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Keiko Fujimori and Ollanta Humala end of campaign rallies

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza Friday, June 3, 2011

Last night was brutual in terms of taking photos of both end-of-campaign rallies.  I had found out about the events at roughly noon yesterday while waiting to be transported to an English class in Lurin, Peru (which ended up being cancelled mid route).  There was literally no time available to place my name of the list of journalists and photographers, which ultimately left me fighting to take photos among the crowds. 

Keiko Fujimori of Fuerza 2011 held her rally in the Plaza Bolognesi of Downtown Lima at the end of Av. Colon., while Gana Peru's, Ollanta Humala returned to the "red plaza" (as it is referred to by many locals, due in part to the communist parties who have their offices located there) or Plaza Dos de Mayo, located roughly 1km from Keiko's event.   After spending an hour sardined into a small combi, I disembarked at Av. Venezuela, a few blocks from where I normally get off, thanks in part to the last minute route change.  At about 8:30pm I arrived at Plaza Bolognesi with my camera gear and my press pass hoping to squeeze in among the other photographers but was shot down when I ,at that moment, learned I was not on the list and therefore was denied entry along with many other journalists who found out the hard way. 


Keiko's rally was already underway and felt more like a concert than a rally thanks largely to the celebrity appearances of Eva Ayllon and Hermanos Yaipen.  Av. Colon was packed with supporters and curious pedestrians as the rest of the plazas five streets were closed off.  It was at this point that I was cracking my skull open to try and find a solution to my dilemma (having special press priviledges and access has spoiled me), when I received a phone call from Zdenka informing me that Humala was already giving his speech in Dos de Mayo.  Not wanting to waste anymore time, especially since Keiko hadn't shown yet, I began to hoof it over to the other plaza via the disable strech of Av. Alfonso Ugarte which connects the two plazas.  It was a dark walk over to Dos de Mayo, one which I was partially not looking forward to, given it's reputation as a high crime and theft spot (imagine it at night!) and I was not liking the prospect of having my camera stolen.  The feeling of uncertainty was intensified as I saw a couple leaving the Plaza, where a young man was doing his best to console his crying female companion who hystarically clutched her right hand while staring horrified at her bare ringer finger.  It's the kind of scene that can kill any or all remain confidence in a particularly risky situation.  After passing a temporarily erected metal gate I found myself in the lions den that was Plaza Dos de Mayo, a place that was swarming with throngs of people.  A sea of heads and flags was all I could make out from my initial location as I dove in among the crowd, following line of people who were pushing their way through the crowds.  I was at first hesitant to reveal my camera with no viable escape route but I managed to find a spot next to a few food carts where I was able to take a few shots quickly without drawing to much attention to myself.  I continued to burrow my way to Ollanta's stage but soon realized that it was going to be near impossible as it became increasingly difficult to progress through the crowds.  I made the most of it and took a few more photos (still not pleased with the overall situation), when Humala finished his speech, a bad time to be among the crowd.  Luckily I was able to menuever my way out before the congregation gained any real momentum.  Wanting a better vantage point I entered a nearby building and was granted access to the up floors, it was here that I was able to take photos of the plaza in it's entirety.  The crowd began to migrate down, what was once referred to as Av. Colmena, towards Av. Abancay on the other end of Downtown Lima (Cercado).  It was unbelievable to watch such a large amount of people advance in a singe direction, almost like watching cattle being herded.  Just as I was getting ready to leave one of the kind old ladies pointed out a car in the distance that was heading down the street in our direction.  As it got closer I was able to see the candidate Ollanta Humala standing on top of it as it slowly made its way through the people.  Quickly I switched lenses and was able to capture a few decent shots. 

Plaza Dos de Mayo


Once Humala had left my sight I made my way out of the building and down the street following the same path of the crowd.  Police dressed in full riot gear lined the streets ready to handle the unexpected, in what would eventually turn out to be a fairly controlled rally.  A long walk later, and I finally found myself on the other side of Av. Colon and as I progressed the concentration of people continued to increase as elbow room went from scarce to nil.  Keiko had arrived minutes before and was well underway in her passionate and compelling (at least that's how she was trying to work the crowd) final sell.  Unlike Humala's presentation, Keiko had her stage full of well recognized public figures making a real spectacle of her show, as sports atheletes to ex-presidential candidates (PPK) made appearances.  The biggest difficulties of the night were met here as I made my way as close to the stage as possible, eventually stopping just short of the press box some 150 meters or so from Keiko.  Giving myself the all clear approval I pulled out my camera and began taking photos when I noticed a group of people forging a path through the spectators.  At first it was hardly a problem but minutes later Keiko ended her speech (with confetti and fireworks) and what started out as a non-threatening group of people trying to find a way out, soon converted into an ugly stampeed like display of young and elderly pushing  (practically fighting) to get the hell out of the plaza.  Instead of joining them I foolishly decided to wait and hold my position (against what was likely hundreds of desperate and impatient people), and as I waited I could feel the crowd gain strength as I found it harder and harder to stand.  At one point I almost lost my footing all together which could have been disasterous for me.  Not wanting to wait and see what could happen I saw an opening and fled the scene, eventually making my way back to Av. Arica and to my home.


Cierre de Campaña

On guard

Overall I am not thrilled with the photos I took last night but it was definitely interesting to be a part of a political rally of that size and scale.  Also I am grateful that I still have my camera. :) 

1 Responses to Keiko Fujimori and Ollanta Humala end of campaign rallies

  1. Kelly Says:
  2. I like the b/w of Ollanta - there's a lot of excitement and urgency in it.


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