A burger in Cuzco


So now there’s a McDonalds in the historic and very beautiful Peruvian town of Cusco, once the centre of the Incan civilisation and full of Spanish colonial buildings literally built on the visible foundations of the Incan edifices they tore down. The store is right on the Plaza de Armas the historic central square housing the finest historic buildings.

Cusco is the gateway to the ruins at Macchu Picchu and so many tourists pass through. It’s an ageless, magical spot, one of the world’s great wonders. Or it was. Perhaps inevitably (??) Cuzco becoming westernised, but surely McDonalds as marketing-savvy corporations must realise that their presence there is likely to simply exacerbate the anatgonism that people have towards the endless global march of these franchises.

I mean, how does the revenue from a few burgers stack up against a PR disaster? Is this unthinking capitalism, corporate insensitivity or just plain marketing stupidity? No wonder Facbook pages appeared in opposition. Sadly, the response was underwhelming. (Sigh). McD’s downplayed their store-front design and signage to a much more-subtle-than-usual approach. But there it is, feeding ignorant tourists who should have stayed home inappropriate foodstuffs made of nonPeruvian ingredients, whose profits don’t benefit Peru…. another flagship of cultural imperialism gone mad.

Let’s hope tourists will vite with their feet can plunk down 15 soles for a big Mac made of nonPeruvian ingredients, whose profits don’t benefit Peru, or they can enjoy a nice meal at one of the many local restaurants around the Plaza.

Cusco’s Plaza de Armas was named “One of 60 Great Places in the World” by the Project for Public Spaces (PPS).

PPS describes the plaza’s historic significance:

The Plaza de Armas was called ‘Huacaypata’ after its construction during the Inca Empire. The original plaza was twice the current size, and functioned as the cultural center of Inca life. Cuzco, which was the capital of the Inca Empire, was designed in the shape of a Puma to reflect their Inca animal mythology. Historians proclaim the plaza was intentionally built at the location of the heart of the Puma, in the center of the city. The location of the Plaza is no coincidence. The Plaza is used for most of the city’s events, gatherings, and festivals. Historians feel that the Plaza functioned as the cultural center, or “heart,” of the Inca Empire.

In 1532 Spanish Conquistador Francisco Pizarro defeated the Inca Empire and took control of Cuzco, renaming the Plaza to “Plaza de Armas.” The Spanish reduced the size of the Plaza by building two Churches, la Catedral and la Compañia. La Catedral was built where the palace of Inca Wirancocha once stood. La Compañia was built in 1571 by the Jesuits during the time of Wayna Capac, the last ruler of the unconquered empire. An earthquake in 1650 destroyed the church leading to its immediate reconstruction, which resulted in one of the most beautiful churches in Latin America. The Plaza de Armas portrays the city’s diverse history while remaining the center of Cuzco life and culture.

The changing face of Cuzco

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