Anti-Garcia protesters block Peru's main highway
Sat Aug 15, 2009 4:09pm EDT
By Madelyn Fairbanks
PISCO, Peru, Aug 15 (Reuters) - Hundreds of protesters blocked Peru's main highway on Saturday, calling President Alan Garcia's government corrupt for failing to rebuild the city of Pisco in the two years since it was devastated by a powerful earthquake.
Protesters burned tires and snarled traffic on the Pan-American highway in Pisco, which is 155 miles (250 km) south of the Peruvian capital Lima. Some wielded sticks and pushed back riot police. Others danced and waved the red-and-white Peruvian flag. No injuries were reported.
Garcia, whose approval rating is around 27 percent, promised a speedy reconstruction effort following the 8.0 magnitude quake that killed more than 500 people and destroyed at least 37,000 homes.
But two years later, many quake victims are living in one-room shacks and some are still in tent cities. They say millions of dollars in reconstruction funds have never reached them, having been diverted or gone missing in inefficient bureaucracies.
"The president and the mayor are all liars. They haven't done anything. They are corrupt," said Nilda Solis Miranda, a resident of Pisco.
Garcia cannot run for office in the next election, in 2011, and candidates from the political left and right already are positioning themselves to take advantage of widespread dissatisfaction with the president and his APRA party.
With Peru's economy slowing with the global economic woes, Garcia -- a favorite of investors who like his pro-business policies -- has come under increased pressure at home.
Some voters say he has not done enough to fight poverty in a country in which a third of the population is poor.
Garcia shuffled his Cabinet last month in a bid to regain support lost when police and indigenous protesters clashed in June, killing three dozen people.
In another incident on Saturday, residents of the Andean mountain town of Paucartambo took over part of a power plant and overwhelmed a dozen police officers.
They were demanding that the company that operates the power plant, EnerSur, buy them fertilizer for their farms.
(Writing by Terry Wade; Editing by Will Dunham)