Lima's mayor confesses to cover-up of downtown murals

Thu Mar 12, 2015 5:55pm EDT
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By Mitra Taj

LIMA (Reuters) - First a mural in downtown Lima that depicted indigenous Peruvian revolutionary Tupac Katari was painted over. Then one of a boy stacking bricks on top of books suffered the same fate.

Lima's arts community was incensed. And suspicious: The yellow paint covering the works evoked the hallmark color of the new mayor's political party.

On Wednesday, after a third mural turned yellow, Mayor Luis Castaneda confirmed his government was behind the effort, literally covering up the traces of a predecessor who had welcomed the pieces.

"They don't go with the historic center," Castaneda said in a televised news briefing on Wednesday, shrugging off criticism.

The now-deleted murals were painted in Lima's gritty downtown district during the 2011-2014 term of former Mayor Susana Villaran, Castaneda's archrival, whose government helped secure permits.

The dispute has touched a nerve in Lima, where an emerging arts scene often struggles for space as rents rise in the fast-growing city of 10 million.

Castaneda, a conservative and populist leader, said erasing the artwork was merely part of his government's bid to revamp the historic center.

But that plan might now backfire, said 36-year-old designer and arts advocate Elliot Urcuhuaranga.   Continued...

A man walks next to a mural in Paseo De La Republica street in downtown Lima, March 12, 2015.  REUTERS/ Mariana Bazo