The rondas use a system they say dates back to the Incas, but some have accused them of human rights violations.
Former Wall Street banker Pedro Pablo Kuczynski has been sworn in as Peru’s new president.
The conservative politician, who is known as a technocrat with a polished resume, choked up as he took the oath of office on Thursday, before donning his new red-and-white presidential sash over his pinstriped suit.
“I will seek equity, equality and fraternity among all Peruvians,” he said, vowing “not just economic, but human growth”.
His predecessor, Ollanta Humala, left office after a tenure marked by constant cabinet changes and an increase in crime.
As he starts his term in office, Kuczynski is hoping to to kick-start the slowing economy and unite a country deeply torn by a close election.
“He has always been right of centre, but now he is talking about starting a social revolution,” Al Jazeera’s Mariana Sanchez, reporting from the capital, Lima, said.
“He doesn’t want to be speaking about the mega-projects his government is going to do,” she said.
“He wants to speak about how he wants to give [basic services to] 30-40 percent of Peruvians who lack access to them.”
Oxford graduate Kuczynski, 77, defeated Keiko Fujimori in a hard-fought presidential election last month which was decided by a razor-thin margin.
Kuczynski won 50.1 percent of the vote, while Fujimori, the daughter of jailed ex-president Alberto Fujimori, got 49.9 percent.
But, even though she lost the election, Fujimori’s Popular Force Party won an absolute majority in congress.
“It is going to be difficult for Kuczynski to govern,” said Al Jazeera’s Sanchez.
“Fujimori’s party won an absolute majority in congress, which was unprecedented.
“Some of the congressmen from Fujimori’s Popular Force Party are already saying that they will not give a green light to everything Kuczynski proposes.”
However, Kuczynski said he wanted to be “optimistic about the future”, Sanchez added, pointing out that the Peru’s constitution gave the president powers to “not have to ask for approval from congress for every project that he does.
“Kuczynski said that he will be asking for reasonable things,” said Sanchez. “He is trying to have a closer approach to Fujimori’s party.”
Kuczynski is a cousin of Franco-Swiss filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard and his American wife, Nancy, is a cousin of the Hollywood actress Jessica Lange.
His father, a doctor, was an officer in the German army in World War I but fled when Adolf Hitler came to power. In Peru, he worked treating lepers in the Amazon jungle, where he spent part of his childhood.
Kuczynski was educated at a school in northern England and studied piano and flute at London’s Royal College of Music, according to his CV filed with the electoral authorities.
He then studied at Oxford University and Princeton before working in Latin America for the World Bank.
He says he was expelled from Peru in a military coup in the 1960s while serving as head of the state reserve bank. He lived in the United States for years, working for banks and other companies.
He returned to Peru in the 1980s and served in various ministerial posts on and off over the following decades.