Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas
Photo Essay

Photo Essay: In Peru, a Daily Grind Against Inflation

In a poor neighborhood on Lima’s outskirts, supply disruptions and rising prices have residents struggling to afford staples.

July 26, 2022
Reading Time: 3 minutes

This article is adapted from AQ’s special report on supply chains

FAR AWAY FROM THE FIGHTING, the war in Ukraine is taking its toll. With inflation already rising amid post-COVID pressures on global supply chains, the Russian invasion in February sent prices skyrocketing—and left thousands of Peruvians simply unable to afford meat and other staples. In Pamplona Alta, a low-income neighborhood on the outskirts of Lima, residents have banded together to try to make do. But they are quickly running out of options—and taking to the streets to demand solutions from their under-fire president, Pedro Castillo. All photos by Daniel Becerril / Reuters.

The kitchen where Rodríguez works is one of more than 3,000 “common pots” in Peru providing meals to vulnerable communities. Lunch here used to cost one Peruvian sol (about 27 cents), but has risen to 1.5 soles in recent months due to increasing food costs, according to Reuters. “Things like vegetables and potatoes used to be cheap. Now they are super expensive,” said Rodríguez.
A wall separates Pamplona Alta from the wealthy Lima suburb of La Molina. Peru has registered the most deaths per capita from COVID-19 of any country in the world, according to some estimates, but saw a return to economic growth in 2021 of 13.1%. Even still, inequality remains high, with over 28% of the population living in poverty.
Residents of Pamplona Alta bang pots in a call for government support and more accessible food prices.
Local community kitchens have seen a drop-off in donations as NGOs and other supporters deal with their own inflation challenges. Surging food and fuel prices, especially, have sent Peruvians of diverse economic backgrounds to the streets in protest. Meanwhile, strikes and roadblocks by truck drivers and transport companies—facing sharply increased costs—have put additional pressure on the food supply.
“Common pots” like this one in Pamplona Alta use mostly donations and support from local residents to provide free or low-cost meals to the surrounding community. But rising costs for meat and poultry have made standard meals like chicken soup mostly a thing of the past. To address surging consumer prices, the government of Pedro Castillo raised the minimum wage by 10%, and in April passed a bill to exempt certain basic foods from sales tax.
Rodríguez buys ingredients for her community kitchen. Food prices in May were more than 13% higher than the same month last year, according to BBVA Research, and market prices for potatoes and other basic goods can change drastically from one day to the next. “I don’t know what to do anymore,” Rodríguez said.
Protesters demand action from President Pedro Castillo in the face of rising food and fuel prices. In April, Castillo responded to widespread demonstrations against his government by declaring a state of emergency and imposing a curfew in Lima and other cities. The curfew was largely ignored by citizens, and Castillo quickly backed down—but pressure on his government continues.

Tags: food prices, inflation, Peru, supply chains
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