This is what the streets of Puno look like right now. The town is in the middle of a massive strike. Nothing is open, no cars are running (except a few mototaxi's), people are marching the streets and blocking the roads with trash, glass and rocks. The strike started here in town on Tuesday morning. Residents from Ilave, Yunguyo and Chucuito, surrounding cities, are upset because the government has purchased land to mine. You would think that's a good thing, right?! More job availability. But, they are not in agreement with the use of the land for whatever reason. We have heard rumors that one piece of land is on a mountain in which people use for worship and human sacrifice. Drilling into this land would ruin their sacred mountain.
The first day, Tuesday, Franci and I walked to Huascar and tried to meet with some people to chat and read the Bible. Then, on Wednesday, we hiked the 2.25 miles to Yanamayo to visit contacts and check out the jail for ministry opportunities. Today, we took a mototaxi to Huascar and walked the rest of the way to Yanamayo again to continue with our weekly appointments.
Late this morning we were grateful to see a few combi's running up in Yanamayo. We felt a sigh of relif that this whole mess would be over with by the end of the day. But, while we were in Ana's house playing with Flor, her daughter, and reading the Bible with Ana and her son Richard, we heard the protestors walking down the street, marching and yelling. After the lesson with Ana and Richard, Franci and I stepped out of the house to find the protestors on the side of the road. They were not chanting but they had replaced all the rocks in the road that had been removed and were now burning hay in the middle of the road as well. We passed them quickly and quietly. As we walked closer to our next destination, we heard the protestors coming, they were marching again. We have seen protestors before, but I've never seen this many and I've never seen them this angry. They are all dressed in dark blue and black. I looked behind me to see a black wall marching and chanting in unison. We came up to Juliana's house, a little girl from our kid's class, and saw her mother frantically putting away her snack stand. (The protestors often throw rocks at anyone who is open for business during the strike. (Therefore people who are open for business during this time must close thier shop or put any evidence away before the protestors walk by.) I helped Juliana's mom carry her stand back off the road where it wouldn't be visible just in time for the 200 - 300 men and women to pass by. Thankfully they all passed without any trouble.
Tonight we have found out more of what is going on with the protestors. They have burned two police cars, broken into stores, and shut off the water to the entire city. Although Franci and I have been out in our communities alone these past few days, the situation has worsened enough that we have now been told not to leave the house until things calm down. Please keep this team and this city in your prayers that God would keep us safe and take care of us. We are already seeing a scarcity of food as there is no transportation to bring in more food and with the water shut off to the city we will be relying on the current supply of bottled water.
Check out these other posts on what is going on. On this first link there is a video. Keep in mind the Plaza where a lot of the video is filmed and where the protestors are camping out is only two blocks downhill from our house.