Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

Peru’s President Wants the Army to Fight Petty Crime in the Streets

Peru’s president, Pedro Castillo, has made a reactionary proposal to put the military in the country’s streets as a way to fight petty crime. It’s part of his effort to regain some of the populist approval he’s been losing since his election last July.

Federico Quispe

February 19, 2022
Facebook Twitter Share

Disapproval of Pedro Castillo’s administration in Peru has increased so significantly — reaching 79 percent in Lima and 65 percent nationwide — that the president and his closest advisors have opted for reactionary populist positions that coincide with the most conservative sectors of the country as a way to stem the tide.

It is in this context, coupled with a growing perception on the part of residents that Lima in particular has become unsafe, that Castillo announced that he would be pushing for the military to get out of its barracks so it could take to patrolling the streets along with the National Police. He made the statement at a public event held in Lima’s populous El Agustino neighborhood.

Holding a whip to emphasize his iron fist proposal, Castillo declared:

I ask the Minister of the Interior to coordinate with the Ministry of Defense not only to use the police, because not everything is the responsibility of the police. We are going to bring out the Armed Forces to fight, once and for all, the petty criminals and the big criminals. We cannot stop this any other way; we must work together.

The cities of Lima and Callao have already been under states of emergency for 45 days. The supreme decree that authorized those measures empowered the army to take to the streets together with the National Police and local government troops to arrest and repress those they consider to be disturbing the public order.

Castillo appeared in El Agustino not only with his chicote de rondero [patrolman’s whip], but also wearing a bulletproof vest. He was surrounded by dozens of security personnel. He told the media that he would personally like to join the operation to agarrar a choros [grab the thieves] — a reminder of the disastrous campaign of Keiko Fujimori in 2015 and the call to chapa tu choro y dejalo paralitico [catch your thief and leave him paralyzed] or the repression unleashed by retired army general and form Minister of the Interior Daniel Urresti, who — with gun in hand — tried to make himself out to be some sort of urban superhero.

These declarations, and Castillo’s latest posturing, is all gimmickry aimed at recovering the popular support that today eludes the president and Peru’s executive branch as a whole.

The evidence from several studies shows that militarizing public safety does not solve the problems of petty crime and people feeling unsafe. Rather, harsher measures create a breeding ground for human rights violations and other abuses of authority that end up harming people’s rights to free movement and the exercise of their democratic rights, which in turn contributes to governments in power drifting toward greater authoritarianism.

The increase in petty crime cannot be properly understood without a comprehensive assessment of what is happening in our society and in the world. There is a close relationship between unemployment and underemployment, migration, poverty, and educational precariousness and the increase in crime and insecurity. Furthermore, we cannot lose sight of the fact that a large component of crime is associated with drug trafficking and human trafficking — crimes in which high-ranking police officers and even some high-ranking judges are complicit, as several investigations have revealed.

To pull out the roots of crime, we must first put an end to social inequality, which is a direct result of the capitalist system and its institutions of law and repression.

Moving forward on that path will not happen by further empowering the Armed Forces, the National Police, or similar institutions, but by confronting Big Business (national and foreign) and the austerity plans imposed by the state. These plans are aimed at cutting workers’ wages, reducing the budget, diminishing the quality of education, making work precarious, promoting unemployment and massive layoffs, and eliminating public housing, health, and other services — in other words, demolishing the things that could help many of the young people who today commit crimes to enjoy decent lives.

First published in Spanish on February 18 in La Izquierda Diario Peru.

Translation by Scott Cooper

Facebook Twitter Share

Latin America

Woman holds a yellow sign that says "Nueva constitucion" in black text and another person is holding a yellow sign behind her that reads "No violencia clasista"

‘Boric Has Strengthened the Right-Wing Opposition’: Interview with a Chilean Socialist

In Chile, the illusion of winning the battle against neoliberalism in parliament has been shattered. We interviewed Chilean socialist Dauno Totoro about the recent rejection of a proposed constitution and the need to fight for a revolutionary, internationalist, and socialist Left.

Left Voice

September 25, 2022
Chilean president Gabriel Boric

Chileans Reject Proposed Constitution

On Sunday, Chileans overwhelmingly rejected a new proposed constitution. The result reflects both a rightward shift in Chile and disillusionment with President Gabriel Boric.

Otto Fors

September 6, 2022
Protesters in Puerto Rico in Old San Juan in the dark. Protesting LUMA private electricity company.

Police Repress Protest in Puerto Rico as People Continue to Demand End of Contract with LUMA

Puerto Ricans are protesting constant power outages, after their electrical grid was partially privatized. They are demanding that the private electric company, LUMA, have its contract canceled. In response, they have faced repression and police brutality.

Raura Doreste

August 29, 2022

Cops Out of Martial Arts: You Can’t Make “More Humane” Agents of State Terror

Leandro Lo, a world champion in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, was recently shot and killed by an off-duty cop in Brazil. Martial arts coaches and practitioners often welcome cops into their spaces, saying they’re then less likely to use deadly force. Let’s be clear: cops have no place in martial arts schools

Mike Pappas

August 10, 2022


Italian far-right leader Giorgia Meloni gives a speech, an Italian flag covers the podium

Elections in Italy amid Political Crisis: Interview with an Italian Socialist

The right wing is expected to win in Italy’s snap elections on Sunday. An Italian socialist explains the origins of the current political crisis, the rise of the right wing, and the tasks for the Left.

Left Voice

September 21, 2022
Detroit protesters hold green banner that says "DTE" Affordable Renewable Energy Now

Detroiters Say ‘Hell No!’ to DTE’s Proposed Electricity Rate Hike

Detroiters are confronting regulators who are deciding whether private utilities can extract more profits from the working class during energy, inflation, housing, and climate crises.

Lee Palmer

September 20, 2022

Say Her Name! Protests Erupt across Iran after Police Murder of Mahsa Amini

Iran has erupted over the death of a young woman in police custody for "improperly" wearing the hijab. In the context of a deep economic and political crisis, Iranians are also questioning their deeply unpopular regime and its brutal oppression of women.

Maryam Alaniz

September 20, 2022
US President Joe Biden stands in a suit wearing a mask, but is taking off one side of it.

Despite What Biden Says, the Pandemic Isn’t Over

Joe Biden and the bourgeoisie may be ready for the pandemic to be over, but that doesn’t mean Covid-19 has gone away.

Olivia Wood

September 20, 2022