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Trucks load up in the Andean town with both cargo and passengers to make the long journey down through multiple ecosystems. Urcos is the gateway to numerous highways leading to Peru's Pacific ports. For Brazil, the new highway will provide speedy access to those ports, enabling faster trade with China and other Asian nations.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times

The last section of the highway left to be paved descends a steep three miles from the Andes into the Amazon basin. Switchbacks have been carved into the mountain sides and the highway's construction has prompted fears of severe damage to the environment in this ecologically diverse and sensitive zone.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times

Transoceanic Highway, Peru April, 2010 Passengers and their goods are packed in for the long drive to Cuzco. It used to take trucks weeks, sometimes months, to make the journey, especially during the rainy season. Said one driver: "It would make a grown man weep." That will change with the paving of the highway. Maldonado to Cusco can now be done in 14 hours. The Transoceanic Highway consists of the construction and rehabilitation of a total of 2,603 kilometers of roads linking the Amazon state of Acre in Brazil with the port cities of Ilo, Matarani and San Juan de Marcona along the southern coast of Peru. Brazil will have easier access to Asian markets for their Amazonian products. Many in Peru fear that their giant neighbor will consume Peruvian jobs and companies en route to the Pacific.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times

A family headed to Puerto Maldonado takes shelter from a hailstorm in the high altiplano of the Andes. The highway crosses ove a 16,000 foot pass at the base of Mt. Ausangate.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times

Trucks line up on the Transoceanic Highway, waiting to cross at a checkpoint that closes for hours as construction continues farther down. Peruvian truck drivers say they will be unable to compete with Brazilian truckers as they cannot afford the new trucks or the $3000 commercial licenses required to ply the toll road when it opens.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times

Quince Mil is a small roadside town that hopes to prosper from the coming convoys of Brazilian trucks and currency. Others are troubled by the influx of Brazilians, warning of a quiet conquest, with a smile and a handshake.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times

Ferry boats cluster near a bridge being built on the Madre de Dios River as part of the Transoceanic Highway. Peruvian ferrymen fear their livelihood will dry up once the bridge, part of the smooth asphalted highway, is finished.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times

Juan Emanuel pushes his family's barge off the east bank of the Madre de Dios River for the 10-minute crossing to Puerto Maldonado. He hopes he will be able to find work once the bridge is finished. Others hope the highway will open up opportunities to sell Peruvian goods in Brazil.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times

Peruvian cities are known for their nightlife and Puerto Maldonado is no exception. But new to the scene are set lists with Brazilian hits and favorites as more Brazilians show up in the region.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times

A view of the new highway from a tower soaring above Puerto Maldonado, the largest city between the Brazilian border and the Andes. The area is known for ecotourism but is infamous for informal gold mining operations that have left waterways contaminated with mercury and pollution.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times

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A road runs through Peru

The Transoceanic Highway linking Brazil’s booming commercial hubs to Peru’s Pacific ports through steamy jungles, rolling savannahs and Andean cloud forests, has been long in the making. As the final stretch nears completion, some in Peru fear that their powerful neighbor will swallow Peruvian jobs and resources.

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  1. November 1, 2010, 9:24 pm

    this is another example of man's trying to disturb and ruin the ecosystems in beautiful peru. and the people.

  2. November 1, 2010, 9:25 pm

    why ?


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