La Rinconada in Peru: the largest municipality top of the World

Who I am
Joel Fulleda

Author and references

It is true that not all that glitters is gold, but it is also true that sometimes, often, not even gold glitters that much. No, because it is often covered with a thick blanket of unhealthy inhumanity, the most atrocious, and the most inexplicable.
To hear the epithets, it would seem a Disney fantasy with fairytale outlines: the Eldorado of Ice, the Golden Glacier. The real name, the human one, is "The corner place". That inhuman, is madness.


  1. Hell on the roof of the world: the birth of the Rinconada
  2. "
  3. The crazy pay system: el "Cachorreo"
  4. Mercury pollution and toxicity
  5. User questions and comments

Hell on the roof of the world: the birth of the Rinconada

We find ourselves in Perù, in a village / town of over 30 thousand inhabitants a 5.100 meters above sea level. And the highest country in the world, but to be honest, reading the rest of the story, this record will give very little attention.
Gods were discovered in the glacier of the same name rich gold deposits, and the corporation that took over the management selected a small group of indigenous people choosing those who, on the basis of genetic tests, showed a marked predisposition to withstand the conditions of those altitudes, namely one very little oxygenation of the air. This is how the present village was founded.
In the first years to come, the "gold rush" pushed the mad humanity to look for an unlikely fortune in the Rinconada. Today this madness makes Peru theeighth country in the world for gold export, with 3 tons per year, and this is a fact within everyone's reach. The slightly less common figure is the way in which people live and work in the Rinconada.

Living and working at La Rinconada: the "Damned of Gold"

Why i miners of the Rinconada are they so desperate? What lies behind the gold-lacquered patina of this country on top of the world? The inhumane conditions of life and work are difficult to summarize and tell. Just to give you an idea, we will say the following:

  • there is no insurance
  • there is no pension
  • there is no electricity
  • there is no running water
  • there are no sewers
  • there is no waste collection system
  • there are no hospitals
  • there are no schools
  • there is no municipality
  • there are no places for recreation
  • there is no culture

What makes us human if not all that is missing in the Rinconada? The soul. Yes, the one that miners drag every day into the bowels of the glacier, starting to work at 7 years old, with the weight on the sentence to live and die without hope in total annihilation, in a state of total suffering and decay.
I almost forgot some of the peculiarities of I work in the mine at the Rinconada:

  • there are no masks
  • there are no goggles
  • there are no gloves
  • there are no trolleys for transporting the material
  • there are no suitable tools but only old obsolete pickaxes

The crazy pay system: el "Cachorreo"

The most incredible thing? There is no salary, there is no salary, none of this. The pay method is called Cachorreo. Basically, every 30 days you are allowed to dig for 3 hours straight, and whatever you find you can take home. On the shoulder. If you find nothing, your problems. You worked for free, and the corporation thanks you. You are welcome.

Mercury pollution and toxicity

Let's not forget that we are talking about a glacier. The access galleries have temperatures that drop down to -20 degrees, and the most common method of recovering energy is chewing coca leaves. As if theimpressive toxicity caused by the daily use of mercury, essential for separating gold, but used without any human criteria. It evaporates in the ovens, breathes deeply, pollutes streams, causes fatal diseases, deformations, blindness.
To make matters worse living in the midst of excrement, with a nauseating stench, without heating. On the slopes of a glacier.
But who are these "damned of gold"? Nobody. Undocumented people, refugees, wanted people, terrorists, hit men. And indigenous, the only ones for whom, after all, the Rinconada can be almost a normality. Just as it is normal for there to be no money, everything is paid for in gold. Even bread, even sex. Death too.

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