Q&A with Gabriela Garcia Calderon


Gabriela Garcia Calderon is an attorney from Lima, Peru. Garcia Calderon, 40, is an arbitrator, specializing in solving conflicts through arbitration between parties. She is also a blogger and volunteer translator for the Spanish on the  Global Voices (GV) Web site.

Being a blogger wasn’t exactly part of Garcia Calderon’s plans as a lawyer, but when she started to volunteer for GV, her editor recommended she start a blog in order to understand how the whole thing works, the mechanics of blogs, blogging, etc. She started her blog in late 2007.

Born and raised in Lima, which is the capital, largest city, and economic center of Peru, Garcia Calderon she says the city’s people are just like her, regular people, struggling day by day to make ends meet. There are lots of citizens who’ve worked hard for years and that are now enjoying the results of that hard work, said Garcia Calderon.

Lima, she said, is just like any big city. In summer, it’s very common to go to the beach. There are discos and pubs and movies year-round, and families and friends gather, especially on weekends, for a good Sunday lunch.

Elections, overcrowding, traffic jams, poverty, these are a few of the main issues that Lima and Peru face today, much like many other countries around the world.

Q: How did you become involved with writing for Global Voices? And are you considered a blogger on that site also?
A: When I was about to graduate from high school, I had the big dilemma: lawyer or translator. I ended as a lawyer, but always wanted to translate. I love to learn languages, and made some independent works as translator. By late 2007, I saw in the news an interview with GV Spanish editor, and there was this note asking for volunteer translators. I sent an e-mail and that’s how I became involved with this amazing community. I started as an author in late 2009.

Q: What do you blog about? How often do you blog? How are bloggers looked upon in Lima/Peru?
A: I blog about things that happen to me or people I know. As with GV, it’s always about non- political issues. I try to post every week, mostly Thursdays. Bloggers in Peru are looked upon as people who have their say and haven’t found any other outlet to express themselves.

Q: What are the main issues in Lima today? What are the main issues in Peru as a country?
A: On Oct. 3, we voted in order to elect mayors and regional authorities for the whole country. There had been lots of problems. For example, in Lima, the results for the two main candidates (both ladies) are being very tight, with less of 1 percent between them.

The official results are still incomplete, the electoral entity has so far registered 75 percent of the registers. Normally, it is like that, but this time with such little difference, it’s kind of a problem. Although the experts say that the trend isn’t going to change, and so, the candidate with that 1 percent more of votes will be our next mayor. Although I think Peru is not prepared for an electronic vote. Moreover, we have presidential elections on April 2011 and to me there is not enough time to be all set.

All these delays are getting people to ask out loud for an electronic vote. In Peru, voting is mandatory. And the whole process is made by hand. I’ve been member of an electoral booth twice, twice as a president more exactly. You are chosen randomly, I think like citizens are chosen for jury duty in the U.S. And once the election is finished, by 4 p.m., the three members had to count votes, register the information on printed forms that are part of the electoral kit.

It’s a very tedious work, requires patience and concentration. It is done before representatives of the political groups participating in the elections, who can object. That’s the complicated part.

Lima has lots of issues: it is a overcrowded city, which has grown very unorganized. Traffic jams are very common, there are high rates of delinquency. There is huge poverty in the outskirts of the city, etc. And our new mayor will have to deal with all that.

As for Peru as a country, I think we are going through a process in which we are starting to recover our self esteem as a country. After our dark years (1980-1992) with terrorism and hyperinflation, among other problems, Peru is waking up as a winner country. And it all started by realizing our cuisine is simply unique.

Q: What are some of the challenges a blogger in Lima/Peru faces? Does anyone monitor your blog or are you free to say what you please?
A: As far as I am concerned, no one monitors what I write. Not me, nor any other blogger I know. Yes, I feel we are all free to say whatever we please… always within the rules of basic etiquette.

Q: How is the United States viewed in Lima?
A: Most people still view the U.S. as the land of opportunities, academically and for business matters.

Flag of Lima

 View Gabriela’s blog.

By Felicia Dechter

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