Peru: President calls for “a national truce” before a large rally against her

Peruvian President Dina Boluarte on Tuesday called for a “national truce” as protests demanding her departure and the dissolution of parliament continue unabated and have already claimed 46 lives.

A large demonstration bringing together thousands of poor protesters from the Andean regions was to take place in the afternoon in Lima.

“I call on my dear homeland for a national truce” to “restore dialogue”, “set an agenda for each region” and “develop” the country, she declared during an intervention before the foreign press.

“I will never tire of calling for dialogue, peace and unity,” she added, repeating almost word for word a sentence already pronounced on January 20 during a television intervention.

– Not “stay in power” –

“I have no intention of staying in power,” she said, saying she wanted to respect the Constitution and step down in elections that have been brought forward to 2024.

Demonstration against President Dina Boluarte, January 23, 2023 in Lima, Peru (AFP – ERNESTO BENAVIDES)

“Would my resignation resolve the crisis and the violence? Who would assume the presidency of the Republic?” she asked.

Visibly moved, Ms. Boluarte also asked for “pardon for the dead”, promising investigations by the prosecution to determine the perpetrators. She notably assured that demonstrators had been killed by “dum-dum” bullets, ammunition which is not used by the police.

Boluarte will speak to the Organization of American States (OAS) on Wednesday as the international community and human rights groups criticized the crackdown, citing “disproportionate” use of force by the police and the army, called upon to maintain order within the framework of the state of emergency.

Demonstration against President Dina Boluarte, January 23, 2023 in Lima, Peru (AFP - ERNESTO BENAVIDES)
Demonstration against President Dina Boluarte, January 23, 2023 in Lima, Peru (AFP – ERNESTO BENAVIDES)

“I will appear before the OAS to tell the truth. The Peruvian government and especially Dina Boluarte have nothing to hide. as a woman, mother and daughter, it hurts me. Tomorrow, in front of the OAS, we will tell the truth,” she said.

“We all want to know the truth,” she said.

The demonstrators tirelessly demand his resignation, the dissolution of Parliament and the creation of a Constituent Assembly.

– Attacks against Castillo –

The unrest began on December 7 after the dismissal and arrest of left-wing president Pedro Castillo, accused of having attempted a coup d’etat by wanting to dissolve the Parliament which was about to oust him from power.

Police fire tear gas at protesters on January 23, 2023 in Lima, Peru (AFP - ERNESTO BENAVIDES)
Police fire tear gas at protesters on January 23, 2023 in Lima, Peru (AFP – ERNESTO BENAVIDES)

Former vice-president of Mr. Castillo, with whom she was elected on the same ticket in 2021, Ms. Boluarte, stressed that she had Andean origins like him.

“It suited him to make this coup in order to victimize himself and move all this paramilitary apparatus and not answer to the prosecutor for the acts of corruption of which he is accused. There is no victim here, Mr. Castillo: there is a country that is bleeding because of your irresponsibility,” she said.

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

Authorities said 85 roads were blocked by roadblocks Tuesday in nine of Peru’s 25 regions.

In the Ica region (southwest), the police used tear gas to try to unblock several sections of the still closed Panamerican highway.

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