thousands of demonstrators converge on Lima despite the state of emergency
Since Monday, demonstrators have been defying the state of emergency and converging on Peru’s capital, Lima, to demand the resignation of President Dina Boluarte.
Thousands of protesters still converged on Tuesday January 17 towards the Peruvian capital Lima, where they plan to gather en masse this week to demand the resignation of President Dina Boluarte and new elections.
“We are going to the capital to make our voice of protest heard,” Jimmy Mamani, an indigenous Aymara chief from the Puno region, told AFP. The mayor of the village of San Isidro wants to believe that this march will be of the ilk of the demonstrations of July 2000 against the former autocrat Alberto Fujimori.
Since Monday, hundreds of peasants like him have swallowed the 1,350 kilometers that separate them from the capital to organize a “peaceful” demonstration.
More than 40 people killed
Overnight, dozens of protesters marched to San Martin Square, the historic epicenter of social movements in Lima. Since the protests began five weeks ago, at least 42 people have died in clashes between protesters and police, according to the Peruvian Ombudsman’s office.
At the heart of the demands: the resignation of Dina Boluarte, who replaced the deposed ex-president Pedro Castillo, the immediate holding of elections and the convening of a Constituent Assembly. Many, like Jimmy Mamani, believe that the government is “turning a deaf ear” after seeing all these requests rejected.
The situation has still not calmed down since the dismissal on December 7 of Pedro Castillo, whom Parliament accuses of an attempted coup. The former president had notably tried to dissolve Congress and govern by decree. Facts qualified as rebellion for which he is still detained.
In the south of the country, where Pedro Castillo has many supporters, some 200 residents of Andahuaylas were blocked by the police on their way to the capital.
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“Make That Woman Go Away”
“We will go to Lima, no matter how. On foot if necessary (…) Dina Boluarte said she did not want to see us, so she will hear us,” Anastasia told AFP. Lipe Quispe, 63 years old and whose five sons are farmers.
From Cusco, dozens of others left by bus for Lima. A journey of at least fifteen hours to cover around 1,100 kilometres.
All aim to “make this woman (Boluarte) leave”, said one of these demonstrators who requested anonymity.
In the region of La Libertad (north), residents blocked the road linking this region to the capital with tires, as in several other localities in Peru.
In Puno, it is the Ilave bridge, which connects Peru to Bolivia, which is occupied by dozens of protesters. One of the inhabitants of the city, Richard Acero, denounced to AFP the “confiscation of economic power by this small group which does not represent us”.
In order to curb these popular movements, the executive decreed, on Sunday, a state of emergency for 30 days in Lima, Cusco, Callao and Puno, allowing the army to intervene to maintain order. Demonstrators have been defying this measure since Monday, which also authorizes the restriction of several fundamental rights, such as that of protesting.
Defense Minister Jorge Chavez warned that everything necessary would be done to “avoid a situation of violence”, although the government also said that the right to demonstrate would be respected.
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