The crisis in Peru is getting worse


Protesters in Lima and the rest of Peru continue to demand the resignation of interim President Dina Boluarte. Several demonstrators were killed on Saturday, January 21, bringing the total to 56 dead and several hundred injured since the movement began in mid-December. In the capital, several hundred demonstrators protested against the intervention of the police, especially in the town.

With our correspondent in Lima Juliette Chaignon

Images are spreading on social networks. An armored car of the National Police passes through Gate 3 of the University of San Marcos, the capital of Peru.

Dozens of police officers, wearing helmets and shields, enter the campus.

For three days, students occupied the buildings. They collected food donations there and allowed demonstrators from the center and south of the country to sleep there against the advice of the university.

A few minutes after entering, the police ordered the demonstrators to lie down on their stomachs. And shut up. In the press release, the management of the enterprise justifies the intervention in the context of the emergency.

More than 200 students and demonstrators are still being held by the police. Some in anti-terrorist services. On Saturday evening in Lima, demonstrators therefore held a protest in front of the prefecture to demand their release.

The National Committee for the Protection of Human Rights condemns arbitrariness and abuse of power by law enforcement agencies “. The organization also regrets the detention of the police without access to a lawyer.

People arrested by police at the San Marcos University campus in Lima on January 21, 2023. AFP – JUAN MANDAMIENTO

“This is another world”

The country specifically shut down Machu Picchu, an Inca citadel in the Andes. Four hundred and eighteen tourists stranded there will be returned to their homeland. Tourism is an important part of Peru’s income. More than a hundred roads in the country are still closed.

Peru was the fourth destination in Latin America so far. Peru’s tourist arrivals allowed this country to finance a significant part of its imports with foreign currency. Given that Peru is currently experiencing a very serious food crisis, one would expect the repercussions to be dramatic as Peru’s tourism companies, particularly the highly export-oriented hotel sector, are at risk of bankruptcy. Peru was in the process of developing new tourist sites near all of Cuzco and Machu Picchu, which allowed international tourist arrivals to diversify and therefore spread throughout the country, and this site is today called into question by these dramatic events, it concludes. François Vellas, World Tourism Organization expert.

Professor Francois Vellas, expert of the World Tourism Organization

The interim president still refuses to recognize the legitimacy of the protests. Dina Boluarte denounces the demands that are only related to the return of former president Pedro Castillo and will not have any social significance. However, the image of the former head of state is closely related to the issue of race and the difference between urban and rural areas.

Pedro Castillo, he certainly had a small percentage of the vote in the presidential election, at the beginning he still represented a few million people, so these people identified with someone. The region where it was, for example Cajamarca, we no longer speak Quechua because Quechua was completely driven out during the conquest. The Quechua language is spoken in the south of Peru, Quechua and Aymara, where social movements are strongest, Cuzco, Puno, Arequipa. If this population does not reach the capital, there is a feeling of not having a voice. In essence, Pedro Castillo represents people who live without electricity or water. It’s another world. On the other hand, there is the traditional Spanish Creole group, which denies this identity and these social sufferings. This is a social war, in fact, being waged.

Isabelle Tauzin, professor at the University of Bordeaux Montaigne and expert on Peru

The population especially fears a return to the type of military regime the country has known in the past.

The current president was previously the vice president. With the constitution, he became the president. The potential successor of the current vice president is the president of the Congress. His name is Jose Williams Zapata, he’s a retired general, he was involved in a massacre in the 1980s, the Accomarca massacre. So he really represents the power of the armed repression of the 1980s at the head of Congress. Personally, I think that what can happen is that once Dina Boluarte has carried out this repression, and what people fear in the place of my interlocutors, Peruvian scientists, is that an armed regime is gradually established. What the demonstrators want is an acceptable electoral calendar, not the postponement of elections to 2024 as proposed by Dina Boluarte.

Isabelle Tauzin, Bordeaux Montaigne

â–ºRead again: Peru at a standstill: demonstrations continue, political stalemate

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