February 2023

Protests Engulf Peru During Presidential Impeachment

Anthony Samaniego
Staff Writer

Thousands of rural Peruvians marched in Lima last week carrying signs that read “I’m not a terrorist” while waving indigenous Andean rainbow-checkered colored flags, according to The New York Times

Many protesters marching in Lima chanted “murderer” towards Dina Boularte and sang hymns expressing that they are not afraid anymore, The New York Times reports. Outside of Lima, reports state that at least 57 people have died during the unrest. Forty-six civilians have been reported dead after clashes with law enforcement officers. A third of the country’s population—roughly 33 million people—have taken part in daily marches in the capital. The marches started small and have grown each day.

Peru has been embroiled in protests following the removal of President Pedro Castillo from office in December, Foreign Policy reports. Castillo was impeached and removed from office after attempting to temporarily dissolve Congress. The move was denounced as an attempted coup by the Ombudsman of Peru, the Constitutional Court, and then Vice President Dina Boularte who took over as president following his removal. According to Foreign Policy, most analyses point toward inequality and discrimination against rural indigenous communities as the primary factors leading to the unrest. 

During the 2021 elections, many of the same historically ignored and marginalized indigenous communities supported Castillo’s campaign, which promised change with regards to the poor and rural. Castillo himself came from a humble background who lived amongst Andean communities who worked on the land and taught as a rural schoolteacher. Therefore, many of his supporters expected him to tackle the inequality that they lived under. However, corruption is another often-used factor to explain Peru’s ongoing political crisis since the downfall and long before Castillo’s presidency.

On January 21, Peruvian police raided San Marcos University in Lima, smashing down gates with an armored vehicle and firing tear gas. More than 200 people who had come to Lima to participate in the anti-government protests were detained,  reports. According to The Guardian, images show dozens of people who were lying face down on the ground at the university after the surprise police raid. Students at San Marcos claimed they were harassed by law enforcement officials while in their dormitories. Calls for the President Dina Boularte to step down continue to grow after the raid at the university. 

The six weeks of unrest has claimed the lives of 60 people, while at least 580 have been injured and more than 500 people have been arrested, according to The Guardian. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, part of the Organization of American States, issued a statement expressing, “concern over the police incursion, eviction and massive detentions” at the university according to . 

Due to the unrest, Peru shut down the historically and famed tourist site of the Machu Picchu ruins. According to CNN, protesters are demanding that President Dina Boularte resign, the closure of Peru’s congress, for general elections to take place as soon as possible and a new constitution. The protests started in the southern city of Ayacucho, known for its pre-Inca history and colonial churches. According to the Ombudsman’s office, in Ayacucho alone at least 10 people have died and more than 40 people are injured, CNN reports. Within a month’s time of assuming the presidency, Dina Boularte has a disapproval rating of 17 percent, while her approval rating stands at 19 percent and that of her accession to power at 27 percent, according to the.

Image courtesy of Mayimbu, Wikimedia Commons

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