Monday, April 15, 2013
Premier: Crime is Biggest Problem Facing Peru
Peruvian Premier Juan Jimenez has called for national unity to fight crime, asking Congress and all government institutions to work together in a commitment to ensure the safety of the nation’s citizens.
Jimenez addressed Congress and took questions from lawmakers on Friday, in answer to Congress’ demand that he explain the administration’s polices to curb crime. His cabinet also presented a 2013-2018 national plan to combat crime which is available through the Ministry of Interior.
The Congressional session was held amid a growing criticism of the government for not doing enough to improve security and lower crime rates. Crime is the biggest problem facing the Andean nation, Jimenez said, even though it is less in Peru than many other countries in Latin America.
“We are far from being arrogant and indifferent. I reiterate my commitment to join forces also with regional and municipal governments in this pact. We have an economic growth that is recognized by world institutions but this cannot guarantee success if we don´t have an integrated policy. We can defeat crime together,” he said.
The session in Congress came a week after the kidnapping of a local business owner in the district of Lince, and a day after a daylight shooting in Lima’s leafy Miraflores district, which is popular with businesses and tourists. In the latter, a Colombian was killed and another man injured in a car by drive-by shooters on a motorcycle, in what police report to be a probable settling of scores.
The men had recently arrived in Peru, reportedly to start a business to export liquor. They also planned to buy and sell horses, according to daily El Comercio. It wasn’t immediately clear if there were links to drug trafficking.
“Our government is aware that it is the main problem in the country and that without security there isn’t development,” Jimenez said, according to daily La Republica.
Jimenez said the government is seeking to improve the standards and quality of the National Police force, partially by increasing pay to attract better personnel and by punishing cases of corruption more severely.
Jimenez said officials are also tackling one of the sources of crime in the country: an expanding drug trade. Peru has seen its cocaine production rise steadily during the past decade and is now the world’s top producer of the drug.
The government has previously said that it plans to increase anti-drug efforts, including eradication of coca plantations. Jimenez pointed to those initiatives on Friday as part of the government’s overall plan to tackle crime.
The premier also said that officials are working on implementing better tools for police, including an improved information system. In addition, the government plans to strengthen immigration controls and build new prisons. Peru’s current prisons are overcrowded and notoriously violent.