Sterilization of Peruvian/Andean Women Disc/Mar 1998


Sterilization of Peruvian/Andean Women Disc/Mar 1998


Query From Jaime Staraitis 18 Mar 1998

Hello! I am new to the list, but it looks remarkably healthy and helpful. I am graduating this spring with a BA in Spanish and need help with this research project, my senior thesis: Mandatory sterilization of Peruvian/Andean women.

I just returned from a 3 month trip to South America and found that this is a pretty hot topic. I've been relatively successful finding newspaper articles, esp. the NYT February 15 article, which is pretty central to my thesis. However, all the books I've so far encountered are not specific to sterilization, though they do a good job of detailing Peruvian women's suffering and situations.

I was wondering if anyone could point me in the direction of some key, fundamental books or long journal articles that deal with sterilization in Peru. I really don't know if there has been a landmark work published on this topic. What do you suggest? I prefer material in Spanish, but English is ok, too. Much appreciated!


From Nancy Marie Robertson 19 Mar 1998

The following suggestion is a bit off point, may want to track down a 1969 Bolivian film directed by Jorges Sanjines, "Blood of the Condor," which was set in a fictitious Latin American country and denounced the involvement of a U.S. Peace Corps-like agency engaging in sterilization abuse. I saw it 20 years ago and remember being impressed.

From Christine Ehrick 19 Mar 1998

It is hard to locate these days, but you might try and locate a copy of the Bolivian film, "Blood of the Condor,"(made in the early '70s, I believe), which deals precisely with the topic of sterilization of Andean women.

From Thomas A. Abercrombie 20 Mar 1998 [Cross-post from H-LatAm]

On "Blood of the Condor": This is a powerful film produced by the Sanjines group, depicting a Peace Corps operation for the sterilization of indigenous women. It has had a significant impact on Bolivian politics (leading to a plank in the platform of the MRTK indianista party denouncing family planning programs as an ethnocidal yanki plot), and led to the expulsion of Peace Corps from the country for many years. They are back now. It should be noted that the Peace Corps did not in fact run a sterilization program. Instead, an unfortunate event churned through the rumor mill (which includes the press) until the government was forced to act, which substantiated the rumors in the public eye. As far as I know, the following is what actually happened:

An idealistic volunteer, besieged by Andean women seeking information on birth control (this part of the scenario is familiar to all who have done fieldwork in the countryside). The volunteer referred one woman elsewhere, and she was in fact sterilized, as I recall from published accounts by Peace Corps volunteers and directors. What I do not recall is where I read those accounts. One, I think, was in the Bolivian Times (an English language paper in La Paz), perhaps in 1995. Incoming volunteers learn the story and avoid dispensing birth control information.

In 1988, rumors circulated wildly through the country about an American couple who had purchased an infant in the countryside, then cut it open to stuff it with cocaine to smuggle back into the US. Rumor led to press reports, and then legislative action, a law requiring both parents' signed consent on a license before children could travel on the highways. Officials then boarded buses and trucks inspecting such documents for many months before the scare died down. As it turned out, the source of the rumor was a short story published in the literary section of Presencia, a respectable La Paz newspaper.

From Raysa E. Amador 20 Mar 1998

You can find the film, "Blood of the Condor," in New Yorker Films. They have it. Their address is: 16 West 61st Street, New York, New York 10023 Ph: 212-247-6110

Also the film "La Operacion," which is about Puerto Rico and the sterilization of women is a good film, about the sterilization of women in all of Latin America. The NY Times recently ran an article on the sterilization of Peruvian(?) women and the possible involvement of the United States. Try to check the home page of the NY Times.

From Lee Polansky 20 Mar 1998

May, Elaine Tyler _Barren in the Promised Land_ discusses sterilization outside of the U.S.

From Christine Ehrick 20 Mar 1998

University of Minnesota has a copy of "Blood of the Condor" on 35mm, as does UCLA (I have been told that their copy is in pretty bad shape). Otherwise, there is no way to buy a copy of the film (I have done a lot of checking). It is unfortunately totally out of print with no US distributor and no plans to get a new one. Too bad, because it's an important film.

From Heather Thiessen-Reily 23 Mar 1998

You should try to get hold of the film "Blood on the Condor." ...I think the Peace Corps was kicked out of Bolivia due to this issue. It has only been in the last few years the Peace Corps has been allowed back into Bolivia.

From Alexandra Minna Stern 23 Mar 1998

I am not sure what period you are working on, but I am currently doing research on eugenics in Latin America and know that there was a Peruvian Eugenics Society that started up in the 1940s. Two of the main proponents were the social reformers/doctors named Susana Solano and Carlos Bambaren. Here I just pulled out of my file cabinet: Segunda Jornada Peruana de Eugenesia, published in Lima in 1943 and there are articles related to sterilization, motherhood, etc. My notes say that I got it from UC Berkeley's NRLF Facility through Interlibrary Loan, HQ 750 A3J6. You might want to check it out. I can recommend many books on sterilization & eugenics in the U.S. but am not sure what you are looking for. Please tell me more about your project.