nation: Peru

Cross-posted at Reports from the Economic Front.

The Pew Research Center recently published a report titled “Pervasive Gloom About the World Economy.” The following two charts come from Chapter 4 which is called “The Causalities: Faith in Hard Work and Capitalism.”

The first suggests that the belief that hard work pays off remains strong in only a few countries: Pakistan (81%), the U.S. (77%), Tunisia (73%), Brazil (69%), India (67%) and Mexico (65%). The low scores in China, Germany, and Japan are worth noting. This is not to say that people everywhere are not working hard, just that many no longer believe there is a strong connection between their effort and outcome.

The second chart highlights the fact that growing numbers of people are losing faith in free market capitalism.  Despite mainstream claims that “there is no alternative,” a high percentage of people in many countries do not believe that the free market system makes people better off.

GlobeScan polled more than 12,000 adults across 23 countries about their attitudes towards economic inequality and, as the chart below reveals, the results were remarkably similar to those highlighted above.  In fact, as GlobeScan noted, “In 12 countries over 50% of people said they did not believe that the rich deserved their wealth.

It certainly seems that large numbers of people in many different countries are open to new ways of organizing economic activity.

Martin Hart-Landsberg is a professor of economics at Lewis and Clark College. You can follow him at Reports from the Economic Front.

Martin M. pointed out some ironic happenings in Peru that illustrate the complexities of trying to deal with long-term stereotypes and prejudice. Back in November 2009, the Peruvian government officially apologized for discrimination against AfroPeruvians. So far so good–a step toward acknowledging that AfroPeruvians have suffered both economically and socially because of social attitudes and government policies.

But, of course, long-held stereotypes aren’t that easy to change. Peruvians of African descent have often been portrayed as backward, uncivilized, and possibly cannibalistic.

Just a few days after the government’s apology and declaration that poor treatment and negative stereotypes of this ethnic group needed to end, the newspaper El Comercio began advertising their new section on healthy eating with a TV commercial that draws on all the old stereotypes. The video is in Spanish, but I’m pretty sure you’ll get the gist of it, and I describe it below:

El comercio- Los canibales from Pao Ugaz on Vimeo.

What’s going on here? The mother is mad, not because her younger son ate someone, but because he ate someone who was too fat, and thus not good for them to eat. They need to eat less fattening people to improve their health. She warns him about his cholesterol. The caption says, “You eat healthy, you are healthy.”

According to Reportaje al Perú, the newspaper pulled the spot after receiving complaints and apologized for it.

As with any society with a history of widespread, blatantly racist stereotypes and discrimination, attempting to heal racial wounds will be a very long, painful, and difficult process. It’s one thing to officially apologize. It’s another to convince citizens that prejudice and discrimination are unacceptable and that everyone must play a part in ending them.

See also: El Correo ridicules Quechua speakers in government.

The always-awesome Miguel, of El Forastero, sent in an interesting image and post from Puente Aéreo about an article in El Correo ridiculing a Peruvian congressional representative , Hilaria Supa, for her language skills. Supa represents the district of Cusco, an area where the majority of residents speak Quechua as a native language, not Spanish. The magazine ran an image on the cover that shows notes she was taking during a legislative session.

Just a disclaimer, the translations below are mine, not Miguel’s, so if they’re incorrect it’s my fault, not his; I read Spanish decently well and I gave it my best shot, but if you think I misinterpreted the meaning of something, by all means let me know. Nicely.

The caption under the photo on the El Correo website says, “Según la hoja de vida de Hilaria Supa, en 1991 impulsó la alfabetización de mujeres campesinas a través de la Federación de Mujeres de Anta (FEMCA),” which translates as, more or less, “According to the bio of Hilaria Supa, in 1991 she began a literacy campaign for rural women as part of the Women’s Federation of Anta”). Clearly the idea is to ridicule her–this woman claims to have worked on literacy issues for rural woman?

Some quotes from the online article:

… lo que descubrió una reveladora foto de Correo, sus limitaciones en cuanto a ortografía y sintaxis dejan mucho que desear. [“As shown in a revelatory photo by Correo, her orthography and syntax leave much to be desired.”]

Muchos años antes de ser elegida congresista, Hilaria Supa se desempeñó como empleada del hogar en el Cusco, Arequipa y Lima. [“Many years before her election to congress, Hilaria Supa  was a house servant in Cusco, Arequipa, and Lima.”]

…su colega Martha Hildebrandt se quejó de sus destempladas protestas sobre un proyecto para declarar oficiales las lenguas aborígenes. “Miren los modales de estas niñas quechuahablantes”, comentó. [“Her colleague Martha Hildebrandta complained about her acrimonious (inharmonious?) protests about a project to declare indigenous languages official*. ‘Look at the manners of these childish Quechua-speakers,’ she said.”] *Apparently this refers to the fact that Supa and another indigenous representative spoke their swearing-in oath in Quechua instead of Spanish, the first officials in Peru ever to do so. Apparently this pissed people off even though Quechua is one of Peru’s two official languagues, along with Spanish.

The article also clearly implies that she doesn’t deserve to be in Congress, interviewing people about how political parties are supposed to serve as a filter to be sure that not just “anyone” can be elected.

Miguel says,

This picture is a clear statement of the white, Spanish-speaking (and male) [establishment] that opposes the participation of indigenous people (and women) in the government.

Indeed. Although Quechua is an official language of Peru, and even though large segments of the population do not speak Spanish as their native language and there is no requirement that they do so, the message here is clear: attempts to redefine the political establishment in Peru so that indigenous communities can participate more fully on their own terms (as opposed to being forced to completely assimilate to non-indigenous, Spanish-speaking Peruvian culture as a requirement for respect) do not deserve a place in public life.

NOTE: Sigh. After reading everything in Spanish and translating the above sections into English, both of which made my brain hurt, it finally occurred to me to see if any English-language blogs or media outlets have discussed the article and provided translations. Yes, they have. Google “Hilaria Supa Peru” and several items will come up. Then I just felt dumb, but since I have papers to grade and no time to redo it, I’m just leaving my translations and hoping for the best. You might want to check out some other English-language sites for more discussion.

Gwen Sharp is an associate professor of sociology at Nevada State College. You can follow her on Twitter at @gwensharpnv.

One thing you may not know about the peoples of the pre-Columbian Andean region: they were fond of making pottery with exaggerated penises. These were often pipes or water vessels and forced the user to place his or her mouth on the gigantic penis. Images can be found herehere, here and here.

I like these because they remind students that sexual humor (making pottery that forces someone to drink out of a penis, for instance) is not even close to being a modern invention. I’m sure there are lots of other interpretations–that this actually shows an obsession with the penis than indicates a patriarchal culture, that it was part of a cult of warrior potency, and so on–but I bet there was also a level of joking going on too.

Gwen Sharp is an associate professor of sociology at Nevada State College. You can follow her on Twitter at @gwensharpnv.