Differing Quality of Life for Indigenous and White Peruvians

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In Peru, there are many indigenous Peruvians who are proud of their Incan heritage; into the 21st century, they have maintained the dress, traditions, and land of their ancestors. At the same time however, many Indians that have moved into the cities have begun identifying themselves as mestizo or even white if their pigmentation lets them get away with it. Due to the long colonial rule in the country, there is a pigmentocracy in Peru where whites and mestizos sit at the top as the wealthiest and more powerful group in society and the indigenous population (though larger in number) is often considered to be a group of second-class citizens. This had caused the indigenous population to suffer less access to education, healthcare, and jobs. One of the starkest facts that demonstrate this is that the mean income for non-indigenous citizens is twice the mean income for indigenous workers. In hopes of a more prosperous future, many Indians move out of their indigenous homeland and into cities like Lima and Cuzco. With that migration, they create a new mestizo identity so that they might avoid the discrimination that often comes with being indigenous. On the other hand, there are many who stay in their homeland and have fought tirelessly to protect the land against the government and corporations. They seek to protect the land from those who wish to destroy it in favor of timber and mining; many of these efforts have lead to deaths amongst both parties. Due to the ‘taboo’ of being indigenous in Peru, there is a growing divide between those who share a full-blooded Incan heritage. Indigenous Peruvians are split, with some risking death to protect their homeland and others too ashamed to identify with their past. In this paper, I will... ... middle of paper ... ...until the day there is equality for both indigenous and mestizo people. Unfortunately, to reach a day of equality requires a reset of a nearly 500 year old mindset that is steeped in structural violence. A structurally violent system that has not just divided a country, but an ethnic group that used to be a mighty empire. It is a system that has societal expectations that lead some to forget their heritage to get access to resources like education that should be accesible to all. It is a system that causes people to risk death just so that they can voice their opinion. Though this structural violence has a long history that can make it seem impossible to abolish, the indigenous culture of Peru has not gone silent yet and the spirit of the Incan empire is still strong. I envision that the fight for indigenous rights is nowhere near over in the mighty country of Peru.

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