“I want to know where my brother is”, said Domitila Quispe on Sunday in front of the Directorate against Terrorism (Dircote) in Lima: this is one of the 193 people arrested at San Marcos University where many protesters who came from the Andes slept to demonstrate against Peruvian President Dina Boluarte.
The families have been without news since Saturday’s police operation at the university. Law enforcement then stormed the campus, ramming the gate with an armored vehicle.
After laying dozens of demonstrators on the ground and carrying out searches, they left with 193 people.
Sunday morning, around thirty relatives wait in front of the Dircote, guarded by dozens of riot police. Two police officers have on two loose sheets a list of detainees that can be consulted.
The families prepared a chicken broth, brought bread, biscuits, water but also rolls of toilet paper, hoping that we can give them to the detainees.
“I haven’t slept. I want to know where my brother is” Silverio, repeats Domitila Quispe, 47, who came with her brother from the Huancavelica region, in the poor Andean south, to participate in the demonstrations which left 46 dead since December.
“He sent me a Whatsapp to say that he was arrested but (now) his mobile phone is off. I want to know if he is eating or not”, she worries before specifying: “He is came to take part in the peaceful demonstration”.
– “in secret” –
The demonstrators demand the resignation of President Dina Boluarte, the dissolution of Parliament and the constitution of a Constituent Assembly.
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 in order to dissolve the Parliament which was about to oust him from power.
“We want our friends to be released immediately,” protests Hector Apaza, dressed in black as a sign of mourning for the dead.
“We came to Lima to enforce our rights. I am fighting for my brothers from Juliaca, Azangaro, Ayaviri (south) who are detained. The police won’t let us in to find out,” he adds.
Apaza, a 51-year-old farmer, arrived with other villagers from San Roman de Puno province, on the Bolivian border, on Wednesday to take part in the big rally in the capital.
He too slept at university but escaped Saturday’s roundup: “Thank the Lord I am safe and sound.”
“We came to be listened to and not to be insulted,” protests Bianett Monroy, 35, pointing out that the authorities regularly call them “terrorists” or “vandals”.
Came with her husband from Juliaca, where twenty people died during the unrest, she is worried about the fate of a friend, Rosa Condori, 32 years old.
“We are concerned. We don’t know anything. She is incommunicado,” she said.
Representatives of the Human Rights Coordinating Committee arrived on site to visit the detainees on Sunday morning, while the day before representatives of the prosecution were present at the university to verify the legality of the procedure.
“Unconstitutional repression” headlined the newspaper La Republica.
Originally from San Francisco, near Ayacucho, Julia Quispe, 73, who also slept in college and escaped arrest, “demands the release of the three comrades”.
Determined, she launches: “We came together and we will not leave until they are released”.