Riots rock Lima —in footsteps of Hillary Clinton

Two were killed and over 100 injured—including 50 police officers—in riots that caused damage worth millions of dollars in the Peruvian capital Lima Oct. 25. The riots broke out when police blocked the entry of delivery trucks into the city's giant wholesale market, La Parada, which was ordered closed by the administration of Mayor Susana Villarán for not meeting safety and hygiene standards. Violence spread to the nearby industrial zone of Gamarra, where a police post was attacked with Molotov cocktails and ransacked, and shops and factories quickly closed their gates and halted operations. Some 5,000 police have flooded the district.

La Parada, in La Victoria district just south of the city center, is to be replaced with a new facility in the more outlying district of Santa Anita. La Parada's merchants say the new location is too remote and protest that they had not been consulted in the relocation. Villarán, with a reputation as a leftist, said she would be accountable for the decision to seal off access to the market, telling a TV interviewer "I am responsible." But she also said criminal elements were leading opposition to the market relocation, and even charged that Shining Path sympathists were involved in provoking the violence. She told Canal N, "According to intelligence information, there are people from MOVADEF within La Parada, together with delinquent groups and lumpen…" MOVADEF is an ostensible rights advocacy group held by the authorities to be a front for the Shining Path. (Expreso, Gestión, La RepublicaDPA, AFP, Oct. 26; Andina, Oct. 25)

Ten days earlier, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a high-profile visit to the Gamarra industrial zone, alongside Peru's President Ollanta Humala and Chile's ex-president Michelle Bachelet, now the UN's senior official for women's issues. In the photo-op tour of the zone, Clinton plugged the Women's Entrepreneurship in the Americas (WEAmericas) program, boasting its support for partnerships between women-owned businesses in Latin America and global giants like Wal-Mart. She also had high praise for President Humala, hailing his launch of a Ministry of Development and Social Inclusion. Clinton told him before the cameras: "You understood that Peru's economic strength, which had been considerable…was going to be enhanced if social inclusion were at the heart of your agenda, and at the heart of social inclusion was a commitment to women and girls." (LAHT, Peru This Week, Andina, Act. 16)