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Trifles light as air

Excellent report on the La Rinconada gold mine, Peru

We’ve pointed you to reports on the hellhole that is La Rinconada before, but today’s offering really is a cut above the rest. Written by Marie Arana and illustrated by photos from the lens of Gina Nemirofsky, it’s a great piece of journalism published by the Virginia Quarterly Review. Here’s an excerpt, plenty more on the link here:

“The mines at La Rinconada are called “informal,” a euphemism for illegal, a status without which Peru’s economy would screech to a standstill. For forty years now, the Peruvian government has turned a blind eye to increasingly wretched conditions in this remote community, its government agents unwilling to scale the heights, brave the cold, take control. In the interim, what was once a region of crystalline lakes and leaping fish—replete with alpaca, vicuña, chinchilla—has become a Bosch-like world that beggars the imagination. The scrub is gone. The earth is turned. What you see instead, as you approach that distant glacier, is a lunar landscape, pitted with rust-pink lakes that reek of cyanide. The waterfowl that were once abundant in this corridor of the Andes are gone; no birds flap overhead, save an occasional vulture. The odor is overwhelming; it is the rank stench of the end of things: of burning, of rot, of human excrement. Even the glacial cold, the permafrost, the whipping wind, and driving snows cannot mask the smell. “

Now go get it all and find out who Senna Ochochoque is while you’re over there, because you’ll be glad you did and it may help put your own petty neuroses into perspective. Today’s must-read.

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