The government has extended the state of emergency in the port city of Callao for a further 60 days, in an effort to permit broader police action to reduce delinquency and violent crime.
The measure — which Interior minister José Luis Pérez Guadalupe said was to prevent possible gang wars — was first imposed in December 2015 when police reported a sharp increase in deaths from violent crime. The measure has been extended continuously since then. The law prohibits public gatherings and allows police to arrest suspects and search private property without a warrant.
However, despite widely publicized actions by the police, there has not been any significant drop in the crime rate.
According to police statistics, there was an average of 10 deaths a month in 2015 prior to the state of emergency. Since the state of emergency was first applied in December, 3,200 police have been patrolling Callao and 27 hired killers have been arrested. But also 45 people have been killed —an average of nine a month.
“There is no strategy, for operations or intelligence,” said UN security specialist Federico Tong to El Comercio.
Former Defense minister Roberto Chiabra said the measure could only be effective if the Interior Ministry had an action plan in place beforehand. He told Correo daily that the problem is social and believed measures such as a state of emergency cannot get to the root of the issue.
Presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori has suggested that a state of emergency could be used in Lima as well to fight crime, but this was refuted by one of her own party, re-elected congressman and former police chief and Interior minister Octavio Salazar, who said a state of emergency is nothing but a condescending deception.
In the recent general election debates, presidential candidate Pedro Pablo Kuczynsky said the high rates of violent crime in port cities such as Callao and Chimbote are related to drug trafficking at every level. Callao, long notorious for its ghettos of criminals, is a major point of exit for cocaine smuggling, especially to Europe and Asia.