I have been blessed to have had the opportunity to visit many cities, such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Mexico City, New York City and many others. Of course, being megacities they are also considered dangerous, where crime rate is high and where being in the wrong place at the wrong time could be the difference between life and death. But living in Lima, also known as the City of Kings, has been a different experience on its own.
Due to high rates of crime and violence, Lima has unfortunately become an extremely dangerous city to live in. In the past there were some so-called ‘safe districts,’ where criminals did not dare to even venture, but that’s all changed now. Crime has become daily news and has escalated to unthinkable proportions, causing citizens to feel unsafe wherever they go, no matter what they might be doing.
The criminal menu we are up against is by no means a very reassuring one (i.e. robbery, rape, extortion, human trafficking, and more). Not to mention, Peru has one of the highest rates of femicides in the world (as a region, Latin America has the highest female murder rates), and this year officials seized about 30 million in counterfeit money. I wish I could tell you different, that it’s all about our gastronomy and our beautiful archaeological sites, but the reality is harsh and completely different.
Why do people here in Lima seem so unfriendly, rude, at times wary of trusting anyone who gets close to them? Perhaps it is because people live in such fear of being violated or becoming a victim of a crime. The local news is extremely blunt when reporting crime incidents and I think people here live in a psychosis, they live defensively, with their guard up. It gets so bad that sometimes we can’t even ask one another for directions without getting stared at as a response, as if one has hidden intentions. Unfortunately, these crimes can occur at any time and can happen to anyone. It seems in my opinion that criminal organizations have no fear whatsoever to the consequences of committing a crime in our society. There is a complete disregard for human life, which is an outrage in my humble opinion.
I can’t help to wonder how the impact of this aberrant behavior of society will affect our future as a country, as we open our doors wide to the tourism industry. I applaud and appreciate the efforts of our current president Mr. Kuczynski, going to China and making efforts to saturate our country with Chinese visitors (which would greatly benefit our economy) but as long as this problem remains unsolved, I see no positive outcome in the future.
How do we solve this ongoing and dangerous problem? This is the unsolved mystery faced by our authorities and Peru’s Minister of the Interior Carlos Basombrio. Martial law in the Callao district? No positive results. Criminals get arrested and they are out on the streets committing the same crimes they were arrested for before. Many will put the blame on extreme poverty and lack of education, but I think is more complex than just that. Peruvian idiosyncrasy is to not follow rules and obey laws and that is such a shame. Parents as well as educators need to play a big role in this monumental task with the new generation. Unfortunately, corruption is infested in the highest levels of our Judicial System, to the point where judges, prosecutors and attorneys can be bought off to the highest bidder. I also can’t help to compare how in the States there are stiffer laws as far as armed robbery or even spousal abuse or femicides are concerned. Stricter laws with no room for bribing is a big deterrent for criminals. As the saying goes, “don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time”. That in my opinion works wonders.
Fernando Calle is a Peruvian born, American citizen who has lived in the USA for over 25 years. He is a Cardiovascular Technologist and Sleep Disorder Specialist, having worked for Baptist Health Systems (Florida, USA) where he held the position as Chief Technologist of the Respiratory Disorders Department. After having worked for his own companies (Sleep Services of South Florida and Total Health Diagnostics, both in south Florida), he currently resides in Lima, Peru on a new quest as an English Teacher. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.