Anti-government protests escalates in Peru, dozens killed

Demonstrators confront police forces as they block the way to Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport during a protest on Jan. 11, 2023 in Cusco, Peru. (Michael Bednar/Getty Images)

Wednesday protests against the government of Peruvian President Dina Boluarte, which have killed 47 people since they began a month ago, moved throughout the Andean nation's southern region, with additional skirmishes reported in the tourist city of Cusco.

Sixteen citizens and six police officers were hurt, according to Cusco health officials, as protestors attempted to seize the city's airport, where many foreign tourists arrive to visit neighboring Machu Picchu.

Protests and road blockades against Boluarte and in support of deposed President Pedro Castillo occurred in 41 provinces, primarily in the south of Peru.

The uprising began in early December due to the lack and detention of Castillo, Peru's first president of poor, rural origins, following his widely condemned attempt to dissolve Congress and prevent his impeachment.

The demonstrators, primarily from rural sections of the country still loyal to Castillo that have been neglected, are demanding immediate elections, Boluarte's resignation, Castillo's release, and justice for the protesters slain in skirmishes with police.

On Monday, 17 people were killed in battles with police in the city of Juliaca near Lake Titicaca, and demonstrators afterward attacked and burned to death a police officer. This was the bloodiest day of the protests.

In addition to the slain police officer, the Peruvian Ombudsman's Office reports that 39 people have been murdered in fights with police, and another seven have perished in car accidents due to road blockades.

The government of Peru has imposed a three-day curfew in Puno from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m.

The National Prosecutor's Office stated that it had requested information from the Presidency of the Council of Ministers and the defense and interior ministries for an inquiry it has launched into Boluarte and other officials in connection with the protest killings.

In Juliaca, in the province of Puno, a mob marched alongside the coffins of the 17 protesters killed on Monday.

"Dina killed me with bullets," a note attached to the coffin of Eberth Mamani Arqui stated, referring to the current president of Peru.

"This democracy is no longer a democracy," the victims' relatives chanted.

As the demonstrators passed a police station guarded by scores of officers, they shouted, "Murderers!"

A group from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights arrived in Peru to investigate the protests and police response.

Boluarte served as Castillo's running mate before assuming the presidency. She has supported a proposal to move the previously scheduled 2026 presidential and congressional elections to 2024. She has also voiced support for judicial inquiries to determine whether security officers used excessive force.

However, such measures have thus far failed to quiet the unrest, which, after a brief lull during the Christmas and New Year's holidays, has resurfaced in full force in some of Peru's poorest regions.

Castillo, a political novice who lived in a two-story adobe house in the Andean highlands before moving to the presidential palace, won by a razor-thin margin in 2021 elections that shook Peru's political establishment and exposed the deep divisions between residents of the capital, Lima, and the long-neglected countryside.

Publish : 2023-01-12 13:56:00

Give Your Comments