As the leaders of Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan, the United States and Vietnam arrive in Lima, the city for a short time at least, is in the international spot light.
The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation brings together 21 member economies that account for 60 percent of the world’s gross domestic product and is designed to develop economic ties and to promote free trade agreements between them. As the host, Peru is expected to provide meeting places, lodging and of course security. With the total number of delegates in Lima today passing 8,000, this is no small task, but one Peru is keen to make a success of.
Five star hotels have been surrounded by armed police and barricades, traffic having been diverted.
Among other leaders, China’s President Hu Jintao arrived with 600 Chinese businessmen and 12 members of his Government. China has invested billions in Peru in the past year and is expected to sign a Free Trade Agreement with the country.
In the past days the streets of the districts in which the meetings are taking place have been flooded with police. Groups of them stand on every corner and outside every hotel. In total some 99,000 police have been deployed across the entire country, as well as a similar number of soldiers, but this has not been met with a lack of worrying incidents.
A resurgent Shining Path, Maoist drug traffickers and genocidal mass-murderers, killed 3 police officers as they travelled along a road near the town of Huanta, Ayacucho. Without warning, they fired over one-hundred bullets at their vehicle before disappearing into the forest. This comes at a time when Peru is trying to counter the disruption caused by the APEC conferences to promote internal tourism by declaring public holidays in Lima. I don’t suppose the beautiful high-Amazon area of Huanta will be overflowing with tourists in the coming weeks.
Just two days ago, in a separate incident, Peruvian police arrested a man with 36 grenades in his backpack heading for the centre of Lima. Claiming not to know what the backpack contained and to have been given it by a friend, police are interrogating him to uncover any potential terrorist plot.
A total of 39,000 police officers have been deployed in Lima with 2,000 specifically assigned to protect dignitaries. Among them, are dozens of snipers placed on key buildings. Riot police will also be in force. Communist trade unionists the Confederacion General de Trabajadores, known for their bloody running battles with police, pledged to protest outside the heavily fortified headquarters of the army, when the meetings will be taking place.
Mario Huaman, the union’s secretary general, said he called the protest “to condemn Bush’s presence as he is guilty for the financial crisis, which is having a negative impact on workers.”
Courtesy of REUTERS, AFP and GETTY.