El Comercio reported this weekend that police clashed with settlers who had taken possession of a hill in an area of Puente Piedra called El Taro. The police had arrived in El Taro to try to remove the settlers from their lots, which had allegedly been sold to them illegally by land traffickers for S/. 30 – S./ 100 apiece.
More than 100 riot police arrived at El Taro in the early morning on Friday as part of an effort to force the settlers out of their lots. The confrontation turned violent as police threw tear gas canisters and the settlers attacked with rocks and sticks. El Comercio reports that the confrontation left two people wounded: a small child who was affected by the tear gas, and a policeman who was struck by a rock and sustained head and neck injuries.
Esteban Fernandez, the director of the neighborhood council of El Taro, told El Comercio that the area taken by the settlers belonged to the neighborhood government. Fernandez explained that the currently unoccupied land was being kept for future development of common areas, including green spaces, a church, and recreation areas.
Canal N noticias reports that more than 500 “invaders” had claimed lots on the hill. According to El Comercio, by the end of the confrontation, 13 people had been arrested, including three minors. They will be charged with illegally occupying private property and resisting authority.
Cases of “land invasions” such as these are rarely clear-cut, especially from the settlers’ perspective. Frequently, the settlers, many of whom live in extreme poverty, bought lots from illegal land traffickers who had no right to sell the land. The settlers, or “invaders” as they are often called, feel that they are therefore entitled to occupy the land that they’ve purchased. However, if the land actually belongs to a third party, they may face legal claims to the land.Conflict led to multiple arrests and two wounded.