An anti-government protesters who traveled to the capital from across the country to march against Peruvian President Dina Boluarte, is detained and thrown on the back of police vehicle during clashes in Lima, Peru, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023.
The concentration of protesters in Lima reflects how the capital has started to see more anti-government demonstrations in recent days
Thousands of people poured into Peru’s capital, many from remote Andean regions, for a protest Thursday against President Dina Boluarte and in support of her predecessor, whose ouster last month launched deadly unrest and cast the nation into political chaos.
Police repeatedly fired tear gas into crowds of demonstrators as night fell Thursday, preventing them from heading into business and residential districts of Lima. The supporters of former President Pedro Castillo were demanding Boluarte’s resignation, the dissolution of Congress, and immediate elections. Castillo, Peru’s first leader from a rural Andean background, was impeached after a failed attempt to dissolve Congress.
“We have delinquent ministers, presidents that murder and we live like animals in the middle of so much wealth that they steal from us every day,” said Samuel Acero, a farmer who heads the regional protest committee for the Andean city of Cusco. “We want Dina Boluarte to leave, she lied to us.”
Anger at Boluarte was the common thread as street sellers hawked T-shirts saying, “Out, Dina Boluarte,” “Dina murderer, Peru repudiates you” and a call for “New elections, let them all leave.”
“Our God says thou shalt not kill your neighbor. Dina Boluarte is killing, she’s making brothers fight,” Paulina Consac said as she carried a large Bible while marching in downtown Lima with more than 2,000 protesters from Cusco.
By early afternoon, protesters had turned key roads into large pedestrian areas in downtown Lima.
The protests have so far been held mainly in Peru’s southern Andes, with 54 people dying amid the unrest, the large majority killed in clashes with security forces.
“We’re at a breaking point between dictatorship and democracy,” said Pedro Mamani, a student at the National University of San Marcos. Students there are housing demonstrators who traveled for the protest that is being popularly referred to as the “takeover of Lima.”
The university was surrounded by police officers, who also deployed at key points of Lima’s historic downtown district.
Some 11,800 police officers were being sent out, Victor Zanabria, the head of the Lima police force told local media. He played down the size of the protests, saying he expected around 2,000 people to participate.
There were protests elsewhere and video posted on social media showed a group of demonstrators trying to storm the airport in southern Arequipa, Peru’s second city. They were blocked by police but the airport paused operations.
The demonstrations that erupted last month and subsequent clashes with security forces were the worst political violence in more than two decades and has highlighted the deep divisions between the urban elite largely concentrated in Lima and poor rural areas.
By bringing the protest to Lima, demonstrators hope to give fresh weight to the movement that began when Boluarte was sworn into office on Dec. 7 to replace Castillo.
RELATED: Peru’s new president declares state of emergency in the south, proposes early elections
At least two people are dead and 30 injured following clashes between protesters and law enforcement across the country
The new president of Peru, Dina Boluarte, on Monday took steps to end the crisis stemming from Pedro Castillo’s failed self-coup last Wednesday, which ended with his arrest a few hours later.
Protests have been taking place since then across the country, with at least two people dead and 30 more injured, according to local media. Boluarte has declared a state of emergency in the south, where the deaths were reported, and said she will propose moving up general elections to April 2024 instead of serving out the full remaining three and a half years of her predecessor’s term.
Boluarte, 60, was forced to suggest a date for early elections due to the pressure on the streets. In downtown Lima, Castillo followers have been camping out daily and say they will not move until there is a new call for elections. They wear T-shirts that read: “Shut Down Corrupt Congress! Freedom for Pedro Castillo.” Every night they attempt to surround the legislative palace, and the police hold them back with tear gas.
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By: Miss Cherry May Timbol – Independent Reporter