Piura region did not experience any separatist movements until after Doomsday. Piura was notably the third Spanish city founded on the South American continent, giving rise to a stunning mestizo culture, featuring a unique gastronomy and culture. Following Doomsday, thousands of upper-class and middle-class Chinese migrated into Peru, searching for better life than in devastated China. An estimated 7,000 to 10,000 migrated to the area around Piura via the ports of Paita and Talara. Many joined the existing Chinese community, leading to the creation of a Chinatown in the city centre. These Chinese were already wealthy, and despite having to trade in their Renminbi, patacas, and Hong Kong dollars at low prices, they were able to establish a good quality of life. In order to do this, many built expensive houses on the city's outskirts.
By 1995, a group of Chinese known as Kwong Tam Tong had gathered economic power by monopolizing the chifa (Chinese Peruvian restaurant) industry, and exercising economic control of the city politically. This was accomplished by hiring Chinese and indigenous workers to work for low pay, and making deals with other Peruvian corporations. Left-wing Chinese politicians used the opportunity to gain support in Piura, and slanting the Asian Peruvian vote away from the right-wing policies of Alberto Fujimori. This was due in part to Piura's outlying location in relation to the rest of Peru.
In 1997, with the beginning of the Andean Conflict and civil war, Chinese residents of Piura tried to avoid persecution by the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement by declaring itself against the Fujimori administration. Ecuador, sensing this political change secretly encouraged Piuran professor Eugenio Chang Cruz to lead a rebellion against the Peruvian government. Kwong Tam Tong was renamed the Piuran Workers' Party, and began recruiting supporters of Alan García, Mario Vargas Llosa, and other opponents to Fujimori. The PWP entered the Andean conflict against the Peruvian government in early 1998.
By 1 March 1998, the PWP controlled several hectares of land, and proceeded to declare independence. Although most disapproved of the new Chinese-ruled state, the lower classes felt that it was their only hope to prevent terrorism. In addition, the Chinese upper-class formed the backbone of the Piuran economy and if they collapsed, so would their livelihood. Most opposition came from the middle-class and upper-class mestizos and Europeans. They offered severe resistance in outside the city, and impeded Piura's growth outside a few small areas of control. The Peruvian government was busy fighting in other ares, but this did not stop them from sending troops to Piura, which prevented the Piurans from entering cities such as Chiclayo. Juan Briones Dávila, the leader of the Directorate Against Terrorism, did not wish to lash out for fear of killing innocent people, and decided to exercise restraint.
Piura had a large amount of support from nearby Asian communities. By mid-1998, Piura's territory was comprised of many cities along the northern Peruvian coast. The Piurans used military strength to force local officials out of their governments, and holding them hostage in various locations, which included salt flats, remote villages near the Ecuadorian border, and the island of Isla Lobos de la Tierra.
However, once the situation with Ecuador was partially resolved, and Peru and Ecuador agreed to a ceasefire, Peru launched a major invasion of Piura. Fighting continued in the city for months until the Peruvian Armed Forces managed to capture Eugenio Chang Cruz in a local chifa. Abdalá Bucáram, the president involved in the secret deals with Piura, was removed from office, and thus conflicts halted almost immediately due to a lack of power structure. The government of Piura was dismantled and the politicians involved were imprisoned or faded into austerity.
Since the Andean Conflict, Piura as a city has reborn out of the ashes, becoming a major economic centre for Northern Peru. The Chinese community still exists, but has become more politically moderate. President Marta Chávez granted official pardon to many formerly involved in the government of Piura on the grounds that it was out of wartime chaos that they chose to side with Piura.
Piura had a rich mestizo culture prior to Chinese arrival, composed of traditions from the Mochicans and Quechuas mixed with that of the Spanish. The city has produced unique forms of dance. Coastal Peruvian Spanish is the most commonly spoken language, although many words have been borrowed from Quechua, the language of the Incas. Roman Catholicism is the most common religion, practiced by the vast majority of non-Chinese. The most famous and distinct characteristic of Piura is its gastronomy, including seco de chabelo, algarrobina-based drinks, many types of seafood and fish, and Natilla Sweets. The most famous handicraft from the city is its Chulucana Pottery.
The first Chinese arrived as early as the mid-19th century, and continued to form a small part of the population up until today. Many Chinese today are of mixed descent. Chinese people never formed a plurality in Piura, making up only about 25% of the population of the city proper. However, they imposed a degree of economic control which is reflected in the many Chinese-owned restaurants. Chinese culture has not penetrated deeply into the lives of mestizos, Amerindians, and other groups. Many Chinese are beginning to adopt the Spanish language despite the percentage that speak Chinese. Many Chinese adopted Roman Catholicism, but a significant minority continued to hold to Buddhism and traditional Chinese beliefs. The Chinese members of the government did not make an attempt to force Chinese culture on others simply because it was too foreign, instead supporting the Spanish language and Roman Catholicism.
Government and Politics
Eugenio Chang Cruz managed to set up a non-functional presidential republic based on the former government of Peru. Eugenio Chang Cruz was "elected" president and under him he appointed a cabinet and a "Republican Senate." Most of the government members had connections to Chang somehow, due to his lack of being able to run successful elections. This was mostly in part to the lack of recognition for the military state. Of the 32 members of the Republican Senate, 11 were at least part Chinese. In reality however, the Republican Senate was powerless, and the real power lied in the hands of Chang and members of the Piuran Workers' Party and military. The only elections that took place during Piura's existence featured 182 votes, unanimously in favour of Chang, leading to obvious questions on the legitimacy of Chang's administration.
Piura's economy that was regulated by the Piuran Workers' Party was based primarily on the trade of weapons, Chinese restaurants, salt, and some forms of light industry, leading to a decline in GDP. Today, Piura has sometimes been considered among the richest regions of Peru for land quality due to the potential for agriculture, tourism, mining (fossil fuels and metals), and agriculture. It also exports crude oil through the port of Talara. However, a large part of the population still lives in poverty. Piura has openly sought foreign investment, which has come from the Celtic Union, Chile, Mexico, Argentina, and Brazil. Piura's forest has a high potential for growing crops such as rice, which has rapidly become the most commonly grown crop in Piura. Several dams have been constructed inland to facilitate growth.
Piura did not generally make contacts to nations outside Ecuador. Piura communicated mostly to other separatists and socialist movements, such as the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement, and various etnocacerista (ethnic nationalist) groups in the Andes. On one occasion, Chang sent diplomacy requests to the governments of the Jiangsu and the remnants of the rogue government of Hong Kong under Lau Wong-fat. However, both requests were rejected almost immediately. This was mainly because Piura did not offer any promising investments or political value.