Police arrested the mayor of a small town in Peru on Wednesday after he violated lockdown measures in order to go out drinking with friends, before hiding from police in a coffin reserved for victims of the Chinese coronavirus pandemic.
According to local police, the mayor of Tantarà, Jaime Rolando Urbina Torres, hid in a coffin and pretended to be a corpse when officers arrived to arrest him. A bizarre picture released by authorities shows him lying in an open casket with a face mask on, while his drinking buddies are said to have hidden in drawers.
Torres was already facing widespread criticism from locals for being absent during the crisis and violating the rules as he pleased. Earlier this month, he was summoned to attend a public meeting where people accused him of failing to take the pandemic seriously.
Warning, not graphics.
This is Peruvian mayor of city of Tantarà, the moment he was found by police:
alive and kicking, but pretending to be dead in a coffin he suddenly jumped into, in the attempt, to escape arrest for violating quarantine to get drunk with friends pic.twitter.com/fs7LJ73ART
— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) May 21, 2020
After Brazil with its population of close to 200 million, Peru has been the Latin American country most severely affected by the coronavirus, confirming a hefty 108,769 cases and 3,148 deaths, the twelfth highest number worldwide. Neighboring Ecuador has the highest number of relative cases, recording approximately 169 deaths per one million people.
“There will not be a day in which the restrictions are lifted and everything is as before,” Peruvian President Martín Vizcarra asserted at a press conference yesterday. “We have to make adjustments responsibly and we will do this with the assistance of professionals and experts.”
The incident in Tantará is one of the various embarrassments faced by the Peruvian government since the outbreak began. Last month, police in Cusco doused a group of American tourists with bleach as they tried to leave the country amid the beginning of a nationwide quarantine. The incident led to victims contacting their members of Congress, who forced the U.S. State Department to contact local authorities and “ensure that “health care practices comply with international standards.”
Last month, nine people died in a Peruvian prison riot where inmates were demanding better sanitary conditions as protection from the pandemic. As part of the process of retaking control of the prison, authorities deployed over 200 policemen in a nearly three-hour operation. At least two prisoners, five policemen, and 60 prison guards also sustained injuries.