he first 75 Chinese to arrive in Peru - to the province of Cañete and the department of Ica - arrived, to be more precise, in 1849. They came to work in the 'haciendas' along the Coast, at the time lacking labor force as a result of the liberation of black slaves.
Throughout the next 25 years, approximately 100,000 Chinese entered Peru. At that time, not only did they work at the 'haciendas'; they also worked at building the railroad and at extracting 'guano'.
The War of the Pacific once ended, the majority of Chinese migrated to the larger cities; particularly Lima, forming there Peru's most important Cantonese community.
But it is only since 1950 that reference may be made of a Chinatown in Lima. It was in those days that the 'calle' Capón was born; famous for its 'chifas' and their typical dishes from the Chinese provinces of Guangdon (Canton), Sichuan and Peking; from where the majority of immigrants came, bringing with them their delicious and exotic dishes prepared with spices such as pepper from Sichuan and 'chempi', among others.
Today, Chinatown is headquarters for the China Benevolent Society; counts with two daily journals: "The Voice of the Chinese Colony", published every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, and 'Man Chin Po', America's oldest Chinese daily, published Wednesdays and Saturdays. There are also three temples: Ku Kun Chaou, Pun Yi and Y Chin; readings of the ancient Chinese oracle being held at the latter.
"Today, there are very few countrymen", remarks Carlos Chu, editor of the Man Chi Po - "of us, about 500 were born in China, but the colony is immense. Throughout Peru probably half a million people have Chinese blood."
The Honorable Chu, who lives in Peru since 40 years back, gets emotional on looking back to his first days in the neighborhood, but is also stirred when commenting that today, after 20 years of neglect, the place has reborn because people are coming back to the 'chifas' and tea-rooms. In downtown Lima, the dragon is stirring.
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