Violent protests at Peru's capital over new highway toll

AP News
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Posted: Jan 12, 2017 4:07 PM

LIMA, Peru (AP) — Hundreds of Peruvians threw homemade explosives and rocks while police fired tear gas during a protest Thursday over a new road toll into Lima.

It was the second time in under a week that residents of the poor Puente Piedra district outside the capital fought with police on the Pan-American Highway, which is their only route into Lima.

The district's mayor and leftist lawmakers are supporting the protesters' demands to eliminate the toll, which is $1.50 to both enter and to leave Lima. But Lima Mayor Luis Castaneda says city's hands are tied because the toll is part of a project approved by his predecessor to build and maintain roads.

Protesters are angry because the $3 daily cost for driving to and from Lima is a burden in a country where the minimum wage is about $250 month. Not all the demonstrators have cars, but the toll has also driven up the cost of riding on buses and mototaxis.

A protest last week also erupted into violence during which demonstrators burned toll booths, and officials responded by temporarily suspending collection of the toll.