Messi, Argentina national football team to play Peru amid heavy security presence

Key tourist and commercial districts of Lima have been under a state of emergency since September

The Peruvian capital of Lima will host Argentina’s men’s national football team this Tuesday under a partial state of emergency. The match, part of the fourth set of fixtures for the South American Qualifiers, will take place under a set of security measures announced in September to fight crime.

Last Wednesday, the state of emergency in effect in the Lima districts of San Martín de Porres and San Juan de Lurigancho was extended to the districts of Cercado de Lima and Lince, in the city center, by Prime Minister Alberto Otárola. The districts are close to Miraflores, where the Albiceleste squad has set up camp. 

The clash between Argentina and Peru is set to be played this Tuesday, at 9 p.m. local time, 11 p.m. in Buenos Aires. Lionel Messi’s presence remains uncertain, after the Argentina captain made his Albiceleste return from the bench against Paraguay. 

“Messi is training, and if he’s feeling well he’ll play,” said Argentina national team coach Lionel Scaloni. The Albiceleste looks to make it four wins in a row after beating Paraguay last Thursday, while Peru is yet to win in the qualifiers. 

The state of emergency has also been implemented in other parts of the country as part of an effort to combat organized crime, including contract killing, the sex trade, and human trafficking.

Peruvian security forces have been patrolling the streets during the early hours of the morning. For 60 days starting on October 11, between the hours of midnight and 4 a.m, social gatherings and events will be banned, nightclubs will not be allowed to open, alcohol sales will be forbidden, and people will not be allowed to move around in large groups. 

The state of emergency also suspended constitutional rights such as freedom of movement, freedom of assembly, and inviolability of the home (allowing the police or military to enter without a court order if they have “reasonable suspicion” the inhabitants are involved in a crime). However, it does not implement a curfew.

In Lince, three kilometers south of the National Stadium where the game will take place, Peruvian police broke up several sex trafficking gangs. During the raids, they found over 160 women in situations of sexual exploitation.

President Dina Boluarte said that extending the state of emergency aimed to “support residents and entrepreneurs who have invested in small businesses and to provide security to the thousands of tourists who visit our historic center.” 

According to Peru’s ombudsman, crimes reported to the police rose by around a third between 2021 and 2022. Authorities say the crime rate has fallen by between 12% and 28% in the areas where the state of emergency is in place. 


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