LIMA — Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori's 2-week-old government appealed for calm today after a drastic austerity plan was met with shantytown lootings and protests in which security forces killed four people.
Police opened fire on a mob of about 100 people looting a food warehouse in the northern city of Trujillo overnight, killing one man, police said. He was the latest victim of the backlash to the new austerity package.
The austerity program, announced Wednesday night, included a 3,100% boost in gasoline prices, huge price increases in food staples and sweeping exchange and foreign trade reforms.
Transport was paralyzed across the country for the second day in a row today as bus companies demanded the government boost fares to match the gasoline price rise.
Most economists praised the plan as tough but necessary to rescue the state's bankrupt finances, but it sparked a rash of protests and lootings at shantytown food markets where security forces killed three people Thursday and injured four others.
"Some adverse reactions . . . are absolutely normal, but we call . . . on the population to have patience and stay calm," Labor Minister Carlos Torres said in a radio interview.
Lima appeared to be calm today. But crowds of people in at least three other cities swept through markets overnight stealing food, police and radio reports said.
Supermarket owners posted armed guards at their doors, and most small shopkeepers closed for fear of looting or because they had no idea what to charge.