Lockdown

On Sunday, October 21st, the whole of Peru is under house arrest. Nobody may leave their home; no business may open; even the homeless will be rounded up and confined to sports stadiums. Police and military will patrol the streets to enforce the “immobility order”.

The reason for this unprecedented measure is the National Census, run by the governmental statistics institute INEI. In one day, they plan to gather information on all of Peru’s estimated 27 million inhabitants.

Tourists and business travelers will not be exempt from the measure, which will be in force from 8am to 6pm, and the Ministry of the Interior has recently reversed a previous decision and stated that anyone found out of their home will be fined.

The only exemptions are for businesses considered of absolute priority, such as hospitals and power stations. No supermarkets or stores may be open during the hours of curfew, and all transport will be suspended.

In previous declarations, INEI stated that international and internal air transport will proceed, and that taxis will be permitted to operate to and from airports – but not for other routes. However, a communiqué issued today calls that into question, stating that “aircraft… may not transit… national territory”.

Foreigners present an unusual situation, and INEI have yet to respond to The Lima Bean’s inquiries regarding how the rules apply to them. We advise that all tourists and business travelers ask their hotels what arrangements will be made.

Given that all stores and restaurants will be closed, INEI have advised that anyone who will be in Peru on the 21st of October stock up on food and other necessities a few days in advance, to prevent shortages due to sudden buying.

In addition, the purchase and consumption of alcoholic beverages will be outlawed for 24 hours, starting at 6pm on Saturday October 20th.

UPDATE

The directors of INEI have informed The Lima Bean that no exceptions will be made for foreigners, be they residents, tourists or business travelers. All persons must remain wherever they spent the night of October 20th, until 6pm on October 21st. They may leave and pass freely on the streets on the early morning of the 21st, but must then return to their hotel, where they will be allowed to leave only in case of emergency such as fire, or if they have a confirmed outbound ticket on an international flight. There will be zero tolerance for anyone found outside without permission.

Persons staying at hotels classed with three or more stars will be assessed by hotel staff, while those staying at other establishments or in private homes will be assessed in the normal manner.

In rural areas, the census will take place from October 21st to November 4th.

Machu Picchu train company fined under monopoly law

The Trans-Andean Railway Company, responsible for rail transport to Machu Picchu, has been fined over $185,000 for operating an illegal monopoly. The company has also been ordered to cease its practice of refusing to sublet trains and other equipment that it rents from the state.

According to its contract, it is obliged to rent these units to other companies that wish to operate rail service along the route. The only rental contracts that it has accepted in the past were to its own subsidiary Peru Rail, while it rejected applications by any company that was not linked to it.

This landmark ruling, the first of its kind in Peru, is hoped to bring in new completion for transport along the route, and reduce prices for tourists travelling between Cusco and Machu Picchu.

Grenade and cannabis plantation found in Lima avenue

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A fragmentation grenade and more than 200 cannabis plants have been found in an avenue in Lima’s La Victoria region.

Municipal gardeners came across the grenade at about 10am, while tending the plants in the central reservation of San Eugenio Avenue. They immediately alerted police, who called specialist officers from the EDEX “bomb squad” division to render the weapon safe and remove it.

A few meters away, the gardeners then came across a large number of cannabis plants, growing hidden amongst the trees between the carriageways of the avenue and opposite the San Norberto high school. A total of over 200 plants were found and destroyed.

Police sources state that an investigation is underway to find those responsible.

La Victoria is a central district of Lima, and the terminal for many buses to and from the capital. However, many parts of the large district are generally poorly policed and unsafe for foreigners.

Machu Picchu entrance fee may rise to $100

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Peruvian tourism minister Mercedes Araoz today discussed the measures that may be put into place to preserve Machu Picchu, including further entry controls and the construction of a cable car system, in association with UNESCO and the World Tourism Organization.

“We have to administer the entry system and the administration of tours, as well as the opening hours,” she said, at a ceremony to mark the site’s election as one of the “New Seven Wonders of the World.

She added that her ministry is working alongside the private sector on several projects, such as the installation of viewpoint at strategic locations and new tour routes around the site.

She ruled out any increase to the entry price for the site, which currently stands at around US$38 for foreigners and $17 for Peruvians, saying “there is no reason to increase the cost of visiting Machu Picchu, and no technical study that suggests any price increase”.

On the other hand, Cusco’s regional president Hugo Gonzalez has suggested a substantial increase to the entry price, which is already significantly greater than that of any of the other sites elected as ‘wonders’. “Foreigners are already spending at least $1000 on their flights and accommodation, so they can afford to pay more for the main reason they came here.”

Gonzalez suggests free entry to residents of the Cusco region, a reduction to $10 for other Peruvians, and an entry price of $80-100 for foreign tourists. Including other fees and standard transport to the site, this would bring the total cost of visiting Machu Picchu from Cusco to around $200.

Loreto strike in force

The 72 hour regional strike in Peru’s jungle Loreto region has started, with road blocks on the Tarapoto-Yurimaguas highway and closures on all levels.

The strike, called by the local government in response to new taxation laws concerning the area, is estimated as having a 90% impact on the region’s commercial and official activities including the departmental capital of Iquitos.

Hospitals, markets and some public transport operators remain functional.

Despite widespread protests, the situation has been described as “peaceful”, with no injuries or damage to property reported.

Apolo, Bolivia, calls on Peru to invade

Locals of an ecological reserve in Bolivia have held protests demanding that they be annexed by Peru. Waving Peruvian flags, as many as 4,000 people filled the local square and called on the mayor to extend an invitation to Peru to occupy the region.

The small town of Apolo, located just 6 hours’ walk from the Peruvian border, marks the entrance to the Madidi National Park, an Amazon wildlife refuge that includes around 1.8 million hectares (4.5 million acres) of pristine rainforest.

Officials opposing the protest claimed that the people were angered that the protected nature of the area prevents them from being legally allowed to log the forest or take advantage of oil reserves thought to exist in the region.

Speaking from La Paz 200km away, Bolivian President Evo Morales referred to the protesters as “drug traffickers and wood smugglers”.

Newborn found abandoned in Puno

With the umbilical cord still attached, a new born baby weighing 3.3kg (7lbs 4oz) was left abandoned near an orphanage in the mountain city of Puno, on the shores of Lake Titicaca. The infant was wrapped in a sweatshirt, and would not have survived the freezing temperatures that Puno experiences each night.

Police operatives found the child and, giving her the name Hermelinda, took her to the local hospital’s neonatal ward. Her condition is described as stable.

Local people have come forward with an array of gifts for Hermelinda, including baby milk, clothes, and diapers.