With a pencil and a notebook, the Peruvian artist Edilberto Jiménez walked the streets of Lima and the Andes to collect stories about the worst health crisis in Peru due to the new coronavirus.

Then, in his workshop, he finished the scenes while reading the press or watching the news on television about the pandemic that has killed tens of thousands in the South American country.

“Each drawing has a story that impacted me,” said Jiménez, who drew 750 sketches of which he chose a hundred for his book “New Coronavirus and Good Government”, whose title resembles “New Chronicle and Good Government” written in 1615 by Felipe Guamán Poma de Ayala where in 400 drawings and 1,200 pages the sufferings of the natives at the hands of the Spanish were recounted.

“It’s like a war with an invisible enemy,” said Jiménez, who in 2005 published another book of drawings and testimonies of the survivors in Oreja de Perro, the epicenter of the horrors of the internal war between the Shining Path terrorist group and the uniformed soldiers.

“They are similarities between the armed conflict and this pandemic,” explained the artist. “The sick bring to my memory the wounded, the dead, the hospitals, the full cemeteries, the ‘save yourself who can’, everything repeats itself,” added the 56-year-old artist, who between 1980 and 2000 lived in Ayacucho , his native region, and where the Shining Path unleashed a bloodbath that was responded with equal violence by the uniformed with a toll of almost 70,000 dead, the majority poor Peruvians.

The first drawing in his new book shows the reaction of a working-class family who stares in amazement at the television announcement of the beginning of the state of emergency and mandatory lockdown ordered by the government to prevent the spread of the virus that lasted 106 days and destroyed the economy.

He found some scenes near his own home. One morning when he was returning from the food market, he saw an old man fall to the ground who could not get up. People walked away from the man commenting that he was infected. “Only stray dogs and some pigeons approached him,” he said.

Jiménez, who is also an anthropologist, said that seeing the man lying on the ground and being watched by fearful witnesses immediately reminded him of another scene from almost four decades ago when, on another street in Ayacucho, he saw a man fall during the time of political violence. .

His drawings rise to a symbolic level when he enters his workshop and draws the unfortunate man who fell to the ground, but this time surrounded by hundreds of dead who seek to take him away while he is defended by two stray dogs.

Other scenes show the dying in front of the door of a collapsed hospital, the police chasing street vendors with sticks to take to the streets to earn some coins to eat, millions of unemployed or a family who watches their father die for lack of oxygen.

Jiménez reported by watching television and reading the cables of international news agencies such as that of The Associated Press of May 20, 2020 that recounted the story of the body pickers and that of a gardener who hanged himself after learning that he had contracted the virus.

Jiménez’s characters show “the cruel injustice of Peruvian life,” said Victor Vich, a professor of cultural studies at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, who wrote the foreword to the artist’s book.

The South American country has almost collapsed the intensive care rooms of its hospitals since January and the exact death toll from the virus is still under debate among the authorities themselves. The deaths confirmed until Monday by analysis total 67,034 but those that include the suspects reach 173,374, according to official data. According to the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering, more than 1.9 million cases of coronavirus have so far been recorded in the country.

Jiménez said that, although the virus is deadly, it has seen two types of pandemic: one for the poor and another for those who have money. “We live in complete inequality, the people continue to seek justice, health, education.”

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