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Peru: Police Enforce Blockade in La Parada Market

[All links lead to Spanish language pages unless otherwise noted]

Following the violent incidences [en] that occurred on Thursday, October 25, during a street blockade operation that aimed to deactivate the wholesale market La Parada, and the tense calm experienced the following day with a new operation being aborted, finally Saturday 27 saw the execution of the programmed blockade. However, there were two more deaths [en], some 100 arrested [en] and an unconfirmed number of injured persons.

Around 11am on Saturday, the police contingencies began to arrive in masses to La Parada. Immediately this sparked a reaction from local residents and traders, amongst others, giving way to the first confrontations. The police responded with tear gas canisters and started to position the cement blocks.

At 1pm, it is reported that the police contingency in La Parada had reached approximately 5000 in number, and at 2pm the majority of the cement blocks had been positioned. Around 3pm the operation had practically been completed, but for security reasons 1000 police officers had been prepared and would remain distributed across the areas of La Parada and Gamarra until the following day.

The Mayoress Susana Villarán [en], for her part, pointed out that they are only obeying the law and bringing order to a dangerous area. She also said that the new wholesale market is something that “people from Lima deserve”, and she praised the work of the police. For his part, the Chief of the Seventh Region's Police Force declared that the operation went “impeccably”.

La Parada, Lima, Perú.

La Parada, Lima, Peru. Photo by fokus Lima in Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

This same day however, Lima was devastated by rumours of looting coming from different districts. Many of them were false but some confirmed, though none with huge implications.

The General of Peru's National Police Force (PNP), Raúl Salazar, declared that “There is a social-psycho in the networks that has been misinforming society.” It is not clear if it was something that was coordinated or not, but even traditional media outlets have echoed the rumours, and on Twitter for some time they appeared to be coming fromall sides. Sociologist Gonzalo Portocarrero was asked about the role of social networks in this, he said:

Parece ser que en las redes sale un poco el inconsciente social. Se revela una verdad que de otra manera, se esconde. No es decente sostener públicamente que hay que matar a todos los delincuentes, pero en las redes sí se puede circular esto entre amigos…

It seems to be that the social unconscious appears a little in these networks. It reveals a truth that in another way, is hidden. It is not respectable to declare publicly that all delinquents should be killed, but this can be circulated on these networks between friends…

Rumours are not the only thing to be circulated in social networks, the dreadful impression that the first, and failed, operation left, still remains in the minds of many people. Martín Soto writes some short reflections in his blog:

Ahora, en qué país, unos vándalos manejan mejor información y van mejor organizados [y armados] que las fuerzas del orden.

No me da la cabeza para más. Igual, la semana que viene, esos vándalos que hoy jugaron al Mortal Kombat, seguirán cargando tu fruta.

Currently, vandals manage better information and are better organised [and better armed] than police forces.

I can't stand to spend any more time thinking it over. Nevertheless, next week those vandals that played Mortal Combat today, will continue loading your fruit.

Many people, from different political pools, have much to say following the events of some days ago: their conclusions are not normally positive. The Economist, César Vásquez Bazán, ex-Minister during the first aprista [en] government, writes:

Los vergonzosos sucesos del jueves [...] pintan un auténtico cuadro de lo que es el Perú de la actualidad. Una sociedad desorganizada, atrasada, desmañadamente dirigida, con un amplio sector de la población viviendo en estado de pobreza. Gente desheredada que ante la posibilidad de perder los pocos cobres que obtiene en empleos precarios en el comercio mayorista, defiende lo que considera suyo y expresa con violencia su rechazo al Estado expoliador y a sus representantes, sean éstos el Municipio de Lima o la policía.

The shameful events of Thursday [...] paint an authentic picture of the current situation in Peru. A society that is unorganised, backwards, awkwardly run and with a large section of the population living in poverty. People are disinherited facing the possibility of losing the little money that they obtain through precarious work in the wholesale business, defending what they consider their own and expressing their rejection of the State, and its representatives, violently, be it the local government of Lima or the police.

In the blog Voz liberal del Perú [The Liberal Voice of Peru], Dante Bobadilla sets out to separate the matters:

Por un lado está el tema mismo de La Parada como mercado mayorista, y por otro lado está el problema de la marginalidad social que existe en esa zona. [...] No deberían mezclarlos y acabar llamando delincuentes a los comerciantes. No se trata de apoyar la delincuencia sino de reconocer los hechos con objetividad y condenar la ineptitud de nuestras autoridades. [...] en el tema del mercado mayorista hemos asistido al fracaso anunciado y previsto luego de una larga lista de torpezas cometidas por la gestión de Villarán, [...] es obvio que la alcaldesa Villarán no tiene un plan para La Parada ni mucho menos para toda esa zona.

On the one hand is the matter of La Parada as a wholesale market, and on the other hand is the problem of social marginalisation that exists in this area. [...] The two shouldn't be mixed so as not to end up labelling traders as delinquents. It isn't about supporting delinquency but of viewing the events with objectivity and condemning the ineptitude of our authorities. [...] with regards to the matter of the wholesale market, we have been witness to the failure announced and forecast following a long list of blunders committed by the management of Villarán, [...] it's obvious that the Mayoress Villarán doesn't have a plan for La Parada nor for the whole area.

On the other hand, Eduardo Gonzáles mentions Fujimorism [en] and Senderism [en] as actors responsible in good measure for what happened, since “both are projects that feed upon extreme marginality”:

El fujimorismo, porque el capitalismo sin reglas de lugares como La Parada o negocios como el transporte urbano, genera riquezas extraordinarias y una burguesía lumpen con líderes y redes clientelares. El senderismo, porque lugares como La Parada generan riquezas sólo a condición de la explotación y embrutecimiento atroz de sectores populares de pobre experiencia organizativa. Ni unos ni otros buscan soluciones, sino, por el contrario, el mantenimiento de un statu quo de ilegalidad y violencia. [...]

Fujirmorism- because capitalism without rules in places such as La Parada or in business such as urban transport, generates extraordinary wealth and a bourgeoisie underclass with leaders and clientelistic networks. Senderism- because places such as La Parada generate wealth only as a result of exploitation and atrocious brutalisation of popular sectors with poor organisational experience. Neither looks for solutions, instead quite the contrary, the preservation of a status quo of illegality and violence. [...]

In the blog Kausa Justa (Just Cause), from the Equipo de Incidencia en Derechos de IPRODES (Rights Advocacy Team), they publish a communiqué “facing the sad facts of La Parada”, where they point out that “the responsibilities are clear” and correspond in first place to the traders in La Parada, but also to the Metropolitan Municipality of Lima and its Mayoress Susana Villarán. While the responsibility of the traders is criminal, that of the Council is in order and improving Lima.

The Peruvian Team of Forensic Anthropology details a series of lessons that outline what happened in La Parada, amongst which they state:

Consideramos que esta situación no se solucionará con políticas meramente represivas o de “profilaxis social”, sino con un enfoque integral que contemple la prestación de servicios básicos de seguridad, educación, salud y transporte, aspectos sistemáticamente negligidos por muchas administraciones del Gobierno Central.

We consider that this situation will not be resolved merely by repressive politicians or by “social prophylaxis”, but instead with an integral focus that contemplates providing basic security services, education, health and transport, aspects that are systematically neglected by many Central Government administrations.

Furthermore they reject certain versions that indicate that NGOs could have some sort of responsibility for violent events such as those in La Parada.

Finally, the journalist and writer Dante Castro offers a reflection from the Left:

La alcaldesa Susana Villarán ahora enfrenta la insurgencia de diversos sectores e intereses unidos que se resisten al ordenamiento y la reubicación. El descontento ha sido capitalizado por la derecha que pide su revocatoria. [...] Queda demostrado hoy que Susana Villarán no tenía una estrategia social para la reubicación de La Parada.

La reubicación de La Parada implica la desarticulación económica de dos distritos que han vivido gracias a ella. Cerrar el paso de camiones con grandes bloques de concreto, implica que cientos de personas no trabajarán los siguientes días. Pero más allá del reordenamiento necesario, esto nos obliga a meditar acerca del caos que trae el crecimiento capitalista en Lima.

La Parada sale, victoria del municipio, pero esto deja sin ocupación a una multitud que vive en los alrededores. Los delincuentes, entre quienes se alzaron, no fueron tantos. Eran más los sub-ocupados, estibadores, ambulantes, vendedores de alimentos, recicladores, etc., que se quedan en la calle. La mafia se traslada a Santa Anita: solamente es un cambio de lugar. Los que amasan fortunas siempre ganan, aquí o allá.

The Mayoress Susana Villarán now faces the insurgency of different sectors and interests united by their resistance to management and relocation. The discontent has been capitalised on by the Right that begs for her revocation. [...] It remains clear today that Susana Villarán didn't have a social strategy for the relocation of La Parada.

The relocation of La Parada involves the economic dismantling of two districts that have lived dependant on it. To close the road with big blocks of cement affects hundreds of people that will not be able to work in the days following. Beyond that of the necessary rearrangement, it forces us to meditate around the chaos that the capitalist growth brings to Lima.

La Parada's relocation is a victory for the Municipality, but this leaves a multitude of people that live in the surroundings without work. The delinquents, amongst those who rebelled, were small in number. It was those that are part-time workers, stevedors, street vendors, food vendors, recyclers etc., that are left in the street. The mafia have moved to Santa Anita: but this is only a change of location. Those that amass fortunes will always win, here or there.

Original post published in the personal blog of Juan Arellano.
  • vcs1vcs1

    Some people seem to believe that the closing of La Parada was some sudden event. This was in the planning and publicly announced for more than one year.

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