Peru has announced a 60-day state of emergency in two parts of the country, as ongoing political unrest and a spike in crime cause fear and disruption and lead to an update in the UK Foreign Office travel advice.
Lima and Piura regions
The affected areas are the Lima region around the nation’s capital, namely San Juan de Lurigancho and San Martin de Porras, as well as the northern district of Talara in the Piura area in northwest Peru on the border with Ecuador.
President Dina Boluarte said in an interview that the measures, which include suspending civil rights such as the “inviolability of the home” are aimed at building a “frontal fight against crime and organized crime.”
Travel Weekly notes that “two other states of emergency are already in place in Pataz province in La Libertad and on the southern Apurimac-Cusco-Arequipa road corridor.”
Significant violent civil unrest
The UK Foreign Office is now advising that the government’s ability to provide consular help may be limited. “Political protests in Peru can lead to road blockades, suspension of train services, disruption in immigration services of land borders and airport closures – often without prior notice or estimated reopening timelines,” it said.
“Protests can be unpredictable, can include violence, and can spread and escalate quickly. Clashes between protestors and the security forces have resulted in casualties in the past, which included significant violent civil unrest in the Puno and Apurimac regions in December 2022 and January 2023.”
“Local police and emergency services do not have the same capacity to respond to traveller emergencies in these regions as elsewhere in Peru.”
Crime in Lima went up by over 30% last year, from 120,350 reports in 2021 rising to 160,200 in 2022. Incidents in recent days include including the launching of grenades in San Juan, including in a nightclub. At least 15 people were injured as a result.
Some local authorities are demanding armed forces be deployed to help police fight crime, while some on the right of the political spectrum are calling for the introduction of sweeping powers such as the suspension of constitutional rights as seen in El Salvador. Boluarte’s government has so far resisted such calls.
Follow instructions, take water, cash and medication
So what can travellers do to stay safe?
“In Lima protests often have a focus in the historic centre, where access can be restricted, but can also spread to other areas. Other regions that have seen recent protests include Cusco, Arequipa and Puno,” notes the British Foreign Office.
“If you do decide to visit any area under a state of emergency you should follow instructions given to you by police, military or other officials. You should ensure you travel with a sufficient supply of food, water, cash in local currency and personal medication, and allow extra time to reach your destination.
“You should liaise with your local airline, hotel or tour operator for further advice and assistance that they may provide to mitigate disruption, and for information on alternate arrangements that may need to be made for onward travel, including bus and rail journeys.”