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In the Mayor’s Footsteps: Peru cover image

In the Mayor’s Footsteps: Peru 2011


Distributed by Bullfrog Films, PO Box 149, Oley, PA 19547; 800-543-FROG (3764)
Produced by Ernesto Cabellos
Directed by Steve Bradshaw
DVD, color, 26 min., English and Spanish with English subtitles

Sr. High-General Adult
Child Development, Children, Domestic Violence, Education, Latin American Studies, Political Science, Sociology

Date Entered: 07/13/2012

Reviewed by Wendy Highby, University of Northern Colorado

In the Mayor’s Footsteps: Peru chronicles a fact-finding mission of the newly-elected leader of the Huamanga province of Peru. Mayor Amilcar Huancahurai is a champion for the social welfare of children. He embarks on a tour of Peru to discover how government programs can intervene to promote the healthy development of young children. The children of Huamanga have grown up in a province haunted by the legacy of a violent past. In the 1980s, the province was wracked with violence involving the guerrilla group Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso). The Mayor seeks to break this negative cycle, and to curb all types of violence (domestic, political, and criminal).

Steve Bradshaw’s documentary follows the Mayor to his first destination, the city of Iquitos in the Amazon region. The Mayor interviews kindergarten teachers who emphasize the importance of early education. This confirms the Mayor’s belief that nurturing experiences during the early years of life are key to healthy development. At the NGO refuge called “Restinga” or “Sanctuary,” the Mayor observes a gardening class designed to teach children about nutrition and to mitigate hunger. In addition to the problem of malnutrition, the Mayor also learns about the pervasiveness of child labor in Peru. He interviews Andrés, a 13-year-old who was a boat driver before being rescued by Restinga. The Sanctuary uses theater, games, and art projects to re-socialize children and families toward non-violence and away from the poverty, alcoholism, and domestic violence that are prevalent in the Belén district. Next, the Mayor visits Lima, the capital of Peru, and talks with a fellow politician. He learns that the government is prioritizing programs that focus on malnourishment, birth registration, and centers for early child development. The Mayor travels internationally, via Skype, and interviews the psychologist Dr. Kaethe Weingarten of Harvard Medical School’s Witnessing Project. She explains how the trauma of political violence passes from one generation to the next.

Upon his return to Ayacucho, the Mayor resolves to create a new and just society. His next step will be the creation of a child development center for children and their parents. Mayor Amilcar Huancahurai is a refreshingly unique figure, a politician who puts children first. Director Steve Bradshaw has created an upbeat film documenting the Mayor’s quest to end the cycle of violence, and to create safe, loving, and nurturing environments for children. The DVD would support courses in family studies, policy studies, social work, and education. The documentary should be viewed by those with an interest in the provision of social services to children and families, and it is particularly recommended viewing for those who are concerned about the intersection of child development and public policy.