Peru: one dead in clashes on the eve of the large rally planned in Lima

At least one person died in clashes between protesters and police in Macusani in southern Peru on Wednesday, escalating tensions as hundreds of protesters from the Andes gathered for a large rally in Lima on Thursday after -noon.

This death brings to 43 the number of deaths since the beginning of the crisis on December 7.

“At 6:20 p.m. (2320 GMT), a female person of about 35 years old, who did not present vital signs, arrived at the emergency room”, according to a press release from the San Martin de Porres hospital in Macusani, Andean city of the Puno region, near the Bolivian border.

The press release also speaks of a “prognosis (vital) reserved” for a “30-year-old” man injured in the “thorax”.

A policeman throws smoke bombs during a demonstration against the government of Peruvian President Dina Boluarte in Lima, January 17, 2023 (AFP – ERNESTO BENAVIDES)

According to the local media which broadcast images, the police station of the city was burned during these clashes.

The police station were rescued by helicopter, reported the Canal-N television channel without broadcasting images.

– “Take Lima” –

Protest groups demanding the departure of President Dina Boluarte and new elections in Peru have called for a strike across the country but above all for a large rally in Lima where thousands of Andean peasants have converged in recent days.

They hope to “take Lima” and strike the spirits.

“In Lima, the fight will have more weight. When they repress us in our regions, nobody talks about it,” said Abdon FĂ©lix Flores Huaman, 30, a peasant, who says he is ready “to give his life”. He left Andahuaylas on Sunday, the epicenter of the demonstrations in December, to arrive in Lima on Tuesday.

It was for the moment impossible, despite the announcements of each other, to know the extent of this mobilization and to know how many people arrived in Lima.

Wednesday evening, before the announcement of the death of Macusani, the secretary general of the General Confederation of Workers of Peru (CGTP), author of the strike call, underlined during a press conference: “The struggle of the Peruvian people will not end tomorrow, the struggle will continue if Dina Boluarte does not listen to the people and acts arrogantly”.

“It is a national popular civic strike with peaceful mobilizations of organizations from different regions, avoiding any act of vandalism,” assured Mr. Lopez.

“It is a democratic mobilization of citizens from the provinces but also from here from Lima. They demand the immediate resignation of Dina Boluarte, the calling of new elections in 2023 and the dissolution of the Congress”, he said. he adds.

While the government declared a state of emergency for 30 days on Sunday in Lima, Cuzco, Callao and precisely Puno (where Macusani is located), the union leader clarified that the organizers had not requested authorization.

“There is no authorization from the police, we never ask for authorization for a social demonstration, it is not an obligation that they authorize us”, he assured while the state of emergency, which allows the army to intervene to maintain order, also suspends freedom of assembly and movement.

The unrest erupted after the dismissal and arrest on December 7 of leftist President Pedro Castillo, accused of having attempted to perpetrate a coup d’etat in order to dissolve the Parliament which was preparing to oust him from power.

The crisis is also a reflection of the huge gap between the capital and the poor provinces that supported President Castillo, of Amerindian origin, and saw his election as a form of revenge for Lima’s contempt.

President Boluarte called for calm on Monday: “We know that they want + to take + Lima in view of everything that comes out on the networks. Let them take Lima, yes, but in peace and calm”.

Ms. Boluarte, who was Mr. Castillo’s vice-president, succeeded him in accordance with the Constitution. She comes from the same party as him but the demonstrators see her as a “traitor”.

The authorities have in any case mobilized a large police force. Wednesday evening, several small demonstrations in Lima were framed by dozens of members of the police.

In the evening, several statues and monuments in the center of Lima were already wrapped in plastic sheets to protect them from possible damage.

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