The North Star Project, 2013-2014 Report Number Thirty-Six, Boundaries and Poverty, Peru and the World by Pamela Hartley Pinto
I am fortunate enough to live in one of the wealthiest parts of Lima, Peru. I live in a gated community with guards in every entrance, where pretty much every house has a pool, at least two cars, a huge backyard, maids, gardeners etc. This bubble is paradise for many and they/we forget that less than 15 minutes away on the other side of “paradise” is one of the poorest communities in Lima where people live in extreme poverty.
Their homes consist of dirt floors, no running water, no private electricity and no sewer system. This is the true definition of extreme poverty where people do live with less than a dollar a day.
The sad thing is that the only thing separating both places is a massive wall built by those who want to keep outsiders or the poor out. A wall that exemplifies the dichotomy of many countries where there is abundant wealth but also extreme inequality. At this time the wall that separates Casuarinas and Pamplona Alta is less than 2000 meters long and 3 meters high.
Once more this wall highlights the segregation and discrimination that exists in Peru. Don’t get me wrong, I love my country but there are things that frustrate me about the society I live in. This division emphasizes how people unjustly correlate monetary poverty with moral poverty. As if those who live in extreme poverty also lack values and morality itself.
This wall has been theme for controversy over the past years. Some argue that it is essential in order to “keep them out” others believe that the wall encourages crime and provokes those on the other side.
Personally I was very interested about this assertion and I asked several guards of Casuarinas and they all said that crime has not increased or decreased since the construction of the wall. Therefore this raises another controversy, is the all wall really fulfilling its purpose or is it just a symbolic necessity for those who live inside “paradise?”
[Below is a picture of this massive wall and it is evident how two areas are so close and at the same time so different.]
For all of the North Star Project 2013-2014 Reports, see https://mgjnorthstarproject.wordpress.com/
For all of the North Star Project 2013 Summer Reports, see http://www2.css.edu/app/depts/HIS/historyjournal/index.cfm?cat=10
The North Star Project 2013-2014 School Year Reports: The Middle Ground Journal’s collaborative outreach program with K-12 classes around the world. We gratefully acknowledge North Star Academy of Duluth, Minnesota as our inaugural partner school, and the flagship of our K-12 outreach program. We also warmly welcome Duluth East High School and Dodge Middle School to the North Star Project.
Under the leadership of our North Star host teachers and student interns, The North Star Project has flourished for two years. For a brief summary, please see a recent article in the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:
Having re-tooled and re-designed the collaborative program, we are drawing on the experience of our veteran student interns, ideas from our host teachers, and new projects provided by our incoming student interns. This school year The Middle Ground Journal will share brief dispatches from our North Star Project student interns, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. As of the time of this report we have confirmed student interns who will be reporting from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing presentations on theatrical representations of historical trauma, historical memory, the price individuals pay during tragic global conflicts, and different perceptions of current events from around the world. We will post their brief dispatches here, and report on their interactions with the North Star students and teachers throughout the school year.
Hong-Ming Liang, Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA, 2013-2014 School Year
(c) 2014 The Middle Ground Journal, Number 8, Spring, 2014. See Submission Guidelines page for the journal’s not-for-profit educational open-access policy.
16 responses to “The North Star Project, 2013-2014 Report Number Thirty-Six, Boundaries and Poverty, Peru and the World by Pamela Hartley Pinto”
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It is interesting to think of a divide between the different classes of society. Although not many wally separate the poor and wealthy in NE MN. There are different barriers that do, things like the free way, or different bridges and large artery roads. These roads, and other physical man-made boundaries provide a similar feeling of a wall. It is interesting to see a city map and see how many of the neighborhoods are separated, it makes you want to ask did they put these highways, and main roads through these neighborhoods on purpose?
I think it is extremely sad how society tries to ‘shut off’ people who live in poverty. It happens all around the world, people who live in poverty are, many times, seen (by the ‘rich people’) as aliens. When will we live as one and not see some as superior or inferior because of their bank accounts?
It’s really sad to see the discrimination that can occur as a result of the disproportion of wealth among citizens, something that I have been able to notice in my own country as well. Building walls and trying to turn a blind to the issues that revolve around poverty and crime will simply conceal them, and will do nothing whatsoever to alleviate them.
I think this is very interesting idea. I think it is very easy for us to look at a wall built seemingly to keep poor people out as an injustice. But isn’t the wall doing the same thing as a gated community just on a larger scale? It is rich people trying to keep the poor people out for whatever reason.
I really enjoyed reading this piece. I think it shows an extreme of what happens in nearly all communities, even here in Duluth, MN. A few years ago I wrote an essay discussing my volunteer work in downtown Duluth. It really opened my eyes to the fact that there are people all around me who are in need of basic necessities. I never would have considered that my city would literally shut out those of a “lesser” class, but in a way they have. A few months ago, the city of Duluth intended to evict the homeless living underneath the highway, a place I somewhat always knew was theirs. I now realize that I don’t pay as much attention to my community as I think I do, because I could not even tell you the outcome of the protests. I think if more people acknowledged extreme situations such as the one you presented, then the more subtle scenarios would become more apparent.
It is very unfortunate that things like this are so common. I noticed this in India too where in some communities you see a gross display of wealth by a certain household when just next door you have a small shack meant for 3 that houses 7-8 people. Thanks for sharing this Pam! it was a very interesting read.
I find it incredible just how much something as abstract as borders and as arbitrary as walls mean to us and the impact they seem to have on how we identify ourselves along with the identification of the ‘other’. The Peaceline and the walls I came across in Northern Ireland were installed as security measures as well, but as a means of protecting both groups from each other as opposed protecting one group from the other. Reading this article was very interesting and provided another perspective I haven’t given much thought to. Thanks for sharing!
It is horrible how societies shut out people in poverty. They choose to shut them out and live in their bubble of wealth. This happens alot. We should all not be so quick to judge people based on their wealth or lack of.
Identity is always going to be a question of ethics and valued based on where one is placed on any given spectrum such as wealth, education, and the list can go on and on. This topic isn’t new to me in any way but I know how it feels to live on the inside and outside of a gated community. To live in the inside creates security and stability. To live on the outside is uncomfortable and makes one feel so little.
As someone from Venezuela, I, too, can attest to the stark societal contrast brought about by enormous gaps in income and wealth distribution. But, as we say in my country, the sun cannot be blocked by a finger. No matter how much the rich try to sweep poverty under a rug, slums will rise where there is space. Rather than hide the problem with walls or indifference, we ought to see what is causing the problem in the first place.
The gap between the poor and the rich is always the hardest problem to solve in one country. If a nation does not have any policies or management to fill the gap, it will lead to the poor become poorer and poorer, the rich become more and more wealthy.Sometimes the poor people are shut out of the communities and left on their own. However, this is not a permanent solution to solve this problem. Poor people are also human beings. Their dignity is also sacred and inviolable. Finding out the right solution is the major thing for us to do now.
In a different article, walls were described as a division between Protestants and catholics in Northern Ireland. This is further proof that walls are still created to keep certain populations separated. I particularly found skier1234’s comments regarding how other structures work as barriers among populations. Since living in Duluth since August, it didn’t take me long to pick up the notion that there was a perceived difference between East Duluth and West Duluth. What works as ‘the wall’ or border between the two sides of town. Is it a geographical/structural ‘wall’, or is it the zone that determines whether students attend Duluth East High School or Denfeld.
It always surprises me how much this gap exists everywhere, even though it probably shouldn’t by now. If I grew up in the wealthy part of the community and that is all I have ever known, it might be easier to ignore why the divide is such a problem. It was interesting how when the guards were asked about crime rates, they said it hadn’t changed since the wall was built.
Coming from Mexico I am also used to seeing these types of gaps in my city. We may not have a wall to separate the poorest part of Monterrey, but it sort of seems that they have their designated areas. People as in Lima will say that around those areas there is more violence, but I also think they are just giving an excuse to not help find solutions for people living in those situations.