December 26, 2010
Riot police on horseback clashed Saturday with thousands of squatters wielding clubs and rocks, in a pitched battle over an archeological site near Lima that was occupied a day earlier to demand decent housing conditions.
“It was a successful operation, because a protected area must not be violated,” police colonel Roberto Lujan told reporters after the hour-long clearing operation that involved 2,000 police and one helicopter and resulted in 50 arrests.
He said the squatters, some 4,500 in all, were enticed into setting up tents at the Pachacamac site by “land traffickers” who misled them into thinking they could live there.
Culture Minister Juan Ossio Acuna said the archeological site south of Lima was in peril and called for stiff punishment for the instigators of the occupation. “We’ve got to be tough with these criminals,” he added.
Most of the squatters came from Lima’s slum districts and complained of government inattention, especially lack of housing.