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Problems in Pucusana

Updated: Feb 27, 2019

In this article you will read about the problems Pucusana faces with the Fishing Industry, Tourism, The Catholic Church, Family Dynamics and Education.  

Pucusana is a small fishing village located 60 km (37miles) south of Lima, Peru. Although mostly seen as a tourist destination, Pucusana is the poorest village on the coast of Peru. The people of Pucusana financially depend on the fishing industry and the summer tourism.

In past decades, Peru was known as one of the worst politically corrupt countries in the world. It ranks 35th most generally corrupt with four of its past presidents going to prison. Their crimes include but were not limited to: crimes against humanity, murder, perjury, fraud and embezzlement. If the Presidents are this bad, how much worse is everyone else? Broken government often leads to broken systems. Corruption is everywhere and in almost every single political or financial power in Peru. Our poor little fishing village of Pucusana is no exception.

The Fishing Industry:

During the fishing season, hundreds of colorful wooden fishing boats dock in Pucusana’s port, which is located near the center of the town. Large fishing companies from Lima and export their fish to the city from Pucusana. The fishing industry is dominated by men who quit school before the age of 15 in order to help their families financially. Their fathers did it before them and their grandfathers before that. Fishing is what they average person in Pucusana knows and therefore does.

But the fishing industry is a sessional trade dominated by large and usually corrupt companies. Each family from Pucusana who works in the fishing industry tries to obtain their annual income in three-four months. And while these companies seem to make plenty of money, the fisherman and truck drivers barley make enough money to survive.

In addition to low wages, the fisherman do not have health benefits, insurance or compensation for injuries obtained while spending months out at sea. Many of the men in Pucusana have missing fingers, hands, arms or legs due to the dangers of commercial fishing.

So many of the unhealthy community and family dynamics in Pucusana come from the underpaid and unfair treatment of the fisherman. This has lead so many of the man to live stressful, crippled, jaded lives medicated with alcohol. Domestic violence is high and many of the children living in Pucusana have been abandoned by their fathers entirely.

Summer Tourism:

Tourism during the summer time is the only way Pucusana survives as a town. Hundreds of upper-class families come to Pucusana for its beautiful beaches from December to March each year. The beaches are packed with people who will eat in the local restaurants, buy cloths from the shops and items from the markets. While the tourism enables the economy for a few months, Pucusana is left deserted and still devastatingly poor for the rest of the year.

The tourism always brings a lot of division and hardship for the people in Pucusana that you wouldn't expect. The wealthy who come to stay during the summer rent and live in beautiful homes built around Pucusana's Island and largest beach called Naplo. A single tunnel draws the line between the rich in Naplo and the poor in Pucusana on your way to the beach. On one side of the tunnel you have Pucusana City and the barrios, on the other side, Naplo beach, million-dollar apartments and houses with private docks, the Yacht Club, and it's all owned by the rich for the rich. Ironically, all tourist drive through the barrios to enter into the natural beauty Pucusana offers; but instead of being moved to help the underprivileged, the wealthy community builds fences and place private security around their homes and beaches to keep the native Pucusanian people out, isolating them in their own town for at least four months out of every year. 

You see this division of the classes on the other side of Pucusana city in regards to an area similar but not as large as Naplo called Ninfas (beach of the Nymphs) and the Island across the fishing dock. All three of these locations are full of Peru’s wealthiest businessmen, politicians and famous. For decades the upperclass people have summered in Pucusana with no real regard for the devastating poverty and barrios, but instead fight with the locals over land and who's allowed on it, trash in the streets, beach and ocean and the loud drunken night culture of the town. So much division and little to no effort is done to help each group better the community, leading the entire town of Pucusana to suffer culturally and financially. 

The tourism in Pucusana is a double-edge sword. Greatly needed but also contributing to the many issues Pucusana faces (and could be easily fixed with an incorrect major). While these people greatly support the economy of Pucusana in the summer and despite the few who have tried to help alleviate the poverty surrounding them, the majority of the wealthy do what they can to segregate, discriminate and keep at arms length the people of Pucusana, claiming they are filthy, disgusting and unsafe to be around.

And sadly the problems of Pucusana do not stop there.


Peru is a religiously free country. Meaning you won’t be thrown in jail for whatever religion you choose to believe in. But the Catholic Church and Catholic Private Schools receive tremendous tax breaks and even receive money from the federal government to pay their workers and teachers; while no such deals exist for other religious churches or private schools. All the money raised or paid to other religious Churches and schools goes toward taxes and back into the facility; while Catholic Church and school pocket the majority of their tuition and donations. This might be okay if the Catholic church was required to put the money saved toward helping communities and offering programs but it is not and they do nothing of the sort.

So while "religiously free"; if you are not connected to the Catholic Church then your job in education or charity will be very difficult and your facility will constantly be in an uphill battle with government regulations, fees and taxes... and sometimes straight up boycotting.  

In addition, Pucusana (unlike some of the more financially stable and larger cities in Peru) is oppressed by the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church in Pucusana is quit corrupt in its theology and political views. Unlike the reformed conservative Catholic Church known in the United States, the Catholic Church in Pucusana is a good representation of how Catholicism was hundreds of years ago.

One example is how the local Priests have received pay-offs from the City Major to use the pulpit as a platform to tell the people who to vote for. Political corruption has no limits and uses many different kinds of people to influence the reelection of corrupt politicians. Pay-offs, land titles, forgiveness of debts are all ways past Majors have used to buy votes, and it happens often inside the Catholic ministerial order and congregation. This type of hypocrisy is wildly known in Pucusana and causes many young people to want nothing to do with church.

The Catholic Church facility in Pucusana is one of the largest, most beautiful buildings; but they provide little to no social programs for the poor. Instead of encouraging quality education of the poor, they have actually demanded the absence of certain parts of world history (the history that sheds poor light on the Catholic Church) to not be taught in schools. Certain congregants even encourage mothers to take their children out of Christian schools that teach these parts of history or religious values counter to what the Church teaches.

This kind of oppression keeps those who decide to attend church ignorant and uneducated to the real love, grace, power and relationship God has to offer them. Instead of receiving freedom from sin and an encouraging community connected through prayer and worship, the religious are guilt ridden, legalistic and judgmental.

The people of Pucusana, like most religiously jaded people, have come to hate the Church and want nothing to do with organized religion. Never hearing about God in a healthy way at home, most young people reject Christ all together. In my years working with the youth in Pucusana, many of them would identify as Atheist but are too afraid to claim it for fear of persecution and exile.  How are we to preach the true love of God to the lost when unbelievers are too afraid to question out load? They end up missing out on the freedom Christ truly offers and the incredible power from the Holy Spirit that can actually change their lives!

Family Dynamics:

In addition, common Catholic belief forbids sex education in schools and birth control is greatly frowned upon, which leads us to the current statistics in Peru:

  • 60% of teenagers do not use protection (condoms or birth control) when having sex.

  • 50% of all girls in Peru between ages 15-19 will become pregnant out of marriage.

  • 75% of women (married and unwed) will have one if not two children before they are 20 years old.

  • 60% of the teenage girls who became pregnant outside marriage will get married to the baby’s father during pregnancy solely because of their parents religious beliefs.

  • Over 60% of those marriages end in divorce, separation or spousal abandonment.

  • 1 and 3 women are physically or sexually abused by their husbands.

  • The majority of children are raised by one parents or a family relative.

The average family dynamic consists of an overworked, (usually Alcoholic and abusive) often absent father; mothers raising anywhere from three to eight children on less than $5 a day; both parents most likely not happily married and children being raised with little to no structure at all. This has led to an endless generational cycle of broken family dynamics.


And lastly, the Public School System in Pucusana has an average college acceptance rate for high school graduates of 2%. Currently, attending University is the only way for individuals to step out of the poverty they were raised in. So with only 2 out of every 100 students being accepted into College, let alone not being able to afford it, leads to more generational poverty.

The acceptance rate is so low because of the poor level of education and care for students in the public schools. The average adult in Pucusana is at the literacy level of a 6th grader. You see, in the public schools teachers receive pay based on how many students are passing their classes. The idea is, if you’re a good teacher, than your students will get good grades. This concept leads teachers in the public schools to simply passing on all their students into the next grade no matter how badly they struggles in class. And MOST students struggle with grades and proper conduct because of their horrible family dynamics and home lives. They act out in violence and struggle with learning.

Most children and adults in Pucusana struggle at an elementary school level with reading, math and science and have no understanding of food nutrition or environmental health. Pucusana’s coastline and beaches are trashed by the fisherman who have no idea how much ocean pollution directly effects their trade. Countless people suffer from water born illnesses because they drink unclean water and most adults struggle with Diabetes and obesity because of the cheap items they eat. Lack of quality education is at the forefront of Pucusana's issues.

All of these problems and many more have led to Pucusana becoming Peru’s poorest city on the coast. The Barrios seem to be growing and nothing is being done about it. These people don’t know any better and those who do, have no hope for social change. The situation seems helpless.

And that’s why we created The Pucusana Project.

Please check out our “About” and “Projects” pages to learn how The Pucusana Project is helping alleviate poverty, provide higher quality education, enable social and community change and launch businesses in Pucusana Peru.


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