Two Killed, Many Injured During Clash at Lima’s La Parada Market

Two people were killed Thursday and some 100 others injured when a riot broke out as police tried to relocate the La Parada market in Lima.

A 32-year-old man, who was reportedly a shopkeeper, was killed when he was shot in the stomach, the director of the Dos de Mayo hospital, Jose Roca, said. Another man died shortly later.

Some 100 others were treated for injuries, including eight police officers and a minor, local media reported.  One mounted police fell from his horse during the violence and was dragged and beaten by rioters.  His mare’s leg was broken in the fight, and she was put down that same evening at the mounted police barracks.

The violence erupted when rioters clashed with police who were sent to shut down and move the market. Images  showed rioters throwing stones and beating bloodied police officers.

La Parada has been the city’s main wholesale market for decades, located in Lima’s La Victoria district. Plans to move the market to the perimeters of the city have been underway for many years, and facilities were built at Santa Anita, on the eastbound Carretera Central. The previous municipal administration postponed part of the works and refrained from moving the market because of the potential backlash from some middlemen in the Parada market.  

However, the Santa Anita market has finally been completed to meet full safety standards and Lima’s municipality had ordered the wholesalers be moved to the Santa Anita district this month. A large part of the wholesalers have already been moved.

Lima’s mayor, Susana Villaran, has called the overcrowded, ghetto-like maze of streets of La Parada a “time bomb.” 

“The Civil Defense has said that it cannot continue here, it is a time bomb,” she said in September. “They are boxed up, there is only one exit. Imagine an earthquake or a fire.”

In a press conference Thursday, Lima’s deputy mayor, Eduardo Zegarra, denied charges that the municipality had not properly coordinated with police the removal of the workers and relocation of the market.

“Two weeks ago the mayor started the co-ordinations for the operation,” he said. “The police and Interior Ministry received a request from the municipality to put barriers at the entrance to La Parada. The objective was only to restrict the transit of vehicles to the market.”

Instead, Zegarra said the violence shows that the market is controlled by criminals. “What has happened today tells us who controls La Parada. They are criminal groups that have brutally attacked police.”

Moments later, looting also broke out in the nearby Gamarra garment district, which was recently visited by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her recent trip to Lima. Videos showed police arresting a number of people, including minors.

It was also announced Thursday that Villaran may face a recall referendum.

Opponents of the mayor have collected sufficient signatures to continue with their demands for a recall election. A government agency still needs to announce whether the referendum can go forward.

Villaran won a 2010 election to become mayor by coming from behind to defeat prominent politician Lourdes Flores. However Villaran has been heavily criticized even since before she took office, and today her popularity ranks around 20 percent to 25 percent.

Some say the campaign against Villaran has been led by Lima’s previous mayor, Luis Castañeda, whom Villaran had been critical of and investigated over allegations of corruption during his administration.

Marco Tulio, the main spokesman for the campaign to remove Villaran from office, said he is “totally satisfied” with their work.

“I imagine that the popular consultation will be in January and according to what [the National Elections Board] establishes, in March we could have an election for a new mayor for Lima,” Tulio said.

The mayor of Lima is considered one of Peru’s most important political positions.

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