It is official, I will be forced to deal with Alfredo, this 24 year old mayor of my town, for another year. Don´t get me wrong, I see nothing wrong with youth being involved in politics, even at a high level such as mayor. But this guy has barely got a high school degree, and zero work experience exept for the last botched year that he spent as mayor of my town.
The campaigning that has kept me up late at night for the past 2 months and has forced me to put a hold on some projects finally came to an end last night. As they carried Alfredo through the town square on their shoulders, the whole town was there to watch the results of the days elections. Half the crowd cheered and jump up and down as they chanted the campaign slogan, "¡Alfredo es la voz!". The other half started in awe, anger, disgust (ok maybe I was the only one with disgust on my face), and shock as Alfredo reached his campaign headquarters. There he gave a speach, which might I add, was the first one he gave throughout his entire campaign. He is not, how do you say... gifted in the realm of public speaking. Or in my opinion, speaking in general.
Why am I so opposed to Alfredo? Well, he was the reason I came to Grocio Prado. He was excited to have me here, and asked Peace Corps to "please send a business volunteer to their town". However, since the day I arrived he has avoided me at all costs, and done little to help me with my projects in the town. I don´t want to get into all the things he has done to me personally... but lets just say, I was really looking forward to working with a new mayor.
Elections here are much different than in the states. Here, everyone must vote, and if they don´t they have to pay a fine of about S/75.00, which is a lot of money to poeple here, it´s what most people make in 1 or 2 weeks. Anyways, since everyone votes, the campaigns are run differently. Each candidate tries to get their name out as much as possible, so they paint the town red! well, ok they paint the walls in all the town with campaign parafanalia. And they give out t-shirts and flags to as many people as possible. Then they hold "meetings" every other night. In these meetings each candidate chooses a street in town to block with their stage, they set up speakers and basically hold a campaign party in the middle of the street. They las til 12:00 or 1:00am. My host family loves them, they were at a Meeting every other night... It was their best option for socializing in the past few months I guess.
Also each candidate has a headquarters in the middle town square where they blast music all day long. I´m not exagerating either, they play the music so loud, it would be illegal in the U.S. To top it off though, they pay people for votes, and I guess it´s not illegal?
Well anyways, thats all I´ve got for now. This country continues to amaze me :)