In Peru, the severe economic crisis aggravated during the “lost decade” of the 1980s and the politics of neo-liberal structural adjustment applied thereupon since 1990, have had considerable socio-economic impacts. While the high levels of existing social inequalities are maintained, the population is confronted with a wide range of uncertainties regarding all aspects of their life. As employment conditions are characterised by informalisation and instability, a majority of the households finds it increasingly difficult to generate sufficient incomes. This results in deteriorating standards of living, status degradation and social disintegration. On the other hand, the downsizing and privatisation of the state has continuously weakened the capability of its institutions to provide with efficient services. The overall insecurities deriving from this situation are expressed most apparently in the fear of crime. Compared to other Latin American metropolises that have been transformed more profoundly since the 1990s, the socio-spatial structure of Lima has shown less visible modifications. This can be described as a differentiation of existing patterns, rather than a fragmentation of the urban landscape. Furthermore, the unsustainable urban sprawl of the previous decades, mostly through the attachment of informal settlements on the periphery, has slowed down. This was principally due to the deceleration of population growth, the increasing scarcity of available land and the congested traffic infrastructure. The exposure to direct and indirect insecurities translates spatially into a more complex urban structure, which in the residential sector is exemplified by the proliferation of fortified enclaves. The spread of enclosed residential areas is a phenomenon observed throughout Latin America. However, in Lima, the process of residential enclave building differs from other Latin American metropolises in several aspects. In the Peruvian capital, subsequently and informally enclosed neighbourhoods are by far the most dominant type. Instead of the real-estate sector offering a product, the residents themselves, mostly organised through some form of local association, initiate the fortification process. Residential spaces are being appropriated, controlled and fortified through the implementation of a series of spatial interventions, including physical-personal, organisational-legal and symbolic-cultural measures. Street gates are the most prominent physical feature of spatial intervention. Due to its ex-post nature, the spatial reality created by the enclave building process is not static, but subject to continuous change over time. The actual security geography of an area is determined by the degree of local community cohesion, the available financial resources and the importance of security-related discourses. The process is characterised by its almost complete informality. Very few of the installed street barriers are authorised by the responsible authorities, although they constrain the access to public spaces and the right of free movement. An attempt by the metropolitan authority to regulate the chaotic security landscape in 2004 has not shown significant results so far. As a widespread feature, the fortification of residential areas appeared only until the end of the 1990s. It is estimated that in 2005 the number of residential enclaves has reached approximately 300, with an estimated 400,000 inhabitants, equalling five per cent of the total population. Apart from some denser, central areas, they are now spread all over the Lima metropolitan area. Nevertheless, concentrations can be distinguished in districts such as La Molina, Los Olivos, San Luis or the western part of Ate. In contrast to the situation in other Latin American metropolises, the enclave building process is to a greater extent crossing socio-economic boundaries. While fortified enclaves are still over-represented in wealthier areas, more than half are located either in neighbourhoods of lower middle or lower classes. The process of residential enclave building in Lima reproduces social inequalities. On the one hand, the residents dispose of unequal abilities to achieve satisfying security levels according to the average neighbourhood income. On the other hand, the security provision by the police correlates with socio-economic indicators, with lower income areas receiving insufficient policing
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