Peru: the troubles continue to obtain the departure of the president

Sometimes violent, the demonstrations against President Dina Boluarte, which have killed 45 people since December, continued on Friday in Lima as in the rest of Peru the day after a large rally in the capital.

Violent clashes resembling battle scenes took place in Arequipa, the country’s second city.

Protesters threw stones and lit fires around the Anashuayco Bridge in an attempt to advance towards the airport, which is still closed for the time being.

The security forces – police and army – responded with tear gas canisters, according to an AFP photographer.

Clashes also took place in the Puno region (south), where protesters set fire to a police station in Zepita (after the police left) and a customs post in Desaguadero, on the border with Bolivia, reported local television.

Clashes also took place in the department of La Libertad in the north of the country.

Thursday evening, the authorities had extended the state of emergency already in force in Lima, Cuzco, Callao and Puno, to the Amazon (east), Tacna (south) and La Libertad (north).

In Lima, thousands of demonstrators marched with slogans similar to the day before: “Dina murder!”, “This democracy is not a democracy, Dina, the people repudiate you!”

Dressed in a white straw hat and a pink skirt, Olga Mamani, 50, assures: “We want Dina’s resignation. If she does not resign, the people will not be at peace”. She carries on her shoulders the flag of Yunguyo (southeast), a small town on Lake Titicaca and the Bolivian border.

fter walking away, shots of acronym, a woman wipes her eyes in front of a graffiti “All power to the people” (AFP – ERNESTO BENAVIDES)

Farmer cultivating potatoes and tubers, Antonio Huaman, 45, weathered face, from Andahuaylas, epicenter of the demonstrations in December, swears that he will not give up: “We want the resignation of Dina and the dissolution of the congress”

“We will stay here until the final consequences. We are Chanca warriors (Apurimac ethnic group)”, he says, chewing coca leaves which he carries in a small plastic bag: “The leaf gives us the strength to continue the fight”.

The bulk of the demonstrators dispersed around 8 p.m.

Police charge in Lima on January 20, 2023 (AFP - ERNESTO BENAVIDES)
Police charge in Lima on January 20, 2023 (AFP – ERNESTO BENAVIDES)

Clashes – stone throwing and tear gas firing – occurred in the late afternoon and evening.

Although the violence was on a smaller scale than the day before, groups continued to fight it out, burning trash cans and throwing projectiles in the city center around 9 p.m.

A protester uses a slingshot against law enforcement on Friday night in Lima (AFP - ERNESTO BENAVIDES)
A protester uses a slingshot against law enforcement on Friday night in Lima (AFP – ERNESTO BENAVIDES)

Several people were arrested, noted AFP journalists.

The demonstrations organized Thursday in Lima by residents of the Andes left 38 injured, including police officers, according to the Ministry of the Interior.

“The struggle will continue in all regions until the resignation of Boluarte and until the satisfaction of the other demands: elections this year and a referendum for a Constituent Assembly”, declared to AFP Geronimo Lopez, secretary General of the General Confederation of Workers of Peru (CGTP).

Unrest in Peru has claimed 45 lives since December 7. They broke out 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.

Thursday evening President Dina Boluarte once again called for calm on television.

“To the Peruvian people, to those who want to work in peace (…) and to those who protest: I will never tire of calling them to good dialogue, telling them that the country needs solutions for water, health, education, agriculture, livestock, more bridges, more roads…”

But she also threatened those “who generate the acts of violence”, promising “firmness”.

– Tourists stranded –

Cuzco airport, the country’s tourist capital, reopened at midday but the train to the famous site of Machu Picchu is still suspended.

At least 300 foreign and local tourists are stranded in the area, the train being the only way to get to the Inca jewel. In December, tourists were also stranded on the site before being evacuated.

“We don’t know if a train will pick us up. All the tourists here are queuing up to register” to evacuate us, Chilean tourist Alem Lopez told AFP.

The crisis is also a reflection of the huge rift between the capital and the impoverished provinces that supported President Castillo, of Native American descent, and saw his election as revenge for what they see as Lima’s contempt.

Elected on the same presidential ticket in 2021, Ms. Boluarte, vice-president of Mr. Castillo, succeeded him in accordance with the Constitution. The demonstrators see her as a “traitor”.

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