By Clare Maakestad and Sanjuanita Murguia

When we walked into the Palacio Legislativo, we were greeted with an obnoxiously loud bell ringing to alert the congressmen and women that the session was starting, so they could know to head into the assembly. Dr. Celle’s pal Beatriz de Criado , who works in the congress, greeted us shortly after our arrival and introduced us to our tour guide, a sweet young woman named Juliana. She took us out to a beautiful courtyard, adorned with colorful flowers and bright grasses, and which featured a bronze statue of José Faustino Sánchez Carrión, better known by his pen-name of “El Solitario de Sayán” (The Lone Man of Sayan). He moved to the area of Sayán in northern Peru and wrote letters back to Lima criticizing the government, as he was a revolutionary in favor of independence from Spain. He is celebrated and immortalized there due to his revolutionary thoughts and ideas which helped to spur the independence movement.

From the gardens, we moved into a room that contained an enormous painting of the first constitutional congress and a painting of the president of the first constitutional congress, as well as an exhibit of pictures of a congress of indigenous people. Interestingly, our tour guide never touched on or explained the exhibit, but spent several minutes describing the large painting. We then moved into the Hall de los Pasos Perdidos (The Hall of the Lost Steps), which is where we entered the congress building. Each side of the hall is decorated with bronze busts of the presidents of each of Peru’s twelve constitutional congresses, and the floor is an ornate mosaic design, which took nine years to produce due to its intricacies.

Then, one of Lima’s congressmen, Congressman Castro, greeted us and granted us access to the press booth in the temporary assembly room where the members of congress were voting on a bill. No United States citizens have probably been granted access to the assembly since the 1990s, when Lori Berenson, an American activist with the Peruvian terrorist group MRTA (Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement), was found to have floor plans of the congress building to be used in a terrorist plot to bomb it. We have no idea what strings were pulled in order to let us into the assembly room, or if tensions have simply died down. However, it was a unique opportunity to see the inner workings of Peruvian government.

The other unique opportunity that we had was meeting with Congressman Jorge Rafael Foinguinos Mera, the president of the Commission of Foreign Commerce and Tourism. We met with this particular representative  because Peru and the U.S. have recently entered into a free trade agreement (TLC in Spanish). He shared with us a bit about what the agreement entailed, and we were able to ask a few questions which he gladly answered. After he discussed some legal barriers blocking Peru from entering into free trade with the U.S., he described how it would benefit Peru’s economy (in particular Peru’s organic agricultural economy), considering that when it is summer in Peru, it is winter in the U.S.; so the two countries can trade food staples that are not being produced during a given season at home. We asked if this would help not only the big-time business corporate, but also the primary farmer/producer. He affirmed that entering into free trade with the U.S. would benefit all farmers including the small organic farmers, given the demand for organic products in the U.S. In addition, besides Peru’s rich variety in agricultural exports thanks to the diversity in climate and ecology, it also has a great advantage over many competing countries like Chile and Argentina, since it is closer to the equator which allows there to be faster and more plentiful growing seasons. We felt very pleased and fortunate to have had this distinct opportunity to meet with this gentleman and discuss such an important topic to U.S.-Peruvian relations.

Following our privileged 30 minute interview with Congressman Jorge Rafael Foinguinos Mera, we finished our tour of a few smaller but equally impressive rooms. With the ringing bell behind us, we left congress with not only a better understanding of Peruvian government and its history, but also with higher hopes for its economy and national well-being as it begins its new government chapter under this new president, Ollanta Humala.


by Tina Randolph and Kevin Wright

In the last few decades we have seen an increase in productive globalization. Globalization has established an amalgamation of world economics and reduced barriers to international trade. Peru is an up and coming leader in the world economy. In 1991 the Bush administration eliminated tariffs on many products imported from Peru. These agreements lead to what we now know of as a free trade agreement. Implemented in 2009 the free trade agreement eliminates the labyrinth of trade and coalesces the access to goods.

During an early morning jog, we gained a better perspective on the importance of trade within Peru.  We saw a very large freightliner in the distance, which sparked our excitement for our trip to the port later that day. When we arrived at the port, we had to pass through security in order to confirm our identity. Once we entered, we were escorted into the control room.  Here, there were nine television screens streaming the 63 security cameras within the port. The system is only one year old and has a capacity of up to 26 telebytes, which allows video to be stored up to 60 days.

Since 2005, the Port of Callao has been internationally certified for trade. After September 11, 2001, international transportation security required all ports to establish security procedures to match international requirements in order to participate in international trade. In Peru, there are 30 piers in all – 17 are government owned and the rest are privately owned. All international ports are managed by the navy. In Callao, there are two piers – the North pier and the South pier. The South pier is privately owned by the Saudis, while the North pier is currently owned by the government. Many ports are privatizing in order to accommodate the large ships. Check out the link to find out more information about the Port of Callao and see that it is rated number 92 as the highest container port in the world.

Looking out into the port is a barrier which serves as a holding center for each ship to gain entrance into the port. Once paperwork is processed, the ship gains entry to dock and continue processing. Of all the ports in Peru, the Port of Callao accounts for nearly 80% of all shipments. This high percentage is likely due to the 1 million teu’s (twenty foot equivalency units) that pass through the port each year. There are 17 million metric tons that go in and out of the port on a given year on more than 2,500 ships. Each ship can stack 10 crates high. There are two different sizes of cranes that operate along the port; the smaller crane being able to move 12 containers per hour and the larger crane 30. It was astonishing to find out that each of the cranes costs approximately $4 million.

The future of the port of Callao is on its way to greener pastures as it ventures in to a perspective outlook. By 2021, they project an increase of TEU’s from 1 to 4 million, as well as shipments from 17 to 45 metric tons per year. As the port develops, privatization is also a possibility for the currently government-controlled port. The privately regulated ports have the ability to develop faster and with more modern operations. Roadways to and from the port are changing to accommodate for  faster service and connectivity. A roadway connecting destinations throughout Brazil is also part of the plan in order to help Peru connect to east coast trade. The benefits of the connective roadway across South America will increase the global trade with more countries at a greater ease of convenience. The Peruvian economy is increasing and stabilizing, with the Port of Callao as an important aspect of it.


This program is a collaboration between the Office of Latin / Latin American Studies, under the direction of Dr. Lourdes Gouveia, and the Service Learning Academy, under the direction of Paul Sather, at the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

Written by:  Julie Nelsen

On the 8th and 11th of June 2011 my Peru trip took me and my fellow classmates to work on our scheduled service project at the little daycare which the Office of Latino/Latin American Studies (OLLAS) at the University of Nebraska-Omaha has taken under its wing.  The school’s name is Caritas Felices and when first found by our professor Dr. Celle was constructed on a dirt floor with plywood planks taped or nailed together. This was four years ago, today with the help from UNO students, OLLAS, The Service Learning Academy (especially Dr. Paul Sather and Spanish Instructor, Arturo Miranda) and Dr. Olga Celle, the little daycare now has two school modules, each having two class rooms, a small running outhouse/bathroom and as of this year a brand new brick wall to keep the school and children ages 2 to 6 safe.

This year’s trip to San Juan de Miraflores shantytown school we had help from a local Catholic University call San Martin del Porres.  Seven to nine of its students came with us to help repaint the two builds since they were graffitied and help white wash the little outhouse and the brick wall and stain the new and very large wood entrance gate. Some of the students even kept watch over the children so they wouldn’t get into the paint. That was a chore in itself.

The actual experience of this shanty town I was not ready for even though the reading we had in the book “Mega-Cities in Latin America” gave us a brief explanation about this type of living condition.  Actually seeing and experiencing it with your own eyes and body puts it into a whole new perspective.

While riding in our nice mini bus you could see the segregation of the upper and lower class areas. The following are items I noticed which stood out greatly in regards to the separation of the classes:
Living conditions
Types of People

Homes in the upper class districts were single family homes with yards and private drive ways. In the shantytown homes were made up of what could be found lying around or if the family had enough money, bricks. Many of the homes aren’t even finished, yet families live within them, sometime multiple members of an extended family live in one home. Vehicles parked were they could on the street or on the sidewalk and there were no yards to speak of.

The city officials have recently put in paved roads in the shantytown and are trying to put in green spaces so the people of San Juan de Miraflores also have nice common areas, yet no one is taking care of the up keep of the green spaces already in place.

One thing both areas had in common was that neither had enough room for traffic to drive comfortably through. (The whole city of Lima is this way.)

I also noticed the way the garbage is taken care of. In the main city area the garbage is placed in bags and either in the curb or in tall metal stand with a metal basket on top to keep it out of the reach of animals. In the evening you would see the sanitation trucks drive through and pick up the trash. In the shantytown, the garbage is thrown to one side of the road and burned.  There is no rhyme or reason where it is thrown and stray dogs and cats had access to it. It was a very sad and filthy sight to see.

In regards to Security, when we toured the upper class section of Lima you would see that every home had security personnel out front protecting the home and property.  Even driving along streets you would see security outside businesses and schools, people felt safe walking around. I also noticed that on upper and even middle class home and businesses you would find along the top of the front gate or wall electrical wires to keep thieves out. Some buildings and even telephone poles had metal spikes on them to keep theft from happening.  As mentioned a few lines above, the upper and middle class also had either stone walls or iron gates in front of the property for further protection.

In the shanty town there were few walls and the iron gates were only on building fronts occasionally. Homes here had their front doors right up against the sidewalks and a few buildings had broken glass fragments on top of any walls that might be up.  At Caritas Felices the parents would also be doing this to the new school wall so thieves don’t attempt to vandalize and steal from the school as they have in the past. Before the wall was built the school had 2 of the 3 new toilets and their new brooms that they received last year from the OLLAS service group stolen by someone in the community.

By nature I am a people watcher. I like to see how people interact with each other and in their environment. I saw quite a difference between the city and the shantytown. People, whom were upper class, dressed nicer, walked with an air of pride and quickness. They would greet you or respond back if you spoke to them and if a conversation was started they seemed very interested with what was being said. If you didn’t know the language well, as in my case, they would attempt to understand you or help you understand them. Eye contact was also more noticeable.  In the city you would see people from the shantytown trying to sell you items off the street yet they really wouldn’t make eye contact with you, they had a sense of distrust.

When we entered the shantytown the citizens would watch us from their windows if they had one, or the front door, with curious eyes but didn’t make contact.  While in the school the parents kept to themselves and made only brief contact with the student from UNO.  This was even passed down to the little school children, but only for a brief time, s curiosity got the better of them. I know that even I was quiet around everyone since it was new experience, country and language for me.

I also observed how the education of the two different classes made it such a large gap. While we were at the little daycare on June 11th some of the students from USMP were teaching the parents about not hitting their children and how it could affect the child’s development. The people of the shantytown don’t have the access to higher education as easily as the upper class due to money.

You could also see a difference in the people by the type of clothing that was worn.  The upper class people wore nice expensive and sometimes matching clothing were as in the shanty town you were lucky to see clean clothes.  One thing that I found interesting was that people in the shanty town wore much brighter and cheerful colors than the upper class making the area seem much more colorful.

While watching I also saw that people within the shanty town were more of the native ancestral descent than those from the upper class. Here you could see more of a Spanish ancestral characteristic.

Coming to the last item I noticed was the type of jobs that were located in the each area. In the upper class/city area you would see many banks, business offices, nice eat in restaurants, movie theaters, fashion forward clothing and furniture designer stores and modern bars. Mixed in you would see street vendors and many lower class peddlers trying to sell you everything except the kitchen sink as you drive or walk by them.  (The can be very pushy and people have learned not to take anything from them unless they really intend to purchase the goods. Once they had it in your hands it was yours.)

Driving down to the shanty town you would lose count how many times you would see a welders shop, car mechanic, an outdoor eating shack, mini caged up grocery stores and flower peddlers. Everyone is trying to make a living.

In conclusion the experience of the shantytown has opened my eyes to what life is like for many of the Peruvian people. To be labeled as an invader by government and many of your own countrymen can be disheartening and to take the time to prove this way of thought is wrong, takes time.

Much what I have seen here I can relate to back in the states. We have our own segregation of upper and lower class and each area that I’ve touched on has been seen or felt in our daily lives back home.  I hope we all take back with us a much broader view of what goes on around us and how we can actually improve our way of thinking.

By Alena Keene

Lima is the mega-city that it is today as a result of the migration of rural citizens looking for employment and better living conditions during the mid-twentieth century.  Lima, which is located in a valley with the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Andes to the east, has a limited amount of space available for housing and other types of urban development, as it continues to grow.  The peripheries of the city have rapidly pushed up the sides of the surrounding mountains and hills.  This urban sprawl is due not only to impoverished citizens seeking space to build in shantytowns (pueblos jóvenes)but also middle and upper economic class citizens looking to relocate to suburban, gated communities.  Unfortunately both legal and illegal land speculation caused the destruction of rich farmland, ecosystems, and important historical sites.

On Sunday, June 12, we visited the Villa Wetlands (los Pantanos de Villa) in the district of Chorrillos in southern Lima.  Los Pantanos de Villa is the last protected natural reserve in Lima, and it faces the potential threat of losing more acres to land speculation.  As we followed a small part of the wetlands’ trails, it did not feel as though we were still in a metropolitan city with a population over eight million.  However, when we climbed two of the observatory towers we could see evidence of urban sprawl closing in on the natural wildlife refuge that is home to dozens of species of birds, fish, insects, and plants (and according to legend, a nine foot long alligator).  Surrounding the wetlands are paved streets with a steady flow of traffic, shantytowns creeping down to the edges of the natural reserve on one side, and upper class housing and a golf course limiting the natural space on another side.  In addition, waste and chemical run-off from nearby factories and industries interrupt the ecosystem by polluting the water upon which it thrives.  The sight of water with an unnatural pinkish hue pooled in a few areas among the reeds and grasses was very impacting and provided us with a reminder of how important it is to incorporate the preservation of the natural environment in urban planning and policy.

Following our visit to los Pantanos de Villa we made our way Pachacamac – an archeological site south of Lima.  Lima’s location in a desert was especially evident in this archaeological site.  Pachacamac was an Incan god whose name means “earth-maker” in the Quechua language.  As we climbed the Sun Temple, there were spectacular views of beaches, rocky islands, the port of Callao, and the vastness of the archaeological site.  Also at the edge of the historical site, we saw the border of an expanding shantytown.  Similar to the unfortunate destruction of part of the Huaca Puccllana pyramid we visited in the Miraflores district, the Pachacamac archaeological site faces the threat of land speculation.  The loss of such historical sites destroys clues to the rich cultural heritage of indigenous Peruvians.

Our visits to the archaeological sites and the natural wetlands left us with an unanswered question:  How can the municipal government protect nature and history while allocating space for the high demand of urban development and housing?

Peruvian cuisine is some of the best in the world.  With three different regions (coast, mountain, and jungle), Peru has taken advantage it gastronomically, creating some of the best dishes in the world.

These pictures will show you what we enjoyed, and at times, the enjoyment of the food itself.

by Tina Randolph and Kevin Wright

¡HOLA! Today we began day 5 in Peru, and we already have been engulfed in a vast array of cultural perspectives. Today we focus on a variety of colonial and modern political views in the city hall of Lima.

Arriving in downtown Lima at City Hall, we were surrounded by a whole new version of the city than we have yet been exposed to.  Once we entered the building, we were approached by guards to verify our presence. Each of us had to provide proper identification that was left at the front counter. Then we were escorted upstairs to a library facility with conference tables. The room was filled with oversized legal books of which were carefully handled. The legal personnel wore gloves while acquiring data from these books.

After an introduction, city officials began with a PowerPoint presentation over reconstruction and renovations of the city. He began with an overview of the current issues into the expansions of the informal city. With the self-help housing districts there have been much needed improvement on the infrastructures of buildings and transportation. A development of highways and byways were proposed to connect these divisions and decrease congestion. Currently viewing the outline of Lima, many areas that were expanded tend to look like finger-like projections from the city. Each of these areas has a limited amount of connectivity to main functioning roads. With the proposal they would have a more continuity of flow.

In the next section he presented the projects for the Costa Verde, that is, the coast of Lima. The city hall proposes to focus on a greener environment involving the reconstruction of beaches, roads and walkways. In short, the project will focus on implementing a more attractive and entertaining environment. By allowing a $180 million budget, the projection of a $2 billion revenue from the tourism and increased traffic to the beach will help the cities funding. Baja de Av Brasil was a main road for the focus of the project. Lots of greenery, landscaping and a variety of floral aesthetics will be incorporated into the scenery. Stairways down to the beach will be improved to provide a beautiful walkway down the hillside.

It was brought to our attention a project to increase security in shanty towns, dangerous areas, and new developments such as the New Costa Verde without decreasing the security that is already in place in secure sectors. The money coming in from the costal renovations would help create more job opportunities in the security industry. With this discussion in the air we decided to touch base on the public transportation situations in regards to the city’s taxis services. We were informed that there were nearly 300,000 unregistered taxi drivers and 60,000 registered and licensed drivers. They city is attempting to establish two type of taxi systems. The first system would be similar to a dispatch style of taxi that can be called and they will pick up at a location and be able to cross into separate districts while the second type will allow taxis for shorter distances that can drive around and look for customers but are limited to the district that they are in. They are hoping that this will help increase traffic flow and reduce pollution.

In our own experience, we met a taxi cab driver and had an opportunity to converse with him on a roundtrip to and from the airport. When we returned to the hostel, he insisted on taking registered taxis for any of our future journeys and showed us what a properly licensed taxi driver badge looked like. He gave us his card in case we needed a taxi again, and after getting to know Angel a little better, we know that we would have no problem calling him for future rides.

Finally, he discussed the project of San Lorenzo Island and its future connection to La Punta Callao with a newly constructed bridge. This will allow for San Lorenzo Island to transition from a private-public to a public-capital and become a more valuable asset to the city of Lima. We will be able to emphasize more on this area in the upcoming week as we pay a visit to La Punta Callao. ¡Hasta la proxima!