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Politics | July 26, 2011 [ 15:43 ]

Opinion: Is the National Stadium for all Peruvians?


By Víctor Vich for LaMula.pe
Translated and edited by Jorge Riveros-Cayo


Opinion: Is the National Stadium for all Peruvians?
The National Stadium was inaugurated by president Alan García last Sunday, despite it has not been finished. (Image: LaMula.pe)

Beyond the accusations about the constant budget excesses, the truth is that the photographs of the new National Stadium are shocking. Not because of its modern design or the funny lights on the exterior structure of the stadium, but instead due to its eloquent remodeling that seems to have been done to benefit a minority and not to accommodate a larger amount of spectators. The excessive boxes built have been privatized in benefit of that minority that can enjoy the economic growth.

How could such an architectural design be approved? How is it possible that the remodeling of the National Stadium was planned for only the benefit of a few? What happened is incredible and shameful, not only, as I said, because of the undeniable evidences of budget mismanagements, but for the symbology of its new design and what it represents: The condescending enjoyment of those that have power to mark the difference between the rich and the poor.

Is there any questioning among our Peruvian liberal thinkers about the limits of how the capital should function and the power it serves? Some years ago, in the middle of an electoral campaign, Woodman – current president of the Peruvian Sports Institute (IPD) – was accused for being “the candidate of the rich,” not because of the wealth he actually has, but instead for representing a “vision of the world” that ignores inequality, and that seems to promote it instead, and that doesn’t seem compromised in fighting it back.

I’ll explain myself: Any stadium from any private sports club has the right to build all the exclusive boxes it can. But the National Stadium cannot follow such a model because it is a “national” site, a public place for all. Hence, its design should have had in mind to promote an experience of integration instead of encouraging hierarchy and disparity.

The authoritarianism that exists in Peru doesn’t only refer to a lifestyle but to the way public management is executed. Nowadays, we witness a “capital authoritarianism” that wipes out anything in its way. Today we observe, more and more, the oppressive presence of economic power and its unlimited exercise over cities and citizens. Far from having learned something from the last decades, in Peru we keep observing the absolute lack of interest to neutralize existing hierarchies, at least at a symbolic level.

During this last presidential campaign, we were told that in order to have “chorreo” – the dripping of the so called economic growth – first there should be a major generation of wealth. But what is actually happening is totally the opposite. The more wealth there is, the more hierarchies that appear and a more sophisticated system of social exclusion is built. The new boxes of the remodeled National Stadium are an excellent example of this. They are horrendous because they are a clear sign of a period marked by absolute tyranny of the capital, and the complicity of a State that is passively subjugated to its power.

In the past, architects had in mind the collective organization of space that, in theory, belonged to everybody. This is why, fifty years ago, the National Stadium was designed with smaller soccer fields surrounding it. It was an open and friendly place profoundly integrated with the population. Today it is exactly the opposite. It can be quite of a bad taste to say it now, but when Peruvians start to attend the games of our soccer team at the National Stadium, what we will sadly see is a sports building that will confront us, once again, with a harshly fragmented society, (maybe much more than before) and insistently hierarchical.

Regardless of the optimistic speeches that circulate about progress and development, we still have in Peru a social enjoyment to mark inequalities and to be delighted by them. In the very few days left of his administration, president Alan García keeps inaugurating hideously monumental buildings, many of them badly constructed or not finished. Is this a successful and democratizing government? “Ha, ha,” I would say as Bryce’s stupendous book title.




Víctor Vich is an associate professor at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (PUCP) and a principal researcher at the Instituto de Estudios Peruanos (IEP). 
He is one of the most insightful academics in Peru today.

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4 Comments

# Edson says :
July 26, 2011 [ 17:36 ]

I'm a middle class guy and I don't like those expensive boxes either, not because I can't buy one, but because I think stadiums should have more stands rather than apartment-like boxes, I heard that the government built them to recover or maybe double its investment, anyway, progress is good but like Mr. Vich said it should benefit all Peruvians... Cheers

# Rene says :
July 26, 2011 [ 23:03 ]

Let's turn that around, if the National stadium should be for every Peruvian, then every Peruvian should contribute to the build as well. However, as of today there are still many Peruvians that do not pay a cent in taxes. I think this social principle doesn't need to be applied to every single investment the government makes, it needs to address the needs of all the people, both poor and rich, and that may include some luxuries every once in a while for the rich as well. It is the rich after all that pay the majority of the taxes that are being spend.

# Peru-N-English Blog says :
July 27, 2011 [ 10:03 ]

There needs to be big rewards for big success. Did I bust my tail working and paying taxes to stand in line with the poorest of poor? Not a chance! There needs to be big rewards for succeeding, for innovation and for hard work or there will be none of the modern benefits that we all enjoy.
.
Maybe Professor Víctor Vich doesn’t work hard enough to understand the realities of incentive, motivation and drive and their relationship to societal advancement. But if he’s so guilty he is free to give what he earns to the poor. But then the whole mantra of the liberal elite is to control other peoples money, not give their own. Not surprisingly conservative donations far exceed liberal donations.

If you don’t want to be poor stop having babies, start working hard and saving and get yourself educated. If you can’t do that where you are, then move. That’s what successful people do. Giving things away creates people that expect to have things given to them. Why work!?

# ET says :
July 27, 2011 [ 20:53 ]

The building of the new Stadium surely has its negatives and positives. Sadly, Professor Víctor Vich choses to focus on the negative aspects which I believe are the minority.

Why can't Peru have a state of the art, awesome, capitalistic, elite stadium to showcase to the world? Why can't the stadium be rich and decadent enough to attract big international headliners, famous football teams, other sporting events and worldwide attention? And why can’t the government build such a great stadium to generate money for the country? Why can't everyone think of the tremendous economic boost from the design, construction, event planning, transportation, ticket sales, merchandise sales and just about any commercial medium that generates money?

A weak argument towards the social inequality that luxury boxes portray fails to explain why the original idea (fifty years old now) did not succeed. An outdated idea like that could not succeed today because if it is not generating money, no one wants to be part of it and the stadium starts rotting again.

Simply put, if Peru wants to compete and be part of the global economy, I cannot complain when people are doing something about it (building a stadium) rather than just talking about it.

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