Peruvian President Dina Boloart called for dialogue after clashes between demonstrators and police during nationwide demonstrations left one dead and 30 injured.
“Once again, I call for dialogue, I call on these political leaders to calm down. To take a more honest and objective look at the country;
Her comments followed clashes in the streets of the capital, Lima, where thousands of protesters from across the country faced a massive show of force by local police.
Demonstrators marching in Lima—in defiance of the state of emergency ordered by the government—demanded Poulwart’s resignation and called for general elections as soon as possible.
Peruvian state television showed a group of demonstrators breaking through a security cordon and advancing to Abancay Avenue near Congress. In the video, demonstrators are seen throwing objects and pushing security men.
Police forces were seen firing tear gas at some demonstrators in the city centre.
Violent clashes also broke out in the southern city of Arequipa, where demonstrators chanted “murderers” at the police and threw stones near the city’s international airport, which suspended flights on Thursday. Live footage from the city showed several people trying to tear down fences near the airport, and smoke billowing from surrounding fields.
Boloart said 22 members of the Peruvian National Police and 16 civilians were injured and damage was reported at airports in Cusco and Puno as well as in Arequipa.
The Interior Ministry stated that a large fire was reported in downtown Lima, where ten units of firefighters were on the scene to put out the flames.
“All law will lie with those people who commit these criminal acts of vandalism, and we will not allow that again,” Bollwart said.
It also expressed its solidarity with the journalists who were attacked.
“This is not a peaceful protest march, and the violence that arose during these days in December and now in January will not go unpunished,” said Bulwart.
Public officials and some of the press have dismissed the protests as driven by vandals and criminals — a criticism that many protesters interviewed with CNN en Espanol rejected as they gathered in Lima this week.
Even if “the state says we are criminals, terrorists, we are not,” protester Daniel Mamani said.
“We are workers, the common people every working day, the state oppresses us, they all need to get out, they are useless.”
At the moment, the political situation deserves a change of representatives, government, executive and legislative branches. This is the immediate thing. Because there are other issues that are deeper – inflation, lack of jobs, poverty, malnutrition and other historical issues that haven’t been addressed,” another protester named Carlos, a sociologist from San Marcos University, told CNNEE on Wednesday.
The Andean nation’s weeks-long protest movement – which seeks a complete reset of government – broke out after the ouster of former President Pedro Castillo in December, fueled by deep discontent with living conditions and inequality in the country.
Protesters’ anger has also grown as the death toll has risen: At least 54 people have been killed amid clashes with security forces since the unrest began, and another 772 people have been injured, including security officials, the office of the National Ombudsman said earlier Thursday. .
Peruvian authorities have been accused of using excessive force against protesters, including firearms, in recent weeks. The police responded that their tactics conformed to international standards.
Autopsy 17 civilians were killedwho was killed during protests in the city of Juliaca on January 9, and was found with projectile wounds, the head of the city’s forensic department told CNN en Español. Police said a police officer was burned to death by “unknown persons” days later.
What happened in Juliaca in early January represented “the highest number of civilian deaths in the country since Peru’s return to democracy” in 2000, Jo Marie Burt, a senior fellow in the Washington bureau for Latin America, told CNN.
A fact-finding mission to Peru by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) also found that gunshot wounds were found on the victims’ heads and upper bodies, said Edgar Stuardo Ralon, vice president of the commission.
Ralon described the “deterioration of public debate” more broadly about the demonstrations in Peru, with demonstrators being called “terrorists” and indigenous people being referred to in derogatory terms.
He warned that such language could generate “a climate of further violence”.
“When the press uses it, when the political elite uses it, I mean, it’s easier for the police and other security forces to use that kind of repression, right?” Omar Coronel, a professor at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru who specializes in protest movements in Latin America, told CNN.
Peruvian officials have not released details of those killed in the unrest. However, experts say indigenous protesters suffer the greatest bloodshed.
“The majority of the victims are indigenous people from rural Peru,” Burt said.
“The protests have been concentrated in central and southern Peru, densely populated areas of the country, areas that have historically been marginalized and excluded from the political, economic and social life of the nation.”
The protesters want new elections, Boulwart’s resignation, a change in the constitution and the release of Castillo, who is currently in pre-trial detention.
At the heart of the crisis are demands to improve living conditions that have not been achieved in the past two decades since the restoration of democratic rule in the country.
While Peru’s economy has boomed in the past decade, not many have reaped the rewards, with experts pointing to chronic shortcomings in the country’s security, justice, education and other basic services.
Castillo, a former teacher and union leader who had never held elected office before becoming president, is from rural Peru and has styled himself as a man of the people. Many of his supporters hailed from poor areas, and hoped that Castillo would bring better prospects for the country’s rural and indigenous people.
While the protests took place across the country, the worst violence was in the rural and indigenous areas of the south, which have long been at odds with the country’s white elites and coastal mestizo, a person of mixed ancestry.
The public also views Peru’s legislature with skepticism. A president and members of Congress are not allowed consecutive terms, per Peruvian law, and critics have noted their lack of political experience.
A poll published in September 2022 by the IEP showed that 84% of Peruvians disapprove of the Congress’s performance. Lawmakers are not only seen as pursuing their own interests in Congress, but also associated with corrupt practices.
The country’s frustrations were reflected in her years-long revolving-door presidency. The current President Bulwart is the sixth head of state in less than five years.
Joel Hernandez Garcia, commissioner of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, told CNN that what is needed to fix the crisis is political dialogue, police reform and compensation for those killed in the protests.
Police forces must reconsider their protocol. In order to resort to non-lethal force under the principles of legality, necessity, proportionality and as a matter of last resort,” said Hernandez García.
He added, “It is the duty of police officers to protect people who are participating in social protests, but also (to protect) others who are not participating.”