I had not returned to Cuzco since I finished my last fieldwork season
in October
In September of that same year, we had celebrated
the capture of the Shining Path's highest leader. Like most Peruvians,
I too began to see the light at the end of the very dark tunnel created
by the twelve-year war waged by that group against all who opposed
them. Terrorist and military violence had not hit the city of Cuzco-
at least not in the magnitude that it had swept over Ayacucho, the
Mantaro region, and Lima - and the most visible consequence of the
conflict was the general absence of tourists. During
when I was doing the fieldwork that led to this book, only Cuzquefios
and Cuzquefias busily crossed the Plaza de Armas or cozily sat on one
of its benches to get warm under the morning sun. With few for-
eigners, I imagined that the city looked like it probably did in the
when the Cuzquefio tourist industry was only just beginning.
In June
I finally went back to Cuzco. On my way from the
airport to the city I was struck by the sight of an immense statue,
which the taxi driver identified as Pachacutec, the most legendary of
all Incas. No matter what, Cuzqueiiismo - that pride of belonging to
the region that had cradled the Inca Empire - never dies, I thought
(not without some aesthetic arrogance) as the taxi driver explained
that the monument had been built with foreign funds channeled
through the municipal council. But monuments to Incas were not the
only changes I observed. During the seven years that I had been
absent, peace returned to the country and tourism had resumed in
Cuzco. New hotels and restaurants had been built, many of which
represented investments of transnational corporations. I learned that
one of these had even mutilated an impressive Inca wall by carving
an entrance through it to provide easier access to a five-star hotel.
Meanwhile, the local cultural authorities had offered little resis-
tance. This was big news indeed. Partially destroying an Incan antiq-
Previous Page Next Page