- An Interview with Felipe Carrillo Rivas*
Would you talk about the kind of work you currently do?
I came to this town of El Carmen of Chincha when I was about eleven to make a life for myself. But by the time I was seven years old, I already worked in the cotton fields, which were part of the industry at the hacienda. When I came to Lima, I became interested in this problem of my race because I saw that in the town of El Carmen, people were very complacent. There were few who left the place, and the rest just did circles there. I would ask myself from an early age why couldn't we advance? From there was born the idea to start to investigate, to search for something about my race. I have always had the idea of planting an alternative of change so people will abandon complacency. The role of teacher also sometimes inspires me to write some things, like life experiences. And at the private college Claretiano I have worked for thirty-six years. I am a social sciences professor. I have published some things in a Chincha magazine. Many years ago, I also published a collection of poetry. But there are a number of problems. Here in Peru things sometimes can't be done like you want, especially because of economic issues. Or you have to be at institutions where others can help you.
How many other young people your age left El Carmen as you did?
A curious thing is that I was the first from my town to become a professional. Many would come to Lima because in El Carmen there was only education up to the third grade. Whoever wanted to study more had to go to the provincial capital, which was quite difficult because of the parents' economic situation. But luckily we came to Lima and I could study. Others who have become teachers later have done so through technical careers. I, on the other hand, had my education and I also devoted myself to follow many courses. Above all, I have dedicated myself to work with issues dealing with young people, where we first of all have to try to raise self-esteem. Particularly in my town of El Carmen, people are complacent. They finish high school and they stay there. Some of them go to the capital, but there are very few who are professionals. At this time, I think there must be about twenty who have managed to do so. [End Page 375]
What is the size of the community of El Carmen?
Including the settlements around it, there are about 22,000 inhabitants.
What year were you born?
I was born May 1, 1946. I'm sixty-one years old.
What motivated you to enroll in the university and become a professor?
What motivated me was a very curious thing. Imagine: When I was seven years old I began to work in the cotton fields, where I earned an old five sol coin a day. When we came to Lima, I lived in Rimac, an old district of Lima, and sometimes at home there were shortages. I studied from 1:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. Around the corner from my house there was a place where they repaired shoes and you had to home-deliver them in the area. So I went up to the cobbler and I told him, "Mister, I want to work." And he said, "What do you know how to do?" And I said, "Well, I don't know. But I can learn." So imagine, this man told me, "If you keep studying, I'll give you work. Otherwise, there's no work." In the mornings, I delivered footwear to people's houses and in the afternoons I went to school. I came back at night, and from 6:00 to 7:30 or 8:00, I worked again. And the man paid me double, ten soles. And it was less work.