La Rinconada, into the gold’s bubble
La Rinconada, Peru, 2009-2013
La Rinconada is a remote village in Los Andes, in southern Peru, nearly 6,000 meters high and with a lot of gold underground.
The rising price of gold over the last ten years (almost 300%) has pushed many people to move to La Rinconada looking for job opportunities. Today, more than 40,000 people live there (ten times more than two decades ago). But gold is also an economic bubble where La Rinconada is living, likely to deflate at any time (right now its price is experiencing a significant drop).
The desperate search for gold has introduced an element of chaos in La Rinconada. They have built uncontrollably thousands of metallic shelters throughout the city. There is no running water or sewage. An almost nonexistent police force can not prevent common crimes, illegal prostitution and drug trafficking. Rubbish and excrement are everywhere and the contamination level is dangerous. Pollution and the high altitude of La Rinconada causes respiratory diseases and growth problems among children. The local medical center barely covers 10% of the needs of the population.
Except for a minority of businessmen, mining families are under some terrible life and work conditions and they normally invest their profits in alcohol consumption and, especially, in buying expensive clothes for Carnival or the annual festivities in their localities. Most of the residents is La Rinconada, from the rural areas, don’t plan their savings for a long-term future and they continue going to La Rinconada for more and more gold. At least, while the bubble does not burst.