Fiestas Patrias

Red and white, the colors seem omnipresent in Cuzco today. Where a month ago the rainbow seemed to appear on ever post and on many balconies, now the bicolor dominates. Today Peru celebrates its independence and itself as a country. While the focus is on Lima, every city, including Cuzco, has celebrations.

In June Cuzco celebrates itself, especially on the 24th. As a result the multicolored flag, called the flag flies. Symbolizing Tawantinsuyo–the indigenous name for the Inca Empire, it is an important symbol in Cuzco where it emphasizes the diversity of traditional Indian life.

As July comes, the emphasis shifts, and the contemporary political unit, the nation of Peru, comes to the foreground. On the 28th Peru remembers the Liberator José de San Martín’s signing of Peru’s declaration of independence from the Spanish Crown “and all other foreign domination” in 1821. Signed as well by more than three thousand persons, the document was drafted by Manuel Pérez de Tudela.

This event was not only important in Peru, but was critical for all of South America. Peru was the symbolic center of Spanish South America and was the oldest Viceroyality, the place from which all others were developed. It also had been a bastion of Spanish loyalty and Spanish strength while the winds of independence grew from a breeze to a hurricane.

Flags on the Plaza de Armas
Flags on the Plaza de Armas

Despite Spanish power in Peru, independence won and Peru stands today in pride as a sovereign, independent country, with Lima as its capital. Cuzco has great symbolic power as the seat of Tawantinsuyo and is often called “the first capital of Peru.”

Peru’s flag flies everywhere today both because of patriotism and because it is a law that people must show the colors from every building on this day. If they do not fly the flag they face a fine.

In the midst of this sea of red and white, colors that go back to Inca times, Cuzco hosted a Civic military parade yesterday. Members of the Fifth Mountain Brigade marched around the Plaza de Armas, the Main Square, arms on display, as did the National Police, the Firemen, and students from various schools as a crowd watched.

But today most ceremony is in Lima where there will be a massive military parade and the President of the Peru, Ollanta Humala, will make his way to the Congress building to present remarks on the state of Peru.

Looking At the Peruvian Fag in Machupicchu
Looking At the Peruvian Fag in Machupicchu

Many Cuzqueños. like Peruvians everywhere, will watch the events on television while drinking a Cuzqueña beer and eating peruvian food.

There is no specific code of food for this feast, no dish, other than a preference from Creole food since that often carries with it the idea of Peru as a country.

During the national celebrations, which continue through tomorrow, many families will go out to eat. Chicken shops and ceviche restaurants expect sales to increase substantially. All of the popular place to eat can expect a larger than usual crowd in honor of Peru’s 191 years of independence.

Because the holiday falls on a weekend this year, the government gave Peruvians the 27th off as well.  As a result this is a long holiday weekend and many Peruvians have traveled to other places, such as Cuzco, in a burst of internal tourism expected to generate great economic benefit.

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