Given the conventional concept of a library it is necessary to put things into context: in our communities there is no electricity supply, nor running water or drainage. In many communities families eat only what they manage to produce from their own plots of land. Despite the statistics which say otherwise, in many hamlets more than half the population cannot read or write, and if they once did know how it was soon forgotten through either a lack of practice or the availability of suitable reading material.
Although their work feeds the entire country, the farmers receive laughable prices for their products.
Cajamarca is located in the northern mountains of Peru and is considered one of the most deprived parts of the country. Some call it “the poorest poverty” and that is more than just a name to the hungry.
Yet Cajamarca produces 78% of the lentils consumed in Peru. Of the 33,000 metric tonnes of dried peas produced nationally, 37% is produced in Cajamarca. We also produce 30% of the 120,000 metric tonnes of coffee, almost 25% of the soya and close to 20% of the 230,450 metric tonnes of amylaceous corn. No other Department produces more milk or gold either in the whole of Peru. Cajamarca also produces a third of the garlic in the country, and ranks second for the production of husked rice (16.6%), yams (16%), dried beans (14.3%) and wheat (12.1%); third for the production of papaya (17.3%), choclo corn (12%) and green peas (11%); fourth for the production of yucca (9.1%), and fifth for the production of potatoes (8%).
However, in Cajamarca 80% of the population can’t afford bread. The official statistics say malnutrition affects 65% of children and each year 52 in every 1000 die before their first birthday. But in some provinces 80% are denied any crust whatever. The statistics also say that in some places almost 20% of people do not know how to read and write, particularly women, and in general, 10% of those between 15 and 17 are illiterate. It is referred to technically as a “Department of Very Low Educational Development”. Cajamarca has then been further impoverished since the exploitation with impunity of the richest gold mines on the continent.
Today, in spite of this, the whipped of history, the marginalised of the macro economy, those ignored by officious science are here today, not as objects of study, but as subjects of our own process and protagonists of a journey forged from strength and soul.