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Peru: worried about fires, Lima declares war on street vendors

By order of the mayor of Lima, Rafael Lopez Aliaga, more than 1,000 policemen surrounded the historic district of Mesa Redonda to prevent the installation of more than 5,000 street vendors.

The order, justified by the proliferation of fires, unleashed a protest by merchants who demanded not to be treated as “delinquents”.

More than 1,000 members of the Peruvian National Police and 700 municipal guards were ordered by the mayor of Lima, Rafael López Aliaga, to surround and prohibit the entrance of street vendors to the Mesa Redonda district.

, Peru: worried about fires, Lima declares war on street vendors
Mesa Redonda commercial district, downtown Lima (Photo internet reproduction)

The measure seeks to remove from that area of the city some 5,000 informal vendors who agreed to the registration and relocation plan proposed by the mayor’s office of the Peruvian capital.

The police and municipal inspection contingent seeks to enforce municipal decree n°010, which declares the commercial districts of Mesa Redonda and Mercado Central as a “rigid zone for informal commerce and vehicle parking”.

The Lima authority justifies its determination on the need to prevent fires, an evil that has affected these districts on several occasions in recent years and which, it is implied, is related to the proliferation of informal commerce.

Indeed, Mesa Redonda has been known in the last twenty years as an area of distribution and stockpiling of pyrotechnic material.

Several fires occurred there in recent years, including one on December 29, 2001, when a fireworks warehouse caught fire and caused 277 fatalities and more than 500 injuries.

“With the operation plan for the recovery of spaces, we will not allow the entrance of street vendors who had taken over the streets and obstructed the entrance and exit roads of these two commercial emporiums if a fire were to occur, as those that have already happened in previous years”, explained to La República the manager of Citizen Security of the municipality of Lima, Abdul Miranda.

Although precarious buildings have also been detected in formal businesses, the Lima authorities target street traders in a sector that can attract up to one million visitors during the festive season.

According to the Lima mayor’s office, the vendors block the evacuation routes, making any fire outbreak even more dangerous.


There are 5,028 street vendors who, between April 14 and May 5, 2023, accepted the agreement proposed by López Aliaga to formalize.

The program classified the workers according to their trade and, according to La República, promised to provide them with spaces to set up, including exemptions in the payment of rent during the first three months.

However, the merchants say they feel cheated by Mayor Lopez Aliaga, as they did not get access to the spaces inside galleries they expected.

For that reason, the merchants protested in the center of Peru’s capital with signs saying, “We want to work” and shouting, “We are street vendors; we are not criminals”.

“From one moment to the next, the municipality says that the prohibition is in force, and so far, we do not know where or when we will go,” said a vendor in a wheelchair, who showed her National Council for the Integration of Persons with Disabilities (Conadis) card.

Marco Vásquez, leader of the organized street vendors, accused that they feel deceived and that there was never the will to initiate the relocation process at the municipal level.

“Let’s see if the mayor listens to us and fulfills what he promised because the papers are useless. There are elderly and disabled people here,” said Vásquez.

Meanwhile, Lima’s mayor’s office appears to have other plans for vendors.

According to what the manager of Economic Development, Elia Urmeneta, told local media, “there are more than 60 private companies that offer more than 2,000 secure jobs”, so “they only have to come to the management to help them with the curriculum vitae”.

He invited traders to “go to the training centers for entrepreneurs so that they can become their bosses and in three months study gastronomy, cosmetology, and motorcycle repair.”

With information from Sputnik

News Peru, English news Peru, Peruvian capital Lima

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