Sunday, October 14, 2007

Census, Peruvian Style

I´ve always said the Peruvians are creative people. But their approach to the 2007 census is one that I doubt any other country has ever used. The last detailed census that produced any information of value was over 20 years ago. It´s always been difficult to get people to cooperate, as they´re suspicious of any government official who comes around asking for personal information. But an even bigger impediment, as you know from my earlier postings, is that they can´t rely on the postal service to implement the census, so the questionnaires have to be done in person. And with many people working six or seven days a week, it´s almost possible to make contact with everyone on the same day.

So someone in the government decided that the they should just paralyze the country for a day, make everyone stay home, and send out an army of volunteer surveyors. And if everything goes as planned, not a person will stir from his or her house between 8 am and 6 pm this Sunday, October 21, except for a serious emergency (unless you work in the airport or a hospital or some other essential service). If you should happen to forget, or not know that it´s census day, your local policeman will invite you to return to your house. Even after you´ve completed your survey, you can´t leave your house. I guess they thought that if they allowed that, many people would just lie about it.

Well, this is just too tempting. I´m going to have to sneak out at least long enough to see whether they really succeed in shutting down the city, and go snap a couple pictures of the deserted streets.

Oh, and the army of volunteers? They figure they need about 600,000. At last count, ten days before the census was to begin, they had a total of just over 200,000.

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