Lima, Sept. 9 (EFE) – The master plan to recover Lima’s historic center, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1991, has advanced about 30% in its first three years and now faces the challenge of ensuring that it is integrated as part of the identity of the inhabitants of the Peruvian capital.
“Identity is missing, so it’s important for us to make the importance of Lima’s historic center visible,” Juan Pablo El Sous, spokesman for the Municipal Program for the Recovery of Lima’s Historic Center, told EFE.
The progress of the plan, which was projected in 2019 and will last until 2035, will be discussed by Unesco between September 15 and 25 in Riyadh.
The debate over the use of Lima’s historic center has been particularly heated in 2023, as it has been the scene of daily anti-government demonstrations, some of which have ended in violent clashes with police.
During the first major protest in Lima, which took place on January 19, a building that was part of the area declared a World Heritage Site was burned down in unexplained circumstances.
This prompted the conservative mayor, Rafael López Aliaga, to declare the historic center an “intangible zone,” limiting the possibility of holding demonstrations in the heart of Peruvian power.
This was seen by his critics as a violation of the fundamental right to protest, as this is the traditional place for demonstrations.
The restricted area includes, but is larger than, the area declared a World Heritage Site.
THE CHALLENGE OF RECONCILING LIFE AND HERITAGE
The marches highlighted the complexity of the work involved in preserving a historic center where all the power is concentrated, where thousands of people live, and where commercial and labor activity is constant.
For this reason, explains El Sous, it is important to “explain to the public what the historic center of Lima means.”
“For the people of Lima, it means something because it is the place where our city was born and for that it has a value that we should all appreciate. But unfortunately this is not the case for all the people who live in the city. We are talking about a city of 12 million people, and many of them pass through the historic center of Lima once a year or less,” he said.
Despite the delay in launching the strategic plan due to the arrival of the pandemic, El Sous said that they are currently “carrying out several works throughout the historic center of Lima.”
The “Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan” includes the pedestrianization of several streets and the introduction of other transportation alternatives, such as a tramway that will connect the two ends of downtown.
In addition, the Special Landscaping Project for the Rímac River includes the restoration of four kilometers of the river within the historic center of Lima.
To date, the restoration works have allowed the rehabilitation of 70 monuments and public sculptures, as well as the facades of five churches, the recovery of 13 historical gardens, the improvement of 3 small squares, the planting of 1,980 trees and the removal of 13 tons of overhead telecommunication cables.
There is a “commitment of the state” to complete one hundred percent of the master plan by 2035, coinciding with the V centenary of the founding of the city. EFE