Saturday, June 4, 2016

Slow But Promising Reforms in Lima

LIMA, Peru—After decades of struggle, residents of the Carabayllo neighborhood have seen slow but promising reforms.
“The municipality promised [the residents] a boulevard, but never fulfilled it. They come around with the same promise during election time, to get votes and free personnel [to work in their campaigns], but after elections are over, it's ‘If I saw you, I don’t remember,'” said political activist and lawyer Antonio Tavarone.
The district of Carabayllo is the largest in the country’s capital. Though Carabayllo has grown tremendously in the past 40 years, residents still remember how life used to be in the neighborhood.
During the 1960s, most of the land was used to grow cotton and sugar cane, which was exported during World War I. This area was privately owned by a few local families, while farmers worked and lived on the land. Years later, in 1969, Law 17716 gave titles to the land to the farmers that worked the land.
This was just the beginning for the residents in Carabayllo. Following the law of 1969, residents fought for basic amenities like electricity, running water, roads and transportation. Their protests demanding a better standard of living lasted three decades.
Composed of five different zones, Carabayllo is now a highly urban area. One of these zones, El Progreso, was founded in 1960. Compared to the Villa Victoria zone, also in Carabayllo, El Progreso is “smaller and not as dangerous,” said Tavarone. This area is home to various small businesses and an extensive market on the main streets, while residential homes are located along the side streets.
As he drove around the El Progreso, Tavarone noticed the transformation: “Thirty-eight years ago," he said, "there was a lot of crime in this areas. Many dangerous kidnappers and robbers came out of this neighborhood.”
Local resident Alberto Cruzado Arrollo moved into the neighborhood with his parents and siblings when he was 3 years old. He agrees with Tavarone that there have been many changes.
“This used to be a neighborhood with lots of violence. Eight famous delinquents come out of here. Most of them are dead now, but there’s a lot of people [local delinquents] that are still alive.” One of the gangs Arrollo refers to is "Las Fieras de Gañango" ("The Beasts of Gañango). The gang gained its reputation by kidnapping wealthy businessmen and robbing banks—among other illegal activities.
Tavarone explained, “Once [housing] titles were given to the residents, many people from the commercial areas sold their properties, but some exchanged them for residential homes further inside the neighborhood.”
“They weren’t kicked out,” Arrollo said, “They’ve made a different life. They’ve moved to different countries or areas. Most of the people I know from the neighborhood have gone to another country.”
The homes for residents, called “invaciones” (squatter homes) came to be out of necessity. A committee was formed by the needy families of the area to fight for legal rights to land they called home.
Years later the residents received what they fought for, and in many cases the homes proved to be safe, with no risk of eviction. But that has not always been the case:
“Look I’m going to tell you,” Arrollo said, pointing to a small structure across the street, “that house right across the street belongs to a friend. It’s been like that since I was 3 years old. The one-story house with exposed bricks has an unfinished roof with pieces of wood sticking out of it, as if was staying put by a miracle. This small home has no visible windows—it almost looks abandoned.
"They are in trouble because the mom and dad, they were the owners, but they are deceased and all their kids are adults now,” Arrollo said. “One of the sisters took her dad to do a legal document before he died. So she made him do a bill of sale for the house [giving her the title]. She then came to the house with the police to try and evict her siblings. It was such a big deal—everyone was outside fighting with the police. The siblings have been living there their whole lives and here she comes to try and kick them out of their house.”
This sister had forged her father’s signature in order to get the title transferred to her, Arrollo explained to Tavarone. The residents are now involved in an annulment process which would give them back their home.
Confrontations among neighbors and family members over ownership can quickly turn violent. “It’s about gaining possession of the property,” Tavarone said. “The new law now gives authorities 15 days to evict the squatters” so those are the stories that make national news. Arrollo remembers that the day the police came to evict his neighbors across the street one of the sisters-in-law became violent. “[She] came with a butane cylinder and lit it on fire and she kept screaming, ‘No one is going to get us out of here!’ She blew it up,” he said.
But for now, El Progreso neighborhood seems calm. The residents have adapted, and continue to demand what they deserve. Safe and clean streets, better schools and a better quality of life. In 2013, the Peruvian government scheduled repairs for the public schools, which allowed 2,000 kids to return to class. Other assistance includes medical campaigns, and housing lot actions. Earlier this month, 266 lots were auctioned in the district of Carabayllo. The money collected will be used to maintain parks in the area.
Tavarone recognizes that there is progress on the housing front as well. Historically law enforcement had 24 hours to evict squatters, but in recent years laws regarding private or state land invasions have changed. “There are many ways of getting a title. One is by possession, the other is by acquisitive prescription [acquiring property by meeting statutory requirements of possession]. . . Now, there’s a new law that gives law enforcement 15 days to clear the area,” he said.
After the 15 days have passed and the resident has maintained possession of the terrain, then it is time to start the long process that will eventually result in title to the land.
Tavarone said that even though obtaining a title can take years of legal procedures, it is worth it. Financing the legal process is a lot cheaper than paying for the actual housing lot. “We are talking about $1,000 for residents to keep their house, instead of about $800 for a square meter,” he said.
The legal process is worth the time, Tavarone said, “if you have a good lawyer.” For the people of El Progreso, it took nearly 40 years for all the residents to receive titles to their homes. “[Arroyo's] parents started the process almost 40 years ago, it is he who has been able to see the official end of it all.”

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

My boyfriend's crush?

I’m starting to think my boyfriend has a secret crush on Steve Wilkos. For the past six months my boyfriend has been watching The Steve Wilkos Show on WB11 way too much. By way too much I mean everyday, every single show that comes on air during the day.  He’s clearly obsessed.

Crush or no crush?

Since the cold weather has forced both of us to spend way too much time at home. We have found that watching The Steve Wilkos show is rather entertaining. We enjoy it so much that earlier this week we decided to take the trip to see him live.  

The show is filmed in Stamford Connecticut in the same studio as Jerry Springer and Maury.  With that being said…we knew this would be fun.

It took us about thirty minutes to drive from Tarrytown, NY to Stamford. Once there we received the free tickets for the 3:30pm show. Little did we know that we would be waiting until almost five a clock to be seated.

But NBC Universal knows how to treat their guest.  Many people come for the early shows at 10:00 am and some decide to stay for later shows. Since there’s only about a thirty-minute wait between shows, people that want to stay don’t have a chance to go out and eat.  NBC solved this problem by bringing pizza for the audience members before the show starts. That way no one complains about the long waiting time and no one goes hungry.

The shows started with a dancing contest. About five women volunteer to go on stage and dance for a chance to get a free shirt, or cup. Though it sounds simple, not many people know how to dance. My boyfriend and I laughed as these women moon-walked on stage. It was truly entertaining. 

After the dancing a prices are given away Steve Wilkos comes on stage and answers any questions the audience may have. I though that was really nice of him, to come out and interact with the people instead of just doing the show and not acknowledging the audience. He’s also a lot taller than I thought.
Soon after the show started with man trying to prove to his wife he wasn’t cheating. Luck for him, he passed the lie detector test.  Then we saw a woman accusing her sister of sleeping with her fiance. It turns out they were not sleeping together, but he did cheat on her with another woman.

Since we had nothing else to do that day, my boyfriend and I decided to stay for the second show. This time the topics were emotional and serious.

A woman accused her mother and boyfriend of beating up her to son causing the boy severe injuries.  This story was really sad because at the end, the lie detector test revealed that both the Grandmother of the child and the mother’s boyfriend had hurt the little boy.  

After being on set with Steve Wilkos I kind of understood my boyfriends weird obsession. I would definitely recommend the show, I had a lot of fun and I wouldn’t mind going to see him again. As a matter of fact, we are planning a second trip to the studio. This time to see the Jerry Springer show. I can hardly wait.   

Sunday, May 11, 2014

And I thought I might be overreacting ... Am I a perfectionist?

When I was in high school,  I really enjoyed art class. I felt like that was the only class where I could just be me. I could create whatever I wanted and they wouldn't be wrong. I looked for harder projects that would push me to make my piece perfect. It always had to be perfect.

Time passed and I never payed to much attention to my need for perfection until I started this blog.
Since this blog, I've noticed that I might be a little bit to strict with myself. I pay close attention to the way my writing looks, says, and makes others feel. I'm constantly reading and re-reading sentences hoping I can make it better.

Though my amazing professor Betty Ming Liu tells me that she sees the improvement, I feel like it's not enough. I know that there's so much improvement to be made.

One night while I was stuck writing my first blog post, I decided to search for some inspiration in Betty's blog. After reading a couple of her blog posts, I really wondered. How am I ever going to get to this point? Her writing just seems so natural and effortless.

Then I discovered that I'm not the only one suffering from this problem called "perfectionism."

Betty explains and gives steps to recovery in her blog post Don't be a perfectionist: 5 steps to recovery. 

Of course, I had to read the blog post and all the comments.  One of the comments was written by Author Hillary Rettig. She left a very useful link to her own blog where she went in depth about perfectionism in her blog post Perfectionism Defined.

So I thought I had heard it all. I had found Betty's tip to recovery and Hillary's definition of my problem. Undoubtedly I could fight this thing! or so I thought.

Oh how wrong I was. While deleting emails I found a very useful link from LinkedIn. It was titled Its Not You, It's Science: How Perfectionism Hold Women Back. I immediately clicked on it and read the New York Times article written by Jessica Bennett

In the article she writes that our perfectionism is a result of our lack of confidence. That is the reason why we hold back, and doubt ourselves. She then writes, "But perhaps the most useful aspect of all of this talk about confidence is recognizing that it's a problem at all. Knowing that it's there, that it's backed up by science, that it's not just you - and then trying to correct for it"

Silly me! here I was thinking I have a problem, well maybe I do. But it's a little comforting to know that I'm not the only woman experiencing this. There are scientific studies to prove why I cut myself short thinking I'm not good enough. 

The insight and advice I got from these three wonderful, successful  women, will come in handy. 

As I work on perfecting every angle of my life, I'm also working on my self confidence. Learning to be patient, and overcome obstacles one day at time. Maybe I will never reach my idea of perfection, but the improvements will be visible. I know that when that happens I will finally obtain the confidence I need.