Peru (Spanish: Perú; Quechua and Aymara: Piruw) is a country in South America. It is considered a “megadiverse’ country, the habitats of which include the arid planes of the Pacific coast, the alpine peaks of the Andes, and the tropical Amazon basin. It is also home to a highly diverse human population of about 34 million that includes significant numbers of mestizos, indigenous, whites, blacks, and Asians. Spanish, Quechua, and Aymara are the most widely spoken languages. Its most populous city is Lima. In observance of National Hispanic Heritage Month, I thought it would be a good time to highlight Peruvian Los Angeles.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF PERU
Archaeological evidence suggests that the first humans arrived in what’s now Peru at least as early some 13,000 or 14,000 years ago. The descendants of those humans ultimately organized themselves into various distinct cultures. An agricultural society known today as the Caral/Norte Chico Civilization flourished between 3000 BCE and 1800 BCE. The Chavin Culture flourished from roughly 1500 to 300 BCE. The Cupisnique Culture flourished from roughly 1000 to 200 BCE. The Paracas Cavernas and Paracas Necropolis cultures arose around the 9th century BCE. The highly urban Moche flowered in the 3rd century BCE. The Wari Civilization flourished between the 8th and 12th centuries. The urban Tiwanaku Empire dominated a large territory between the 9th and 13th centuries.
The most famous of Peru’s indigenous cultures were the Inca, who ruled a vast empire called Tawantinsuyu. The Incas created monumental stonework, an extensive network of roads, finely-woven textiles, advanced agricultural techniques, and organized labor without the use, for the most part, of money, draft animals, iron tools, or a writing system. The expansion of Inca power began in the 1200s. Under the role of Pachacuti, the pace of expansion increased. By the 1400s, the Incas ruled the largest empire in all of the Americas, with its capital at Cusco.
The Spanish Empire first arrived at the edges of Tawantinsuyu in 1528. They conquered it in December 1532. In 1542, they established the Viceroyalty of Peru with its capital at Lima. The National University of San Marcos was founded there in 1551. Peru proclaimed independence in 1821, which was recognized in 1824. The Civilista Party enjoyed relative stability until the establishment of an authoritarian regime under Augusto B. Leguía began in 1908. In the 1930s, Peru warred with Colombia. In the 1940s, Peru warred with Ecuador. The army took control with a coup d’état in 1968. Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) appeared in the 1970s and in the 1980s and ’90s and waged a terrorist campaign against the military government. Alberto Fujimori assumed the presidency in 1990 and watched up the violence by expanding the brutal counter-insurgency against the Left into an all-out genocide against the poor and indigenous. In the 1990s; Peru, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico all embraced a neoliberal economic model and were nicknamed the Pacific Pumas, stylized as a South American answer to the Four Asian Tigers (Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan) on the other side of the Pacific. Fujimori resigned and went into exile in 2000. In 2009, Fujimori was sentenced to 25 years in prison for his role in the kidnappings and killings carried out by his Grupo Colina death squad. In 2021, Petro Castillo of the Free Peru party defeated Keiko Fujimori to assume the presidency and Peru celebrated 200 years of independence.
PERUVIAN AMERICANS & ANGELENOS
While “Peruvian” describes a nationality, it’s not really an ethnicity, per se. About 60% of Peruvians identify as mestizo — primarily of Spanish, Quechua, and/or Aymara ancestry. About 25% of Peruvians identify as indigenous, including the aforementioned Quechua and Aymara — but also less-numerous groups like Aguaruna, Cocama, Shipibo, and Urarina. Most of the other 15% of Peruvians trace their roots to Austria, China, Colombia, Croatia, England, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Levant, Scotland, South Asia, the US, or West Africa. In 2018, there were an estimated 684,345 Americans of Peruvian ancestry with approximately 62% having been born in Peru. That percentage has reportedly decreased since, as immigration has slowed and Peruvian Americans have given birth to children here. In 2017, the state with the largest Peruvian population was Florida, with an estimated population of 100,965 Peruvian Americans. It was followed by California, with an estimated population of 91,511.
The first Peruvians came to California during the Gold Rush of 1848 and many Peruvian prospectors afterward settled in San Francisco. Subsequent immigration waves saw Peruvians emigrate to New York and New Jersey in the early 20th century, and to Detroit in the 1950s. From the 1970s through the 1990s, Peruvians fled political instability, violence, and hyperinflation. Those who came to Los Angeles often took jobs as parking lot attendants and bussers. As the situation has improved, emigration has slowed.
Today, the urban areas with the largest populations of Peruvian Americans are, in descending order, the New York-New Jersey area, Metro Miami, the Washington, DC area, and Metro Los Angeles. There are roughly 27,000 Peruvian-born residents in Los Angeles County and Metro Los Angeles’s entire Peruvian Angeleno population is estimated to number somewhere around 48,380 — almost twice that of San Francisco’s. The Peruvian population of Los Angeles is diffuse, though, and there has never really been anything like a Peruvian enclave. That didn’t stop the Latino Economic Empowerment Round Table from filing a motion with the city in 2012 calling for an area of Central Hollywood to be designated Peru Village.
The area was apparently chosen because it boasted three Peruvian restaurants: El Dorado, Mario’s, and Los Balcones spread out from one another by about a dozen blocks — and because, in the 1960s, there were at least a few Peruvians living in the area. Of course, with Peruvian restaurants as numerous and diffuse as they are, it seems that one could draw an imaginary line around any three restaurants and they’d be just as much of a Peru Village. And what happens if one or more moves or closes? And the intersection of Van Nuys and Victory boulevards is home to four Peruvian restaurants. In fact, the Van Nuys neighborhood is home to almost three times as many Peruvian Angelenos as the entire Hollywood region. I love the idea of recognizing a Peruvian community but it just seems like there wasn’t a lot of support behind Peru Village and ultimately, the motion expired to designate it expired.
PERU’S BRAND AND ME
I’m not exactly sure when I first formed any awareness of Peru. Lima beans were my least favorite bean but I’ve always loved taters. I’m sure I didn’t know until much later that either came from Peru. It did know that proto-baggy, duffle coat-and-bucket hat-wearing Paddington Bear was from “darkest Peru.” I remember that my father had some Andean figurines in his office — which feels very on-brand for a psychiatrist of the late 1970s/early ’80s. I remember, too, that my mom had a friend from Lima named Luz. My grandfather traveled to South America many times and brought back my sister and me a couple of stuffed animal llamas. I don’t recall actually knowing any Peruvians, though, until college, when my then-girlfriend had a Peruvian brother-in-law. More recently, I had a co-worker from Lima. Suffice it to say, then, I haven’t had a lot of personal Peruvian experiences although if anyone wants to fund it, I’d be willing and eager to visit every country in South America. My goal is to someday have a home in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres, allowing me to never experience another summer. Your donation, in any amount, can help make that happen.
PERUVIAN ANGELENO FESTIVALS
Until I achieve my goal, I’ll have to settle for experiencing Peruvian culture (and other cultures) at home. The ability to get a taste of other cultures without having to schedule a vacation is half the reason that I live here. Los Angeles celebrates Peru’s art, cuisine, culture, dance, and music once a year at the Peruvian Fest Chim Pum Callao LA, held at LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes in El Pueblo. Year-round, though, there are other places to experience various aspects of Peruvian culture — mainly its cuisine — but not just that.
PERUVIAN LOS ANGELES
One of the earliest prominent Peruvian Angelenos was Juan Bandini. Bandini was born in Lima in 1800. His father, José Bandini, was a sea captain. José came to Alta California in 1819 and fought in the Mexican War of Independence. Juan Bandini married Marie de los Dolores Estudillo in 1822, with whom he had five children. In 1834, the Bandini Family moved to San Diego. Bandini’s second wife, Refugia Argüello, bore another five children. Bandini was granted Rancho Tecate in 1836, but he was driven from the land by indigenous people. In 1838, he was granted Rancho Jurupa in what’s now the Inland Empire. When the US invaded California, Bandini supported them against Mexico, although as time passed, he grew more critical of American rule. He moved to Los Angeles in 1855. He was apparently a bit of a fop and his expensive tastes and generosity took a toll on his finances and health. Bandini diedin on 4 November 1859. Today, his presence here is reflected by the existence of Bandini Boulevard, which passes through the cities of Vernon, Bell, and Commerce.
PERUVIAN CUISINE & RESTAURANTS
Most people who know anything about food claim that Peruvian food is one of the world’s great cuisines. With its organic fusion of indigenous, West African, Maghrebi, Italian, Spanish, Chinese, and Japanese culinary traditions — I’m inclined to agree, at least in theory. That said, as someone who doesn’t eat animals except for the occasional insect accidentally inhaled whilst riding my bike or jogging, I can’t honestly say that I’ve ever had it. On occasion, I have accompanied friends to Peruvian restaurants and, to be honest, have never seen a single vegetarian item. One waiter said he could serve me some plain rice. I passed.
I have attempted on several occasions to make a vegetarian version of Lomo Saltado by substituting mock meats and by following a recipe. My ex, who was a Peruvian food lover, said that my attempts, whilst tasty, didn’t taste anything like Peruvian food. In my experience, the version of foreign cuisines we get in the US are usually quite a bit more meat-centric than those versions offered in their respective homelands. I don’t know if this is true of Peruvian Cuisine but my co-worker from Lima is vegan and makes pretty frequent trips home. I’m assuming that he eats while there. There’s also a vegan Peruvian place in Los Angeles, Llama Love Vegan, although I haven’t tried it yet.
Beverages, of course, are usually vegetarian and I believe it was the Peruvian brother-in-law who introduced me to Pisco. To be honest, I neither loved nor loathed it. Chapo, made with plantains, sounds good, though. Popular Peruvian beers include Pilsen Callao, Cusqueña, and Cristal. Chicha Morada, made from cloves, cinnamon, maize, sugar, and occasionally pineapple, sounds interesting; as does Chicha de Jora, an alcoholic beverage, made from fermented maize and flavored with herbs. I’m less inclined, I’m afraid, to try Peru’s famous lemon verbena-flavored Inka Kola or its slightly less famous competitors — cherry-flavored Kola Inglesa and purple-colored Kola Escocesa. I would probably have loved them when I was a child, and honestly didn’t understand the concept of anything being “too sweet” but sugary drinks now tend to turn my stomach.
The history of Peruvian restaurants in the US begins, supposedly, with Inca’s — a restaurant opened by Carlos and Ofelia Binasa in 1963 in Wilshire Center. Inez and Anita Mena opened La Perricholi Peruvian Restaurant in 1965 in what’s now Thai Town. The second location of Inca’s opened in Echo Park in 1967. Julio Cabello opened Julio’s in Torrance around 1971. El Sol operated in the Hollywood Studio District in the 1980s. The ’80s, really, were when Peruvian cuisine started to blow up In that decade alone there was also Cafe Rico in Chatsworth, Cevicherria El Silencio in Van Nuys, El Carbon in Wilshire Center, Machu Picchu in Lawndale, and El Rocoto in Maywood. The Peruvian restaurant continues to grow and diversify. Peru has the largest Chinese population in South America and in Los Angeles, we have at least one Chifa restaurant called, um, Chifa. Before that, there was Jose Antonio — now closed. Peru also has the second-largest Japanese population in South America, after Brazil, and we have several local Nikkei restaurants, including Kotosh, Mikaza Nikkei, and Onizuka. We even have a bona fide Peruvian fast food chain, El Pollo Inka, founded in 1987 by Rosa and Salomon Jaime. In fact, there are today too many Peruvian restaurants to name individually — but hopefully, I’ve included them all. on the map. If I missed any, let me know and I’ll add them.
The stables of Peruvian cuisine are vegetarian — beans, kinwa, maize, and potatoes. Peru is the original source of the potato and produces the largest variety of potatoes in the world, a fact that sounds heavenly to this potato-head. The Quechua have long harvested sea vegetables, too, including, notably, Cochayuyo. Other native plant ingredients include the aguaje, ají amarillo, ají limón, ají panca, caigua, camu camu, copoazu, hungurahui, kaniwa, Lima beans, lúcuma, maca, mashua, oca, rocoto chile, sweet potato, tarwi, tomatoes, and ulluco.
Prior to the Spanish Conquest, animals commonly consumed by Peruvians included agouti, alpacas, bagre, Black Caiman, boquichico, chinchillas, crayfish, gamitana, guinea pigs, majas, paiche, palometa, piranha, sabalo, sajino, trout, tucunare, and the yellow-footed tortoise. Native plant ingredients — in addition to the aforementioned staples — include the aguaje, ají amarillo, ají limón, ají panca, caigua, camu camu, copoazu, hungurahui, kaniwa, Lima beans, lúcuma, maca, mashua, oca, rocoto chile, sweet potato, tarwi, tomatoes, and ulluco. The Spanish introduced other now-common ingredients like chickens, cows, pigs, rice, sheep, wheat, and wine.
All of those ingredients go into a highly diverse cuisine with many unique dishes and food items, including ají de gallina, anticuchos, arroz chauga, arroz con pollo, arroz tapado, bollos, butifarras, carapulcra, causa, ceviche, cebiche de conchas negras, chairo, chalonga, cherimoya, chicharrones, chupe de camarones, chupe de pescado, copús, crema de tarwi , cuy chactado, empanadas, escabeche criollo, humitas, juane, King Kong, lahua, Lima butter bean salad, mazamorra morada, mondongo, ocopa, olluquito con charqui, pachamanca, papa a la huancaina, papa rellena, patarashca, picarones:, pollo a la brasa, puka pikanti, rocoto relleno, sancochado, sangrecita, seco de cabrito, seco de chavelo, suspiro a la limeña, suspiro a la Limeña, tacu-tacu, tamales, timbuche, tocosh, and yuca chupe.
PERUVIAN ARCHITECTURE & ARCHITECTS
Peru is famous for some of the most widely-known examples of art and architecture in the Americas. The Nazca Lines are a collection of hundreds of gigantic geometric, hylomorphic, and zoomorphic geoglyphs created in the Nazca Desert between 500 BCE and 500 CE. Ancient villages and cities which exemplify traditional urban Peruvian architecture include Chan Chan, Machu Pichu, Pachacámac, Pikillaqta, Puruchuco, Sacsayhuamán, and Tiwanaku.
The most prominent Peruvian Angeleno architect was Wenceslao Alfonso Sarmiento. Sarmiento was born in Peru in 1922. He studied in South America under Oscar Niemeyer and many of his designs have a decidedly Niemeyeresque bent. In 1954, whilst visiting his sister-in-law in Missouri, he rear-ended an architect who ended up hiring him to work at the St. Louis-based Bank Building & Equipment Corporation of America. In 1961, he opened his own practice in St. Louis before relocating to Santa Monica in the 1970s, where he retired in 1980. His local designs include the Pioneer Savings Bank Building (3245 Wilshire Boulevard, Koreatown, 1953 — now the Consulate General of the Republic of Korea), Fidelity Federal Savings & Loan Building (225 East Broadway, Glendale City Center, 1956 — now Hollywood Production Center), Great Western Savings Bank (8201 Van Nuys Boulevard, Panorama City, (1957 — now LA Furniture Center), the Crenshaw Savings & Loan Building (4401 Crenshaw Boulevard, Windsor Hills, 1958 — now Chase Bank), and the Glendale Federal Savings and Loan Building (401 North Brand Boulevard, Glendale City Center, 1959 — now Hollywood Production Center).
PERUVIAN ART & ARTISTS
There are several distinct and prominent folk art traditions in Peru. Artisans in Cusco are known for their dolls and stuffed animals. Cochas is famous for its carved gourds. Chulucanas is known for its boldly and strikingly decorated pottery. Ayacucho is known for its devotional retablos. There is an established history of academic art as well. The Escuela cuzqueña was established in the 16th century. Baroque was a hugely popular style in the 17th and 18th centuries. The 19th century introduced Neoclassicism and Romanticism. The Fine Arts School of Lima was established in 1919. Martín Chambi was one of Peru’s best-known photographers Contemporary art was pioneered in Peru by Teresa Burga and others in the 1960s. In the 1980s, Cristina Gálvez emerged as a prominent Peruvian sculptor. Peruvian Angeleno artists include famed pin-up artist, Alberto Vargas; illustrator/graphic artist, Kat Reeder; fashion and portrait photographer, Mario Testino; and activist/photographer Ursula Vari.
PERUVIAN MUSIC & MUSICIANS
Most music in Peru is an amalgamation of indigenous, Spanish, and West African musical roots. Traditional Peruvian music was mostly performed with drums, flutes, and stringed instruments which play tritonic and pentatonic scales. In the Colonial Era, the scale was sometimes elaborated to hexatonic and diatonic. The first piece of music printed anywhere in the Americas was “Hanacpachap cussicuinin,” written in Peru in 1631. The charango, a type of lute, was invented during this era and was primarily associated with the rural poor until its stature was elevated by the Indigenismo movement of the early 20th century. Related instruments include the charangon, chillador, chinlili, and walaycho. The percussion instrument, the cajón, was developed by African slaves and is for some reason beloved in church congregations that unfortunately strive to be hip and fun. Other Peruvian instruments include the bombo, wankara, tinya, ocarina, waqra phuku, siku, antara, pinkillu, tarka, and quena.
I’m not sure that Peruvian music has ever really had a moment in the US. In 1969, Simon & Garfunkel recorded an English-language version of “El Condor Pasa,” an 18th century Peruvian folk song on which they were backed by an Argentine-Venezuelan group, Los Incas. In the 1970s, Romanian musician Gheorghe Zamfir popularized the pan-pipe, which is found in many cultures but is especially associated with the Peruvian Andes. I first really discovered Peruvian music when Arhoolie Records released Huayno Music of Peru in 1993. It felt like a lifeline as, at that time, I felt like inescapable commercial grunge might actually suffocate me. The 2007 release of The Roots Of Chicha (Psychedelic Cumbias From Peru), followed by 2010’s The Roots Of Chicha 2 – Psychedelic Cumbias From Peru, introduced a lot of record store types who’d never before given a chance to cumbia something they could appreciate. I had, by then, long been a cumbia fan but chicha was new to me and I dug it too. In fact, I think Los Wembler’s de Iquitos (formed in Iquitos in 1964) were the last band I saw live before everything shut down for COVID-19.
There are Peruvian Angeleno musicians and musical figures, too. Conductor Miguel Alberto Harth-Bedoya was the assistant conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the associate conductor from 1999 until 2004. Musicians include Alejandro “Alex” Neciosup Acuña, Anthony Espinoza Valer, Baby Boi Peru, Britt Lari, Dzasko, Carolina Lee Li, Gabriela Lena Frank, Ginger A. Pooley, and Martin Cueva. Probably the best-known Peruvian Angeleno musician, though, is Yma Sumac.
Sumac was a coloratura soprano with an almost five-octave range. Although she claimed to be descended from Incan royalty, her music incorporated Andean motifs, and even though she was a Peruvian musician, most people would characterize it as exotica rather than “Peruvian Music.” Yma Sumac (“Amy Camus” backward) was born Zoila Augusta Emperatriz Chávarri del Castillo in Peru in 1922. She married Moisés Vivanco on 6 June 1942. She recorded her first session, a collection of Peruvian folk songs, in 1943, for Odeon in Argentina, using the name Imma Sumack. The sessions led to a dozen 78″ singles released in Peru. In 1946, they moved to New York City where they performed as two-thirds of the Inka Taqui Trio. In 1949, they had a son named Carlos. In 1950, Sumac and Les Baxter recorded Voice of the Xtabay at Capitol Records and Baxter remained with her through Legend of the Sun Virgin (1952), Inca Taqui (1953), Mambo! (1954), Legend of the Jivaro (1957), Fuego Del Ande (1959), and Recital (1961). In 1971, she released Miracles, with an updated rock sound also composed by Baxter. Sumac died on 1 November 2008, aged 86, at an assisted living home in Los Angeles. She was interred at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
PERUVIAN DANCE & DANCERS
The long history of dance in Peru has its roots in symbolic performances related to farming, hunting, war, and other activities. The Spanish and enslaved Africans introduced elements of their own traditions, leading to a number of types of dance, including Apiliarg, Carnaval en Amazonas, Carnavalito, Chumaichada, Creole Waltz, Cueca, Danza de Tijeras, Danzantes de Levanto, Diablada, Festejo, Harawi, Huanca, Huayno, Kantu, Landó, Morenada, Sikuri, Son de los Diablos, and Zamacueca. Local Peruvian Angeleno dancers include half-Peruvian illusionary dancer from Santa Ana, David “Elsewhere” Bernal — and the aforementioned pop singer Carolina Lee Li.
PERUVIAN FILM & FILM FIGURES
The first films shown in Peru were screened in 1897. In 1904, businessman Juan José Pont began filming scenes in Lima. The first fiction film made in Peru was 1913’s Negocio Al Agua, Other prominent Peruvian films include Los Centauros Peruanos, Del Manicomio Al Matrimonio, Camino de la Venganza, La Perricholi, Los Abismos De La Vida, Creo en Dios, Buscando Olvido, El Último Adiós, Gallo de mi Galpón, Carnaval de Kanas, En la selva no hay estrellas, La Muralla Verde, La Fuga del Chacal, La boca del lobo, Una sombra al frente, Paraíso, Rosa Chumbe, Eternity Wiñaypacha, and Canción sin nombre. Back when I used to show movies at my home (Movie Nights at Pendersleigh), we watched La teta asustada (2009), which I enjoyed.
Peruvian Angeleno filmmakers Miguel Arteta (born in Puerto Rico to a Peruvian father and Spanish mother), Catherine C. Pirotta, Milagros Lizarraga, and Roma Kong. Actors of Peruvian background who live or have lived in Los Angeles include Alexis Amore (née Fabiola Melgar García), Amber Barretto, Benjamin Bratt, Carlos Chavez, Carlos De Valdez, Dayana Espinoza, Isabela Moner (voice of Dora the Explorer), Joshua Luis Wiener (professionally known as “Josh Keaton“), Melissa Tasslo, Q’orianka Kilcher, and Rosa Bianca Salazar. Producer Lorenzo O’Brien is Peruvian, too. Marlene Dermer, who co-founded the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival with Edward James Olmos, is also Peruvian.
PERUVIAN LITERATURE & WRITERS
The roots of Peruvian literature can be traced back to the oral traditions of the Aymara, Chanka, Quechua, and other indigenous peoples. The Quecha produced two major poetic forms, the lyric Harawis and the epic Hayllis, both of which are recited by a figure known as a harawec. Peruvian Literature’s Colonial Period begins in 1532, with the capture of Atahualpa. The early literature of this era is often epistolary or in the form of chronicles of discovery. At the end of the 16th century, Incan writer Garcilaso de la Vega. wrote La Florida del Inca, about the exploits of Hernando de Soto and the Forty-Years War (1531–1571), fought between the Incas and the Spanish. Neoclassicism was dominant until the end of the 19th century, when Romanticism supplanted it. Modernism arose in the aftermath of the War of the Pacific.
Peruvian Angeleno authors include Carlos Castañeda and Mónica Brown. Castañeda was born Carlos César Salvador Arana in Cajamarca in 1925. He emigrated to California in 1951. While a student at the Univerity of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) he wrote The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge (1968), A Separate Reality (1971), and Journey to Ixtlan (1972) — all of which purported to describe Casañeda’s training that he received from a Yaqui shaman named Don Juan Matus. He died in 1988. Peruvian Angelena author Monica Brown writes bilingual children’s books, including Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match / Marisol McDonald no combina (2011), Waiting for the Biblioburro (2011), and Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos (2017).
Peruvian apparel has been more influential on Southern California fashion than might be obvious at first. One of the most iconic items of apparel is the chullo, a type of knit hat with earflaps popular with skiers and slackers. Think of Beck in his 1994 video for “Loser.” Another slacker staple, the poncho (Quechua: punchu), is traditional throughout the Andes and Patagonia. Boldly colorful aguayos, llikllas, and q’ipirinas have long been popular at shops that specialize in imported folk goods and Peruvian fashion even lead to the creation of American brands like Peruvian Connection, founded by Kansan mother-and-daughter Biddy and Annie Hurlbut in 1976. Locally, Peru-born Claudia Andrea is the founder of Inka Roots.
As is true across most of South America — and for that matter, planet Earth — association football (i.e. soccer) is the most popular sport in Peru, The Peru national football team has competed in five FIFA World Cups. In the 1960s and early 1970s, Peru had one of South America’s best basketball teams and in 1973, Peru won the bronze at the South American Basketball Championship. Around that time, Hakeem Aanders Polar introduced Taekwondo. Volleyball is also popular. In 1984, with coach Park Man-Bok, the women’s national team won a bronze medal at the Olympics. In 1988, in Seoul (the hometown of their Sokcho-born coach), they won the silver. Cricket, jai alai, rugby, sailing, shooting, surfing, tennis, and water polo also enjoy varying degrees of popularity.
Los Angeles has been home, at various times, to several Peruvian Angeleno athletes. Tennis player Alejandro “Alex” Olmedo Rodríguez was born in Arequipa and was mentored in Los Angeles, where he died in 2020. Horse trainer Julio Canani was born in Oxapampa in 1936 and moved to Los Angeles in 1954. He died of COVID-19 in 2021. Jorge Benítez playe for the Los Angeles Wolves in 1968. After they folded at the end of the season, he moved to the Kansas City Spurs. Runner David Torrence was born in Okinawa in 1985 and was raised in Tarzana. His mother, Bianca, was Peruvian and he represented her homeland at the 2016 Olympics. Retired mixed martial artist Kenneth Alan Florian was born in Westwood, Massachusetts to parents from Peru. He later moved to the Hollywood Hills.
OTHER PERUVIAN ANGELENOS
Other prominent Peruvian Angelenos include string theorist Barton Zwiebach (who obtained his Ph.D. from CalTech but now teaches at MIT); NASA astronaut Carlos Ismael Noriega; half-Peruvian stand-up comic Tom Segura; Long Beach mayor Robert Garcia; and journalists and reporters Daniel Tuccio, Mandalit del Barco, and Pepe Barreto.