By Carla Samón Ros |
Lima, (EFE).- Ernesto lives on top of one of Lima’s hills, a few steps from the so-called “wall of shame”, a stone and wire fence that separates his humble neighborhood from the wealthy district where he works. The man, a watchman by profession, admits that it will be strange for him to look at the slope of “the rich” without coming across this controversial urban border whose days are numbered.
One hundred and eighty days is the term that the Peruvian Constitutional Court (TC) has established to make effective the sentence that orders the demolition of this wall of more than four kilometers that divides La Molina and Villa María del Triunfo or, in the words of Ernesto, “those who have a ticket and those who do not.
“This wall identifies us (as) people of another class,” the man told EFE, from the garden of his plywood house with a tin roof, erected in one of the populous settlements of Villa María del Triunfo.
On this side of the wall, Monica, his wife, intervenes, “there is nothing.” The majority of houses, built irregularly and thanks to mafias dedicated to land trafficking, lack drinking water and drainage. Its steep and sandy streets have no asphalt and any notion of urban planning is conspicuous by its absence.
The image is opposite to the other side, where there are paved streets, green parks and exclusive houses with all kinds of comforts.
“There, there is everything,” the woman emphasizes, before admitting that those who will be “damaged” by the collapse of the wall will be the residents of La Molina because, on their side of the hill, which now looks uninhabited, “the land traffickers”, who occupy vacant areas to later sell, outside the law, small plots to poor families looking for a home.
Image of inequality and discrimination
It was precisely the fear that the invasions of Villa María del Triunfo would advance towards the other district that motivated the construction of this controversial wall in 2011, popularly nicknamed the “of shame”, as the wall of shame was known in the western part. Berlin that divided Germany during the Cold War.
The Mayor’s Office of La Molina alleges that the wall, which has already become one of the most iconic images of inequality in Latin America, seeks to protect citizen security and prevent the installation of illegal settlements in an area destined for the construction of an ecological park.
But, in the eyes of many, it criminalizes the residents of Villa María del Triunfo and violates several of their rights.
For this reason, the Constitutional Order ordered the total demolition of the wall for affecting the right to free movement and equality and non-discrimination.
Land traffic at stake
Despite recognizing the symbolism of the TC ruling, Ernesto insists that, in practice, “the wall doesn’t bother anything.” At the height of his settlement, he has an abandoned control tower and a free access of stones and wires that allows him to cross the fence daily, heading to his workplace.
And his is not an isolated case. His neighbor Adrián also usually crosses the wall to go to his job as a cabinetmaker in La Molina, where “there is more work.”
«I don’t know why the need to want to tear down the wall. Personally, it doesn’t hurt me at all. I have my pass and I even have my little plants there, look,” Adrián comments to EFE, while pointing with his finger at the small garden that he built a few meters from the wall, on the slope of La Molina.
The man, in his forties, agrees that the demolition of this urban border will bring more invasions to the hill, which, he asserts, will benefit the land traffickers who tricked him and his family five years ago.
For Adrián, who says he is “threatened with death” by these mafias -and for this reason he did not want to reveal his identity, like Ernesto and Mónica-, the solution to this controversial wall should go through a citizen consultation that allows the residents of both sides decide on their future and not by a judicial resolution that, he says, will only “give more power to the leaders.”
An alert that, paradoxically, was also launched by the current mayor of La Molina, the conservative Diego Uceda, who did not rule out going to international bodies to avoid compliance with the Constitutional ruling, which also urges the national Congress to approve laws that combat usurpation and land traffic in a comprehensive manner.