La Oroya <
Workers from the Doe Run plant proudly display a photograph from more prosperous times.
The Doe Run smelter stack in the the Mantaro River valley.
Domingo Rosales sells refreshments on the bridge where workes at the Doe Run plant in La Oroya pass each day. Rosales says that when the plant was running full capacity his sales would reach 40 neuvo sol per day but now he is lucky to sell 20.
The Doe Run Smelter complex is seen across the river from Old La Oroya.
Mother and Daughter doing laundry along the Mantaro river north of the smelter where the fumes from the smelter never drift. They earn extra income from washing laundry for anyone willing to pay six nueva sols per 12 pieces of clothing.
Mother and Child.
Wearing black for one year is still the mourning tradition for this shepherdess, having lost her husband. Chewing the traditional cocoa leaves while herding her 80 goats to pasture land helps with the altitude and hunger.
“Huelga” or Strike proclaims the red sign at the front of the union hall during a membership meeting of the unions employed by the Doe Run Company. Before the meeting Secratarie General, Roiberto Guzman Estrada explained that the timing was not right for a strike as the facility is not running at full capacity because of Doe Run’s financial difficulties with mineral suppliers. The union is fighting for a benefit package including revenue sharing increase.
Members of the Ramon Castilla high school band perform Himno de La Oroya during the assembly for Feliz Dia Madre.
Workers in La Oroya.
Football in the schoolyard.
Students rush out of school after a Friday afternoon assembly.
La Oroya is nestled high in the Andes of central Peru three to four hours east of Lima, many tourist pass
through here on their way from Lima to Huancayo or Huancavalica, few will spend any time in what
the Blacksmith institute has twice listed as one of the top ten polluted places on the planet.
The smelter in La Oroya is much quieter now than in its heyday of the seventies and eighties but the
evidence of its industrious past can be witnessed on the hillsides throughout the Mantaro river valley.
Nelly Arroyo, who was born in La Oroya but left in 1988, retells her grandfather's stories who as a boy
played in the once green hills surrounding old La Oroya where now nothing will grow.
While NGO’s attempt to help the self proclaimed metallurgical capital of Peru by putting pressure on
the Government and Doe Run, the people of this town are caught in the middle trying to understand
why after 80 years, there is now so much attention being focused on the contamination.