Peru faces food, fuel shortages

Published : 26 Jan 2023 08:55 PM

Shortages in Peru of basic products, including increasingly expensive fuel and food, continued to mount Wednesday as over a month of anti-government demonstrations showed no end in sight.

Dozens of roadblocks are hindering freight deliveries to the country's south, where protests have been most intense since the ouster of former president Pedro Castillo in early December.

Rallies demanding the resignation of his successor, President Dina Boluarte, have repeatedly turned violent, with 46 people dying in clashes between security forces and protesters.

Although poorer southern regions have fueled the anti-government movement, thousands of villagers have also traveled to the capital Lima, where violent clashes Tuesday resulted in injuries and arrests.

Liquified petroleum gas (LPG) -- the most popular fuel for vehicles and homes in Peru -- has become increasingly hard to find in the southern regions of Arequipa, Tacuna and Puno.

All three are relatively poor with large Indigenous populations, with protesters from the regions claiming abandonment and discrimination by officials in Lima.

"I've already been told there's no more LPG in Arequipa," Alexander Cornejo, a national taxi driver representative, told the RPP radio station.

Some 7,000 taxi drivers in the region have been affected by the scarcity.

In the city of Puno, where some of the worst violence has occurred since December 7, prices of basic food items such as potatoes and tomatoes have tripled.

Peru's transportation ministry reported Wednesday that 85 roadblocks remained throughout the country.

"Vegetables and fruit prices have gone up. Everything has increased, I think the vehicles that supply us should (be allowed to) pass," Jacqueline Flores told AFP in Puno.

- Major disruptions -

The Amazonian region of Madre de Dios, on Peru's border with Brazil and Bolivia, reported food and fuel shortages after protesters blocked the major Interoceanica Sur highway.

Governor Luis Otsuka said that if the roadblocks continued he would have to try to source food and fuel from Brazil and Bolivia.

Boluarte, who on Tuesday called for a "national truce" to end the crisis, has come under fire from rights organizations for alleged repression of protests and the disproportionate use of force by security.

Rejecting her call, thousands marched in Lima again on Tuesday, with some clashes breaking out between police and the protesters.

Multiple people were arrested and several were injured, including two photographers, one with AFP, who were hit by pellets and stones.

Boluarte on Wednesday held a video meeting with the Organization of American States (OAS) to discuss the situation in Peru.

The airport in the tourist hub of Cusco was briefly shut on Tuesday evening due to protests but reopened on Wednesday, the transportation ministry said.

Several airports, including in Cusco and Peru's second city Arequipa, have been shut numerous times after protesters attempted to storm them.

The train service from Cusco city to the famed Inca citadel of Machu Picchu has also been suspended after demonstrators blocked train tracks with bricks.

On multiple occasions, dozens to hundreds of tourists have found themselves stranded, either at Machu Picchu or Cusco.