Regions in northern Peru, battered by rain, call strike against national government to protest neglect

By April 13, 2023

Lima, Peru — Authorities in regions of northern Peru that have been battered by torrential rains have announced they’ll join an indefinite strike against Peru’s national government, citing that the administration of President Dina Boluarte hasn’t provided support for the affected communities.

Leaders in the Tumbes and Piura regions made the claims against the government, and on April 11, Segismundo Cruces, the Regional Governor of Tumbes, confirmed that his region will join the indefinite strike that leaders in Piura organized a few days earlier.

“We have already made the decision. We are talking about organizing ourselves in this fight. We all know that the Central Government does not send money and puts up obstacles,” he told Radio Exitosa.

“We are facing the floods alone. To date, we do not have a budget to face this emergency,” added the regional governor.

In addition, he reported that the decision was not taken by him, but by the mayors of his region in response to the request of the population that every day demands help.

The governor of Piura, Luis Neyra, told Canal N that the national government has not provided funds for debris removal and reconstruction after rivers overflowed and severely damaged the region.

“I agree with the annoyance of the mayors, because until now they have not transferred a single coin to the regional government,” he said.

Desperation has increased for authorities and citizens in northern Peru near the border with Ecuador. Thousands were affected by Cyclone Yaku, which slammed the region from March 4 to March 20, and they’re now feeling the effects of  “El Niño Costero,” a weather phenomenon that causes abnormal heating of the waters in the Pacific Ocean and the increase in rainfall, something that has caused floods and mudslides.

Cyclone Yaku: about 20 streams were activated in Lima due to the rains. Image courtesy of ANDINA/Vidal Tarqui.

In Piura and Tumbes, houses, streets and avenues are flooded, and locals are asking authorities to help with fumigation as flies and mosquitos are rampant. 

Peru’s Ombudsman Eliana Revollar sent a report to the Ministry of Health stating that Piura has 5,362 homeless, 63,153 affected, and 65 health centers damaged due to torrential rains.

She also reported that Tumbes has 42 homeless, 2,601 affected and 13 health centers that suffered damage due to flooding.

The Ministry of Health reported that to date there is a national increase of 202% in cases of leptospirosis compared to March 2022. This bacterial disease occurs mainly after heavy rains.

Added to this problem are the 36,103 people infected by dengue in the country, most of them located in Piura.

The role of the government

To deal with natural disasters, the Peruvian government declared a 60-day state of emergency on March 26 in the northern regions of Lambayeque, Piura and Tumbes.

According to state news agency Andina, this decision will allow “the implementation of emergency, immediate and necessary measures and actions, for response and rehabilitation.”

On Monday, the national government sent a ship to Piura with more than 500 tons of humanitarian aid and machinery for the regions of Tumbes, Piura and Lambayeque.

Ship arrives in Piura with more than 500 tons of aid for victims of rains. Credit: Image courtesy of Peru’s Government.

“Humanitarian aid is a part of the state’s response, which is accompanied by the transfer of resources to regional and local governments in the affected areas. This way they will be able to deal with the emergency,” Boluarte said before the boat set sail.

However, Governor Cruces said that authorities in his region “are not aware” of the humanitarian aid sent and that no authority from the national government has contacted him to coordinate.

Cruces announced that they only know “that the ship left” and that it is probably “running aground today at the Paita pier.”