose all your “dirty secrets” in exchange of around US$ 5,800. Thing is she was in the show, told everyone that she had cheated on her boyfriend, worked in a night club [meaning specifically she was a prostitute] and felt embarrassed of her parents rural background.

A few weeks later… She was found dead in a deserted land somewhere in Jicamarca (Lima).

Then things got real crazy. Some people started calling it a “TV-slaughter” case, which implies that TV is at fault for this horrible crime instead of the actual murderer: her ex-boyfriend, who [allegedly] strangled her because he found out he had been cheated on and didn’t get his share out of the US$5,800 she had won.

Truth is no one knows what’s going to happen now aside from the fact that everybody has paid more attention to whether this crappy show should remain on the air or not. It’s funny how some people think that taking it off the air would make things “better”… As if the rate of murdered women in Lima were to decrease as a result.

Does anyone know where water comes from?

Of course, very few people paid attention to what happened in Huaraz, a city located in the highlands of Peru. Turns out there were some riots against mining company Barrick Misquichilca, where residents of a location surrounding  a mining area  were protesting due to water shortage that was thought to had been caused by the company.

Protests against Barrick Misquichilca

Protestas contra Barrick Misquichilca, Huaráz, en Áncash (Foto: Perú21)

One man was killed during the clashes held between police and protesters, and at least four people were reportedly injured, according to BBC News. Weird thing is I heard on the radio the victim’s name was Nemesio Pomabut some others say it’s Demetrio Poma… It seems like it’s not that important, right?

This protest is, apparently, not a fully environmental-related issue. On the radio [RPP Noticias], one of Barrick’s spokespeople said the protesters had been cut off from water service eight days prior to the riots. Since the mining company provides the trucks to deliver water in that area, the spokesman said that the residents “probably thought the company supplies the water as well”.

The fact is that water is not supplied by Barrick. The company in charge of it EPS Chavin S.A. Now, who supervises this and all the other 50 water suppliers in Peru?

The answer is Sunass. This government entity was also responsible for the water shortage that villagers of the Jangas district had to go through for eight freaking days. Absolutely no media coverage wondered why this happened. No one wondered why protests were against the mining company instead of Chavin S.A. or even Sunass from the very begining (they were… after a few days).

Lots of questions, zero answers

No one has claimed anything about how Sunass is currently managing water supply if ever found that water is polluted by bacteria or whatsoever. How did the protesters get any proof that water was being contaminated by Barrick? If getting water back is clearly impossible, since Sunass found it was not being properly treated by Chavin S.A., why did the villagers reject water provided by Barrick’s plant, considering its own staff consumes it?

Should a government agency, responsible for making sure that everybody gets water service, go ahead and eliminate access to it with no prior notice or alternative solutions? My guess is that, really, no one cares where water comes from, how it is or could be more effectively managed. Otherwise, we would have already tried to address these questions.

So yeah, in terms of news coverage, September left two dead people remarkably different due to the most ridiculous thing: one of them is highly relevant for having appeared on TV and, the other just died as a result of a completely avoidable situation. Who’s name do you think will be remembered the most?