Kids man the roadblock on Avenida de la Cultura, a main thoroughfare that stretches from the historic center of Cuzco to the suburbs to the east. Private cars were allowed through, albeit with plenty of whistling and yelling at the drivers.
The road was transformed into a large soccer field.Although Peru has had a healthy economic growth rate in the past few years (9% in 2007), the gains have mostly been in the coastal areas and the south. The Andean highlands and the Amazon region still see a large amount of poverty, and prices for gas and food have seen a dramatic increase lately.
In Lima, Mario Huamán, the secretary general of the General Confederation of Peruvian Workers, which organized the work stoppage, called out to the increasingly unpopular president of Peru, "Listen, Alan García, the kitchen pot is empty. The pot is empty because of you!" García is accused of selling out his socialist roots in order to enrich the oligarchy of Peru. (Today, Bloomberg announced that Peru's central bank is raising the benchmark rate in an effort to control inflation, which was at 5.71% last month; the bank has already raised the rate four times previously this year.)
All in all, the strike was a low-key affair. With the sun in the late afternoon providing warmth, most Cusqueños I ran into seemed to be enjoying a midweek day off with their friends and family. There was no violence that I witnessed, even when cars ran through the roadblocks. Kids would just gather up more rubble after the cars drove through, in an attempt to stop the next vehicle that might be tempted to drive through.
Postscript: Predictably, García cast partial blame for the strike on Venezuela's and Bolivia's respective presidents, Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales, alluding to them in his statement, "They say we should be an Andean, Aymaran, Bolivarian republic, and some want to do this by force."