DAY 111: In Peru?

December 5th, 2014 § 0 comments

If you are, my advice to you is to stay cheerful. (After all, you have the unbeatable landscape, the towering Andes, Machu Picchu, machuquipu or knotted strings to help quipuwith your math homework…) Why am I telling you this? Well, I’ve seen a disturbing report from our far-flung correspondents that Peru is a bad country in which to become depressed, or indeed go mad, since ‘antidepressants and antipsychotics were available in about two thirds of hospitals and in less than 20% of health centers and small health clinics.’ (See Hodgkin D, Piazza M, Crisante M, Gallo C, Fiestas F. Disponibilidad de medicamentos psicotrópicos psicotropicosen establecimientos del Ministerio de Salud del Perú, 2011. Rev Peru Med Exp Salud Publica. 2014;31(4):660-8.) If you are mad, go to a hospital, not a small health clinic; but then that’s what I’d advise someone in Islington.

Furthermore, if your depression leads you to seek refuge in the UK (particularly if you’re a bear) think again, as this article by an immigration lawyer on the popular saga of Peruvian bear Paddington Bear (website) Paddington shows.

I gather that the country with the highest rate of depression is Afghanistan, which is depressing in itself. There may not be many psychotropic drugs there either if you except opium, which my informants tell me is plentiful. Are the figures for Islamic State out yet? I’d likely be depressed if I were there. I wonder if some of the depressed (or for that matter, insane) ex-militants of Shining Path came over and joined Daesh, so depressing the figures for depression in Peru.What I always say is, less depression and more repression. Easy enough in – for example – Ferguson, Mo. as Palestinian Bassem Masri discovered:

‘On those terrible nights in Ferguson when the police were attacking peaceful civilians with tear gas, Palestinians under Israeli occupation offered advice on how to deal with the effects of the gas. Facing violence from an occupying force, whether in Palestine or Ferguson, forges a mindset that demands resistance and standing up for one’s community. When the police used military tanks and checkpoints to imprison the residents of Ferguson, I was reminded of life in the West Bank where I saw the Israeli military use the same tactics of repression.


Palestinians (including Quaker Sandra Tamari) in solidarity with Ferguson at a rally in St. Louis

Palestinians (including Quaker Sandra Tamari) in solidarity with Ferguson at a rally in St. Louis

While the wall of segregation and inequality in Palestine is a physical one; the wall in Ferguson is invisible to those who wish to turn away. Only blacks in St. Louis understand their own situation. They face constant harassment and the fear of being detained without due process or basic dignity. When I stand with the people in Ferguson, I regard them as Palestinians. Our common goal is to live in peace and to not fear for our children’s lives when they are walking down the street.

Since the day of Mike Brown”s death, I’ve been tear gassed, shot at with rubber bullets, and physically assaulted by the police. On September 27, I was arrested and taken to jail. I believe the police targeted me simply because I stand with Ferguson and have been documenting the events there with live stream.


From Ferguson to Palestine, occupation is a crime

From Ferguson to Palestine, occupation is a crime

Racism drives the violence we see in both Palestine and Ferguson. In the United States whites’ fear of black people is often subconscious. In Palestine, anti-Arab sentiment is prevalent and open. The Israeli occupation soldiers have no contact with the Palestinians they control except behind guns.

Until all our children are safe, we will continue to fight for our rights in Palestine and in Ferguson. Our goal is to dismantle apartheid regimes wherever they exist. That is the most important link between Palestine and Ferguson, and it is the link that will make both struggles stronger.

Incidentally, (to return to depression, as opposed to repression) finding country indicators for many human qualities is not as easy as you might think. When were you last confronted at a dinner-party

dinnerpartyDutch dinner-party, by Kawahara Keiga, early 19th century

by someone saying ‘The trouble with the British (or the Greeks, or the Grenadians) is they’re so lazy, they can’t get off their arses’? You want, as a liberal, to query this, reach for the UN global rankings of countries by standard indicators of laziness, and can’t find any. Female empowerment, or media development, any day, laziness or irritatingness (what’s the word I’m looking for), not a chance. Scope for a Ph. D.? Would UNESCO support the research?

Worse, it occurs to me that if the researcher manages to draw up her league table, she will inevitably find, as critics of tables are always annoyingly pointing out in letters to the Guardian, that someone has logically to be last; so that if the Maldives (purely for the sake of example) come out at the bottom of the table, that doesn’t mean they aren’t making giant strides towards their goal of being less lazy than last year. Nature just gave them all this sun and these beaches and they have an uphill struggle (with no hills in sight one might add) to create the atmosphere of

ap1The industrious and the idle Prentices

Dickensian or Hogarthian London.

Poetry corner

While in Grenada, I had the opportunity of watching the ladies working in the fishmarket; and it naturally called to mind the words of Gaelic poet Derick Thomson on the same theme:

‘Clann-Nighean an Sgadain’ (‘The Herring Girls’)

An gàire mar chraiteachan salainn
ga fhroiseadh bho ’m beul
an sàl ‘s am picil air an teanga,
‘s na miaran cruinne, goirid a dheanadh giullachd,
no a thogadh leanabh gu socair, cuimir,
seasgair, fallain,
gun mhearachd,
‘s na sùilean cho domhainn ri fèath.

(‘Their laughter like a sprinkling of salt / showered from their lips, / brine and pickle on their tongues, / and the stubby short fingers that could handle fish, / or lift a child gently, neatly / safely, wholesomely, / unerringly, / and the eyes that were as deep as a calm’, trans. Derick Thomson)

Brine and pickle! Sprinkling of salt! This is serious food poetry. I’d here interpose a recipe for herrings with chile and ginger, but I can’t find any that aren’t absurdly pretentious. Make your own up.


With all the Peruvian theme, I expect you’re wanting to hear ‘El Condor Pasa’; but I can’t quite bear to accommodate you, you can find it for yourself. No, after my exposure to the Adichie canon (see last post), I’ve been inevitably investigating Nigerian music; consequently today’s popular choice is Bracket’s ‘Yori Yori‘;

while if you have more spiritual tastes, here’s Palestrina’s ‘Vergine Bella‘.

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