Fr. Ed O’Connell’s latest update from the heart of the political crisis in Peru

Fr. Ed O'Connell is a Columban Father who has been working in Peru for the last 38 years. He provides an update of the Covid-19 situation in Peru and explains how people in his community are pulling together to support one another.

The total number of cases of coronavirus on the 18th November in Peru was 941,951 (49% in Lima and Callao) and 35,402 deaths (50.2% in Lima and Callao). Of those who have died, 70% are elderly, 29% are adults and 1% are young people, adolescents and children. The curfew in Peru is from 11pm to 4am. From November people can go to beaches Monday to Thursday/ Churches will be opened from mid November onwards with Masses for those from 14 to 65 years of age. 30% of normal attendance is allowed and only in those chapels which have good ventilation. The number of new cases fluctuates each day but now remains around 2,000. The deaths, sadly but in a way gratefully, are now under 50 a day.  There is serious planning by the Ministry of Health for a second wave of the virus that might start mid December and could reach 9,000 new cases a day very quickly.

I accompany Manuel Duato Special Needs School, a Columban project. The teachers have been in virtual contact for 7 months now with the parents and through them with nearly 400 children. The attendance in these virtual sessions by the parents has been outstanding with better percentages than most primary schools.


We have helped 44 families on three occasions with amounts around £25 each time. The teachers are exhausted and worried. The latest update from the social worker at the beginning of November was that 6 students had Covid19, 2 were in treatment, 1 had relapsed and was critical and 3 have recovered. The number of cases of parents, teachers and other family members with Covid19 had increased. Now 67 parents had been affected, 3 fathers have died, 4 parents have relapsed, 8 are in treatment and 52 have recovered. Of the staff, 17 teachers and 39 of their family members have Covid19, 4 teachers and 11 of their family members are in treatment, 2 teachers have relapsed, 11 teachers have recovered as well as 15 family members but 13 family members sadly have died. I have recently given financial support to nine families who either have a special needs child with Covid19 or are families with one or member with the virus or other serious illness and are in dire financial difficulties.

The Warmi Huasi project accompanies children at risk in both San Benito, in the district of Carabayllo, and in the Province of Paucar de Sara Sara, high up in the Andes mountains in the department of Ayacucho.

Our Warmi Huasi team  in both San Benito and Ayacucho are in touch constantly with the parents, teachers and municipal officials about the welfare of the children. We have given out all the books from the reading clubs so that the children have the books to read at home. We also have radio programs with the children in Ayacucho, reading stories and getting them to send in their own. The number of cases of Covid19 is on the increase in Pausa since the bus service resumed.


In San Benito, the mothers of the four homework clubs run their communal kitchens and a key local community leader started another. The latest figures for the beginning of October suggest that a 165 families have been helped. With an average of 5 people per family, around 825 people have received a meal each day. Add to that number the social cases the communal kitchens have taken on, 107 extra meals, gives you the grand total of 932 meals served altogether. We have been helping each communal kitchen with the purchase of foodstocks, especially vegetables, and with bio-security equipment.

We now have a political crisis on our hands. The Congress voted out the President. How constitutionally legal it was is another question, yet to be resolved. The President of the Congress was installed as “President”, given that there are no remaining Vice-Presidents! All of this in the face of 86% of the population wanting the ousted President to remain in charge and face charges if there are any, after completing his term next July. The new “President” is repudiated by the 86% of the people for having entered purely out of self interest, his and that of other congress people, 68 of whom also have charges against them. They seem totally oblivious to the health and economic crisis in which the country is situated!

Latest update: There have been many protests all over the country, led by the millennium generation of students. Sadly on Saturday evening (14th November) two students were shot dead by the police here in Lima, plus  94 were wounded and about 10 disappeared. As I said,  it may well cost the spilling of blood before it is resolved and it did. That new “President” resigned on the Sunday (15th November) repudiated by the people. Another President to be, was elected by Congress, but only out of the congress members who had not voted for the removal of the legitimate President. A 76 year old engineer was installed on Tuesday (17th November) .The people were still out on the streets to pay their respects to the families of the two students, and to keep the pressure on the Congress to act according to the wishes of the people. Most of the political class are repudiated for their self interest and lack of willingness to serve the common good.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring? Keep us in your thoughts and prayers.

Find out more

The Warmi Huasi project in Carabayllo, Lima during the Covid 19 health emergency has implemented new strategies to empower children at risk through advocacy and active citizenship in Lima and Ayacucho, supported by government officials, mothers and adolescents. Read the attached PPT document to find out more.

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