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A cultural celebration: Peruvians commemorate their Independence Day in Hartford

Maricarmen Cajahuaringa
Connecticut Public
Marinera dancers perform outside The Connecticut Capitol.

The Peruvian community met on Friday to celebrate their Independence Day at the state Capitol in Hartford.

The ceremony consisted of the Peruvian national anthem and raising of the flag, followed by a cultural display of dances. A mass and reception afterward featured traditional music performers and appetizers.

A number of politicians made an appearance at the event including U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, state Sen. John Fonfara, D-Hartford, and state Rep. Hilda Santiago, D-Meriden.

Elvis Tuesta Cuadros, who is the Peruvian consul representing Connecticut and Rhode Island, spoke about the contributions of the Peruvian community in the state.

“Frequently, Connecticut’s authorities tell me about the recognition of our community. They say Peruvians are very hard working, with family values, respect the law, and try to promote the culture all the time,” he said.

Data from the 2020 census show there are about 35,000 Peruvians residing in Connecticut, he said, but added that he believes that number has grown rapidly in the last three years, including undocumented Peruvians.

The celebrations started on July 28 with the famous singer of Peruvian folk music, Manuel Donaire, known as “The Black Diamond of Peru.” He sang the national anthem at a reception at the Peruvian consulate. But on Friday, he talked about Peruvian diversity and why he is proud to represent Afro-Peruvians.

“I am Afro, and I am proud to be Afro-Peruvian. I hold high Peruvian Criolla music,” Donaire said in Spanish. “Peruvians are about love, unity, and peace.”

Former state Rep. Edwin Vargas Jr. was also present at the event. He talked about the importance of diversity and cultural heritage.

“What holds people together is their ethnicity, their nationality, their culture, their music and language,” Vargas said. “And while they become Americans, they should adopt what is good about the United States, avoid what’s bad, but also preserve what they bring to themselves as immigrants to this country.”

Tuesta, the Peruvian consul, said the Peruvian community is thriving and financially contributing to Connecticut. He said some of the most common fields that members of his community go into are entrepreneurship in the service industry such as restaurants, bakeries, cleaning companies and construction.

State Rep. James Sánchez, who identifies of Puerto Rican heritage, was also at the event. He said Peruvians are an example of unity, family values and hard work.

“Most people don't realize that Peruvians are the second largest Hispanic/Latino population in the state of Connecticut,” he said. “I respect them because they are proactive.”

Milagros Acosta is from Lima, Peru, and is an administrative assistant with the state. She said she is happy to see the community coming together despite the political upheaval in Peru.

“I'm excited to see everybody here. As a Peruvian American, I want to see the community prosper and unite, especially during our Independence Day celebration. ”

Griselda Calderon De La Vega is from Tarma, a city in the Andes mountains of central Peru, and has been living in Connecticut for 25 years. She said is proud that the community is thriving.

“It's incredible! I’m happy that the community is moving forward. I want to congratulate them because it's not easy to leave everything behind,” De La Vega said.

Peruvians have not only brought their cultural traditions, but also their culinary flavors. Brian Ocasio identifies as Puerto Rican and has been working at Coracora restaurant in West Hartford for the last five years. He said he feels connected with the Peruvian community for its values and praises their cuisine.

“There are so many things about the Peruvian community that I feel connected [to], including the food and their energy to celebrate,” Ocasio said.

In the last two decades the World Travel Awards (WTA), known as “The Oscars of Tourism,” awarded Peru three recognitions in its global edition: World's Leading Culinary Destination, World's Leading Cultural Destination and the World's Leading Tourist Attraction. The Peruvian community in Connecticut is proud to represent and celebrate these achievements.

Maricarmen Cajahuaringa is a journalist with extensive experience in Latino communities' politics, social issues, and culture. She founded Boceto Media, a digital Spanish-language newspaper based in Connecticut. Maricarmen holds a Bachelor's in Social Work from Springfield College, and a Master's in Journalism and Media Production from Sacred Heart University. As a reporter for Connecticut Public, she is dedicated to delivering accurate and informative coverage of the Hispanic/Latino population in the region. Maricarmen is an experienced and passionate journalist who strives to bring a voice to the stories of her community.

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