Fiestas Patrias

The 28th of July – El Día Nacional de la Independiencia de Perú– commemorates the day when the country gained its independence. It was 1819, and the great liberators of South America, Argentinian general José de San Martín, and the Venezuelan general Simon de Bolivár, were racing from the south and the north to free Perú from the colonial rule. San Martín was the first one to arrive and proclaimed indepence on 28th of July, 1821. It seems ironic to me, that the struggle for peruvian independence was lead by the foreigners, not the peruvians themselves.

In any case, right now Fiestas Patrias (the Patriotic Holidays) is, next to Christmas, the most important celebration of the year. Schools are closed, families travel all around the Perú and the local goverments organize patriotic parades. And, as appropriate for the South American country which invests substantial part of its income into military forces, the parade is a manifestation of power.

Reservistas, Policía de Operaciones Especiales, Policía Nacional, la Guardia de Policía, Policía Transito, Unidad de Desactivación de Explosivos are just some of the police/military units taking part in the parade. As the troops are passing by and by, the people cheer and clap, seemingly happy about this overwhelming military power.

Being a policeman in Perú is a dream job for many. It is safe, even if not best paid. One can become a policeman already after 6 months of schooling, although entering the school is extremely tough and the concurence hard. Surprisingly, there are many woman in peruvian police forces. “It is becuase of corruption” – explains my friend Arturo in Huaraz, who himself used to be one of the military. Apparently, the studies showed that the women were less corruptive than man, so they decided to increase the number of female forces! Does it work? According to Arturo, yes. “If you get caught for speeding by a male officer, you say ‘But officer, it is the last time, never again, please’, give him 20 soles, you go free. But if you try the same trick with a female officer she sends you to hell!”. And then he adds a good advice: “If you have a problem in this country, always go to the female police(wo)man”. I will definitely listen to him!

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