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Protests Erupt in Peru Ahead of Asia-Pacific Economic Meeting


The police in Lima, the Peruvian capital, stood guard during a protest against President Obama on Friday. Credit Rodrigo Buendia/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

LIMA, Peru — Hundreds of state workers have marched through the streets of Lima, the capital of Peru, because they have not been paid. Fishermen have protested being told they could not fish, complaining that they have no other means to feed their families. And residents living near Machu Picchu shut down trains to the famous Inca ruins, saying that the company operating the railway is unresponsive to commuters relying on it to get to work.

Pacific Ocean

As President Obama and 20 other world leaders prepare to gather in Peru for the summit meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, or APEC, forum here this weekend, a wave of protests is springing up around the country. Some Peruvians are taking advantage of the opportunity to pressure their government while the country is in the international spotlight. Others say they are just fighting to survive.

In Lima, where Mr. Obama was expected on Friday, about 500 small-scale fishermen and their families turned out in the southern district of Chorrillos to protest security restrictions related to the APEC forum that will keep them from fishing until Monday.

“We won’t have any food for our children tonight,” said Juana Rosa Rivas, 43, who relies on her husband’s daily catch. “What will we feed our families with for the next four days?”

Capt. Jorge Nuñez of the Peruvian Navy said Thursday that the security measure was put in place by the military while a warship was patrolling the Pacific Ocean off Lima. On Friday, he said that the fishermen would be allowed to go fishing with “precise instructions to not enter the bay of Miraflores area, for security reasons.”

In Comas, in northern Lima, workers at a network of maternity hospitals were on strike, demanding better pay. More than 1,000 state workers who said they had not been paid for six months were threatening to intensify their protests unless the Health Ministry solved the salary crisis.

The conditions in the capital — and the stress on its nearly 10 million residents — appear to be worsening: There was a fatal fire at a Lima shopping mall on Wednesday across the street from one of the hotels where the APEC meeting will take place. Four people were killed and dozens were injured, though the authorities said the fire was accidental.

The mayor of Lima, Luis Castañeda, was rushed to a hospital on Wednesday after having a heart attack at his home. Doctors said he was stable after an operation on Thursday morning.

The government has declared Thursday through Saturday as nonworking holidays to alleviate traffic in the capital. Many residents are heading out of the city for the long weekend, though some travelers accused bus companies of price gauging and were protesting at some stations.

Trains serving the central town of Aguas Calientes, near Machu Picchu, were halted this week after residents protested the railway’s management. Garbage, usually removed by train, has been piling up near Machu Picchu, a major tourist destination.

More than 2,500 tourists a day travel to Machu Picchu by train through Aguas Calientes from the Ollantaytambo station in nearby Cuzco, about 360 miles southeast of Lima. “No one wants to disserve the community that directly benefits from the tourists,” said Mercedes Aráoz, one of two vice presidents of Peru.

The protests against the railway company were halted on Thursday so that residents and representatives of the government could discuss a solution.

Carlos Bosombrio, the interior minister, said the protesters’ decision to disrupt operations around the time of the APEC meeting had upset some Peruvians, including the security forces. But, he added, “some leaders think their demands will be better received.”

Correction: November 18, 2016

An earlier version of this article misstated when Capt. Jorge Nuñez of the Peruvian Navy said fishermen would be allowed to go fishing in certain areas off Lima. He said it on Friday.

Source: NYT > World

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