Peru’s indigenous hope for a voice, at last, under new president – by Stefanie Eschenbacher and Angela Ponce (Reuters – July 5, 2021)

CARATA, Peru, July 5 (Reuters) – Maxima Ccalla, 60, an indigenous Quechua woman, has spent her life tilling the harsh soil in Peru’s Andean highlands, resigned to a fate far removed from the vast riches buried deep beneath her feet in seams of copper, zinc and gold.

The Andean communities in Ccalla’s home region of Puno and beyond have long clashed with the mining companies that dig mineral wealth out from the ground.

In recent interviews, many said they felt discriminated against and marginalized, and accused mining companies of polluting their water and soil.

But in a country still under the shadow of a colonial past, the rise of an outsider politician, the son of peasant farmers, is sparking hopes of change.

It has also thrown a spotlight on stark divides between the rural Andean highlands and remote Amazon settlements, and the wealthier – and whiter – coastal cities.

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