27 January 2010

On narrow-minded press coverage

Posted by Dave Petley

Southern Peru has for the last few days suffered extremely heavy rainfall. The Living in Peru blog reports upon the impact for local people in the province of Urubamba, Cusco. This includes
10 people killed; 2,000 collapsed houses leaving 10,000 people homeless; and crops, cattle and roads swept away. The district of Yucay is isolated due to the floods, the Vilcanota river has broken its banks on both sides, causing many local residents houses to collapse, and the police station has also been swept away.

So how does the international press report on the disaster? Like this from The Times:

Food and water dwindles as backpackers scramble to escape flood-hit Machu Picchu
British backpackers were among 1,500 tourists scrambling today to escape from Peru’s ancient Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, which has been cut off by floods and landslides since the weekend. As food supplies dwindled and hostels ran out of space, many were sleeping in the train station and the town’s main square, fighting for the few seats on rescue helicopters. “The situation is about to erupt,” Rudy Chalco, a tour guide with a group of elderly Europeans, told the Peruvian daily paper El Comercio. “We don’t have any more food, disorder is starting to reign, the soldiers and police that are here don’t know what to do or how to organise the help that has arrived, people are getting desperate and no one is taking charge.” Some tourists were prepared to pay up to $500 (£300) for a seat on one of the rescue helicopters, he said.

And so it goes on for a few more paragraphs. There is not a single mention of the plight of the local people, even though (as the article states) the authorities have declared a state of emergency.

This is the same in news reports in many other newspapers from around the world. Shameful!