By Gustavo A Maranges
February 14, 2023
It has been just two months since Dina Boluarte took over Peru’s presidency after a coup d’état very well designed by the conservative elite and executed by the Congress and the military. Since then, 64 people have been killed during social protests across the country. That is, almost one death a day, which is a chilling statistic that shows how people reject this administration and how serious the current crisis is.
According to the Peruvian Ombudsman’s Office, some 47 of those killed are civilians, and 50 have been shot dead, mostly by the army and the police. Meanwhile, hundreds have been wounded, several of them minors, as well as 59 journalists to date.
Based on these facts and additional evidence, the Argentinean NGO International Human Rights Solidarity Mission stated they will accuse Boluarte of crimes against humanity. The organization claims that 19 collaborators have collected testimonial and graphic evidence proving that several demonstrators were extrajudicially killed, among them 6 out of 10 people assassinated at the Ayacucho airport.
After Pedro Castillo was ousted, the streets flooded with demonstrators demanding Boluarte’s resignation, Congress dissolution, and a Constituent Assembly to replace the current 1993 Constitution passed by Alberto Fujimori’s dictatorship. It seems like more than fair demands from a people tired of being ignored by the elite and exhausted by the effects of health, economic and political crisis that have led to 6 presidents in 5 years. However, it is unacceptable for an oligarchy willing to do anything to stay in power.
Since the beginning of the protests, the coup government has extended the state of emergency several times, arguing these are not peaceful protests but covert actions of criminal groups and drug traffickers. But lies have no legs, and just two days ago, Foreign Affairs Minister Ana Celina Gervasi told the New York Times the government has no evidence to back up these statements.
This is a clear case of the criminalization of social protest for political purposes. Of course, all necessary evidence will be created and found to delegitimize people’s demands, although the Peruvian government’s impudence is astonishing. Sadly, this is nothing new, it rather is a very archaic method of the Latin America right wing that destroys and divides societies. Probably, Colombia is the best example of how disastrous these practices are and how much it is costing to repair the damage caused.
Despite this, Boluarte’s government allocated US$25 million more to “guarantee order” on Lima’s streets. Many would think that 64 deaths are more than enough to rethink the strategy, but they ignore that spreading terror and violence as methods to control people’s unrest is the strategy itself. Just the same style as last decade’s Latin America dictatorships.
Even though their state terrorism strategy does not seem to be yielding the expected results. The increase in military violence has only plunged the country into an endless spiral of hatred. What began as political protests have turned into a massive social protest joined not only by Castillo’s supporters but also by unions and social movements that, beyond sympathizing or not with the ousted president, pursue the same objectives; to reduce the almost absolute control of the elite over the state.
As a result of it, today, almost all the country’s primary roads are blocked. Even in some regions, local authorities have had to negotiate with the demonstrators to supply some areas with basic products. Meanwhile the southern part of the country, the main copper mining area, has reduced production by almost 30%, and in the agricultural sector, the losses exceed US$300 million.
Amid this scenario, some local and regional authorities have come out in favor of the protesters and criticized the central government’s poor crisis management. This is not political support for the protesters at all. However, it is the first symptom of how strong the popular pressure is and the cracks that it is creating in the governmental structures of Peru.
Possible solutions to the crisis
So far, the only way to ease tensions proposed by the government is to hold early elections. It is acceptable to the right-wing since it does not imply profound modifications and keeps the status quo. However, the date must be approved by Congress, where there is currently a great deal of debate. While the conservative sectors are desperately looking for a date to ease tensions on the streets, another group led by Pedro Castillo’s party Peru Libre is looking for a solution closer to people’s demands of early elections and a new Constitution.
The debate on the date and conditions of the next elections will extend until February 17. If nothing is agreed upon, it is practically impossible to hold elections in 2023, which would only eternalize or deepen the current crisis.
It is clear to all that a national dialogue with all actors is the best solution. However, the government and its supporters are not willing to give in to a single one of the protesters’ demands and have once again bet on violence and state terrorism to remain in power.
-Source: Resumen Latinoamericano – US