Plan COPESCO

Before the landslide, Yungay aspired to be an important tourist destination. This aspiration has not disappeared. For some, the Campo Santo has the potential to attract visitors from around the world. It’s perhaps unsurprising, then, that it has ended up in the hands of the Ministry of Tourism.

It’s become one of nine showcase destinations in Peru that are managed by a branch of the Ministry called COPESCO. In around 2015, COPESCO began to research the possibility of modernizing the park. The project was contracted to a conglomerate called Consorcio Machu Picchu. After a protracted planning process, approval was given in 2017 and construction began in 2018.

When we visited in January 2019, much of the building work was being carried out by Venezuelan migrants. The front of the park was hidden behind fences and shrouded in black plastic.

The construction was not a welcome development for many Yungay residents. They were sceptical that the site had sufficient pulling power to compete with sites of major international importance like Machu Picchu. Listen to survivor Lucho Cachay describe another controversial aspect of the development:

Construction had finished by the time I returned to Yungay in November 2019. But the park was not yet open. A security guard told me that there were some issues with the design of the doors. These needed to be resolved before the public could be admitted. Others spoke of rumours of corruption and overspending. 

The buildings photographed include an exhibition centre, a museum, a restaurant and a market space. The full-frontal sculpture shows the Huascarán mountain, the Christ sculpture and the red façade of the Cathedral. The style reminds me of the wood carvings made by Artesanos Don Bosco, an organisation founded by Italian priest Ugo de Sensi who ran carpentry workshops in the region.

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