For decades, the “ronderos” inside the Peru They have protected their lands and fought the crime that afflicts their communities through whipping and public derision, orchestrated in a kind of militias that today make up the hard core of the presidential candidate Pedro Castillo.
“You already know what comes next.” Raising a whip (whip), and with a defiant voice, the patrolman Demosthenes Irigoín thus threatened a neighbor of the humble northern region of Cajamarca, arrested for traveling undocumented “late at night” with two horses suspected of having been stolen. .
At 60, Irigoín knows by heart the statutes of the peasant rounds, who were born more than four decades ago in the community of Cuyumalca, in the Cajamarca province of Chota.
Every Wednesday between 8:00 pm and 9:00 pm, the rondero meets with his companions, most of them farmers, to begin his night patrol.
For about six hours, divided into groups of between six and twelve people, the members of this autonomous and voluntary Andean militia they enter the darkness of the mountains, while chewing coca leaves and walking along stone paths under the dim light of the stars.
A farmer with his cattle, in the rural area of Chota, in northern Peru. Photo: EFE
Then, they settle in “strategic points”, watching for the barking of dogs or any strange movement that raises doubts or threats to order and peace.
They are all men -there are female rounds but the women do not march at night-, they wear their traditional sheep’s wool ponchos, high rubber boots, caps or the typical Chotano hat; some carry leather whips, others wooden staves.
“So we go out to take care of and watch over the hamlets to keep the residents safe. The criminals are afraid of us and do not steal from us,” said Irigoín.
The first modern peasant round was born in 1976 with the desire to combat crime and theft of livestock, problems that had been accentuated in the province of Chota, which today is said to be proud of being the cradle of these organizations in Peru.
A truck with a poster supporting Pedro Castillo, in Chota, Peru. Photo: EFE
“The round was born due to the carelessness of our leaders and because there is no security presence in these localities,” Aladino Burga, current president of the Provincial Federation of Peasant Rounds of Chota, told the EFE agency.
Added to this was the disappearance of the landowners due to the 1969 agrarian reform, according to the Cajamarcan anthropologist José Pérez, who argued that this new context generated “disorder and chaos” and threw “a political vacuum” that was filled by thieves. livestock.
“The rounds quickly destroyed the cattle ranch” and soon went from being mere “collective efforts to defend private property” to also wanting to “realize a common good at the service of the communities,” the expert explained.
Communal justice and punishments
This is how the rounds gained functions: they began to exert pressure on the authorities – for example, to “build a bridge, a school or a university” – already solve with their own hand conflicts of their communities, from land ownership and theft to drug trafficking and adultery.
“Previously, the conflicts that existed between peasants ended in the judiciary, in long and expensive trials, and our ronderos brothers realized that they already had an organization with which they could solve problems,” former rondero Daniel told EFE. Idrogo, who was the first president of the Provincial Federation of Chota.
At the end of the 70s, the effectiveness of the Chotan rounds motivated their expansion in other regions of the country, where these organizations were also constituted in the organ of communal justice, with a regime that includes physical punishment, whipping and public derision against thieves and criminals.
During the years in which Peru suffered the violence of the Maoist guerrilla Sendero Luminoso (1980-2000), the rounds stopped the entry into the terrorism zone that planted attacks and death in most of the Andes.
A woman carries her mules along with posters supporting the leftist candidate for the presidency of Peru, Pedro Castillo, in the town of Tacabamba, Chota province. Photo: EFE
That “power” that they demonstrated motivated, according to Pérez, the creation of a legal framework that today recognizes them as organizations destined to the service of the community and to the protection of their lands and that protects their actions among the peasant and native communities.
Now, the presidential candidate of Peru Libre, Pedro Castillo, a former patrolman Chotano, put the debate on the table again and reiterated that an eventual mandate of his will strengthen the rounds to work hand in hand in the fight against insecurity citizen.
Castillo, who this Sunday will measure forces with his rival Keiko Fujimori, promises that if he reaches the presidency he will promote the development of these organizations and will try to assign a budget to them.
On that, the president of the provincial Federation of the Chota rounds said that it would be “magnificent” because to date the authorities “have little or nothing interested” in them, because “there has never been a reward or support from the Government,” he said. .