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Peru: Transportation Strike in Lima: A Campaign Against the Mayor?

The mayor of Lima, Susana Villarán of the political party Social Force Decentralization Party [es], has experienced an outpour of all kinds criticism at the six month mark of her term; from the fact that she has only executed 1% of the budget [es] (which she later clarified [es] referred to the regional government of Lima), her unkept [es] campaign promises and even a request that she prematurely vacate her post, to nicknames coined by the general public.

Add to that her decline [es] in recent polls, an obvious communication problem [es], and what supporters of the Social Forces Decentralization Party call [es] “a political and media campaign against her”, and evidently the mayor's situation is not the best at the moment. To make matters worse, on July 13 she faced a transportation strike [es], triggered –according to protesters– by requirements that are difficult to meet, such as a bus standard established by the Management of Urban Transportion of the Municipality, something that has been denied by the respective authorities.

As always, in the blogosphere we can find more varied opinion than the apparently biased media opinion and the official version which reveals little self-criticism. For example, Francisco Canaza of Apuntes Peruanos commented [es] on the legality of the possible request that the mayor step down:

Más allá de cómo se evalúe a Susana Villarán -y habrá quienes por diversas causas prefieran defenderla, igual que otros tantos quienes encontrarán sus falencias- lo cierto es que el mecanismo de revocatoria de autoridades municipales existe, que es un mecanismo de participación ciudadana totalmente válido y que posee casuística en todo el país.

Beyond how we evaluate Susana Villarán – and there are those who for various reasons will prefer to defend her, like many others who will single out her flaws – the fact is that the mechanism for the dismissal of municipal authorities exists, and it is a completely valid mechanism for citizen participation and has casuistry in the entire country.

Susana Villarán, alcaldesa de Lima. Photo by Juan Manuel on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

And Eduardo Jesús Plascencia in BLOG PARA MAESTROS…y Estudiantes wrote:

Ahora periodistas mercenarios insultan constantemente a Susana Villarán, hasta el mismo presidente la agredió la semana pasada, bajo pretexto que no hace “obras”. Apenas tiene 6 meses de gestión y sin embargo, quieren ver “obras” de cemento y no lo que sí se sabe que hace: En cuanto a participación social supera ampliamente a la anterior gestión, ha hecho del Cabildo Abierto una notoria participación ciudadana.

Now mercenary journalists constantly insult Susana Villarán, even the president attacked her under the pretext that she does not do any “public works”. She has only been in office for 6 months and, still, they want to see “public works” of cement and not what we know she is doing: Social participation in her administration far exceeds the previous one, the Open Meeting has achieved notable citizen participation.

There are also varied opinions on the issue of transportation. Protesters have been carrying posters with the slogan “Strike July 13 against the abuse of the Municipality of lima”, but the union does not enjoy much citizen favor due to the continuous accidents [es] and abuses [es] by informal carriers, like Sonia Luz Carrillo comments [es] in the blog Habla Sonia Luz:

Inconcientes de la gravedad de la situación calamitosa del servicio del transporte masivo y en defensa de su ‘derecho’ a seguir contaminando gravemente el ambiente; maltratar al usuario al hacerlo viajar en condiciones infrahumanas (agresiones, inseguridad, estrechez, suciedad, ruidos molestos) ; continuar con el caos en las rutas; hacer lo que les da la gana en las pistas, infiernizando la ciudad, algunos transportistas aseguran que paralizarán Lima.

Unconscious of the gravity of the calamitous situation of the mass transportation service and in defense of their “right” to continue seriously polluting the environment; mistreating the user by making him/her travel in subhuman conditions (aggressions, insecurity, crowdedness, uncleanliness, bothersome noises); continuing with the chaos on the roads; doing what they want on the road, sending the city to hell, some carriers assure that they will paralyze Lima.

And while some media outlets informed [es] that 85% of carriers would abide by the strike in Lima, others signaled [es] that the strike would be political and that the president of the National Corporation of Business and Transportation of Peru (Conet) only represented 20% of Lima carriers. Meanwhile, the “Union of Road Transportation Workers of Peru SINTRATTP” published in their blog that this was a business strike and not one of transportation workers:

Estos empresarios buscan llevar agua para su molino y quiere que los trabajadores del transporte y propietarios luchen en forma gratuita para que los integrantes de su asociación empresarial sean los únicos beneficiados por la Alcaldesa Villarán. Los trabajadores y propietarios no deben dejarse manipular, por el contrario deben organizarse para que el transporte urbano de pasajeros sea resuelto con inclusión social.

These businessmen are looking to carry water to their mill and want the transportation workers and owners to fight for free so that the members of their business association are the only ones benefited by Mayor Villarán. The workers and owners should not let themselves be manipulated, to the contrary they should organize themselves so that urban passenger transportation is resolved with social inclusion.

On Twitter users shared opinions even before the strike started. Jose Carlos Aldama (@josecarlosaldam) wrote:

Osea que los transportistas no quieren multas, no quieren orden, no quieren control, les gusta el caos y encima amenazan con disturbios !

So the carriers don't want fines, they don't want order, they don't want control, they like chaos and on top of that they threaten unrest!

Meanwhile, Carlos Salina Ruiz (@crsalinas92) opined:

Linda manera de protestar #NoAlParo como si los transportistas estuvieran metidos en twitter para leer a la gente a ver que dicen.

Beautiful way to protest #NoAlParo [no to the strike] as if the carriers were on Twitter to read what the people are saying.

In the early hours of July 13 one could already read some tweets about the strike. Aldo Arnao (@aldoelio) reported:

En el cono sur de Lima todas las líneas de transporte acatan el paro. Taxis y colectivos aprovechan la situación para subir tarifas

In the southern cone of Lima all the transportation lines are complying with the strike. Taxis and buses take advantage of the situation and raise rates.

User @pitugatocalato turned to the mayor:

@susanavillaran cómo vas a subir el 100% de las multas? eso es 1 de las cosas por el cual habrá paro hoy…

@susanavillaran how are you going to raise 100% of the fines? this is 1 of the things for which there will be a strike today…

Like Vlado Barr (@tllevo):

@susanavillaran La felicito por enfrentarse con autoridad a los transportistas. Ya es hora de que den un servicio decente y digno.

@susanavillaran I congratulate you for confronting the transportation carriers with authority. It is time they provide a decent and dignified service.

Users then began to report various problems with corresponding photos, like reporter Eduardo Juarez (@ ejuarez_capital). You can find more reactions, images and citizen reports on Storify [es].

Finally, Geraldo Gutierrez Risce from the blog Derecho, Arbitraje Y Conciliación Extrajudicial reflects [es]:

Lo que debemos esperar de los profesionales que tienen la importante tarea de manejar o implementar medidas o proyectos de mejoras en la forma de vivir de la sociedad es que sean i) buenos comunicadores, ii) buenos mediadores y iii) buenos vendedores. [...] En conclusión, señores del gobierno (local, regional y central) por favor, cultivemos esta cultura, nos va a ayudar a todos, no solo a los usuarios frustrados que tendrán dificultades para movilizarse, no solo a los transportistas que encontraran a una aparato estatal más atento y no solo a la autoridad que tendrá un pasivo menos en su gestión, sino más bien al Perú que no perderá la movilidad diaria que tanta falta nos hace por estas épocas para que la economía siga rotando positivamente.

What we should expect of the professionals that have the important task of managing or implementing measures or projects to improve society's way of life is that they are i) good communicators, ii) good mediators and iii) good sealesmen. [...] In conclusion, gentlemen of the government (local, regional and central) please, let's cultivate this culture, it is going to help us all, not only the frustrated passengers that have difficulty mobilizing themselves, not only the carriers that will find a more attentive state apparatus and not just the authority that will have one less passive issue under its management, but rather all of Peru that will not lose the daily mobility that we all need in these times so that the economy continues rotating positively.

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