By Alejandra Garcia
January 19, 2023
Today protestors against Peru’s unelected president, Dina Boluarte, began flooding into Lima after a month and a half of social unrest that has left more than 50 dead, mainly at the hands of police forces. The demonstrators, mostly farmers from the south of the country, spent the night on some university campuses and intend to march to the center of the capital while the state agents are trying to encircle their perimeter.
The crisis began last December 7, when former president Pedro Castillo, now detained in a federal prison, tried to dissolve the Congress, after the continuous attempts of the ultra-right to overthrow his government.
On the day of its anniversary, Lima, the capital that often lives on the sidelines of what is happening in the rest of the country, received thousands of Peruvians demanding new elections and to be heard. It has been a long shot to get here, many protesters say.
The police have done everything to impede the advance of the march, called the Great March of the “Cuatro Suyos“, an allusion to the social mobilization that put an end to the reactionary Alberto Fujimori’s regime in the early 2000s. Local newspapers report that the police have reinforced their controls on the highways to block the passage of the demonstrators, who come mainly from the Peruvian highlands.
At the moment, 11,800 troops, more than 120 pickup trucks, and 49 military vehicles are deployed on the streets, and there are also armed forces teams patrolling the communities of the capital, according to the head of the Lima Police Region, General Victor Zanabria. “The police are on maximum alert,” he added.
These words frighten the Peruvian people, who have already mourned the deaths of 54 people and a reported thousands more injured by police brutality in the ongoing protests, which have been going on for over a month.
“Peru hurts, and the people are not going to stop until they put an end to the injustice. If there is no dialogue, there will be more violence,” Stuardo Ralón, vice-president of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, warned the local press.
The most recent death was reported in the Peruvian town of Macusani, in the southern region of Puno, where a 30-year-old man was seriously injured amid a demonstration against the country’s president, Dina Boluarte. The young man is just one in a long list of people killed, among them also a 51-year-old woman and a baby who died in the womb of his teenage mother, according to the Ombudsman’s Office.
Meanwhile, what does the government say? “My commitment is to Peru, not to that tiny group that is bleeding the country,” Boluarte has said, and that hurts it is a big lie; because this is not a tiny group but rather the overwhelming majority of Peruvians who oppose her in a determined way.
The eyes of the region and the world are on Peru. One image captures the attention of those of us in other latitudes trying to understand the pain of those fighting in the streets for justice and democracy: the photo of the burial of 17 protesters killed by security forces last week in Juliaca, in the southern region of Puno. The coffins were lined up on the public road, while dozens of protesters surround them. “We won’t forget them. We will be in Lima until justice is done,” protesters say.
-Source: Resumen Latinoamericano – US