LIMA ( Associated Press) – Peru’s desert capital on Thursday gathered thousands of people from remote parts of the Andes to protest against President Dina Boluarte and support his predecessor Pedro Castillo, whose ouster in December sparked deadly protests And political chaos spread in the country. The ombudsman’s office raised the death toll in the demonstrations to 55.
Thousands of demonstrators marched through the streets of Lima’s historic center in the afternoon, carrying placards that read “The government steals, the police kill and the press lies.” They reached the iconic Plaza San Martin, where protesters have traditionally gathered for decades, but police deployed hundreds of riot police, who surrounded the plaza and blocked entry.
The protesters then stopped in a nearby street and remained peaceful. Police began throwing tear gas canisters at the intersection of two roads leading to the National Parliament in the historic center. It also evicted protesters from a park adjacent to that protest area.
The number of victims in the demonstrations rose in the afternoon with an update of figures from the ombudsman’s office, which reported 55 and confirmed the death of one person in clashes with police in the Arequipa region in the south of the country.
The Ombudsman said in a message through his Twitter account that the death occurred on the Anshueko bridge. He added that 10 people were injured during the accident, who were transferred to Ciudad Municipal and Zamcacola health centers and the Peru Arabo health post.
Supporters of Castillo, the first president of rural origin in 200 years of the republic, hope the protests will open a new chapter in a mobilization that began more than a month ago demanding Boluaarte’s resignation and a structural change in the country. Castillo was removed after a failed attempt to dissolve Congress.
So far resistance has been recorded mainly in the southern Andes. Overall, 54 people have died in the riots, most of them in clashes with security forces.
By directing the protest to Lima, the protesters hope to reinvigorate the movement that began when Boluarte, then vice president, was sworn in to replace Castillo on December 7, a promise made exactly one year earlier. had said that she would resign if the president was fired. in charge.
“When tragedies, bloodsheds happen outside the capital, they don’t have the same political relevance on the public agenda as they do in the capital,” said Alonso Cárdenas, professor of public policy at Antonio Ruiz de Montoya University in Lima. ,
“The leaders have understood this and say ‘they can massacre us in Cusco, in Puno and nothing happens, we have to take the protest to Lima,'” he said, citing two cities that have been violently opposed. There is a view of the performance.
Peru is a highly centralized country and about a third of its 33 million inhabitants live in the metropolitan area of Lima.
“In my own country, the voice of the Andes, the voice of the majority, has been silenced,” said Florencia Fernandez, a lawyer who lives in Cusco. “We’ve got to travel to this offensive, to this central city, and we say ‘the Andes have descended'”.
Campesino Samuel Acero, president of the Cusco Regional Struggle Committee, told The Associated Press that people “now go out to fight, go out to demand their rightful rights,” as they walk through Lima’s historic center.
He said that in Cusco, “in the land of natural gas, we don’t have natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas costs us … On the other hand, here in Lima, in this desert, they bring us gas.”
Acero complained that Machu Picchu, the Valley of the Incas and other archaeological treasures are visited by tourists from all over the world but “the people who make money from tourism are the few who don’t even live in Cusco … millions of skilled Voters who get nothing from tourism to Cusco, which makes us very angry.
The concentration in Lima is also a reflection of the increase in anti-government mobilization that the capital has registered in recent days.
“Lima, which did not join the protests in the first phase in December, decided to join after the Juliaca massacre,” said Omar Coronel, professor of political science at Peru’s Catholic University, referring to the 18 people killed. That city on 9 January.
The protesters plan to march from the center of Lima to the Miraflores district, one of the most beautiful and symbolic neighborhoods of the country’s economic elite.
The government has asked the protesters to remain peaceful.
“We know they want to take Lima,” Boluarte said this week. “I call on you to take me to Lima, yes, but in peace,” he said, noting that he would wait for them “to be able to discuss the social agenda at the official residence”.
Paulina Consac, 56, carried a large Bible in her arms as she walked with a group of more than 2,000 people from Cusco who were marching peacefully in front of the Supreme Court in Lima’s historic center. “Our God says, ‘You shall not kill your neighbor.’ Dina Boluarte is killing, she’s fighting between brothers,” he said. He added, “My brothers need advice, they need support, they need water, they need God, so I Could come here.”
Boluaarte has said he supports the plan to move the presidential and legislative elections scheduled for 2026 to 2024. Many of the dissidents say that no possible dialogue with the government has, according to them, fueled so much violence.
While protesters gathered in Lima, new outbreaks of violence were reported in the south. A woman and a man were killed in clashes with police in the town of Macusani. The protesters set fire to the police station and the headquarters of the judiciary. In addition, a 30-year-old man admitted to the hospital with a gunshot wound to the chest died on Thursday, confirmed Associated Press doctor Ivan Fernandez.
Activists have baptized the performance as the “March of the Four Soyos”, in reference to the four cardinal points of the Inca Empire. It is the same name that received another massive mobilization in the year 2000 when thousands of Peruvians took to the streets to protest against the autocratic government of Alberto Fujimori, who resigned months later.
But there are many differences between those demonstrations and this week’s.
“In 2000, the people protested against a regime that was already consolidated in power,” Cárdenas explained. “In this case they are facing a government that has only been in power for a month and is incredibly fragile.”
Furthermore, the 2000 mobilization had a centralized leadership and was led by political parties. “What we have now is very fragmented,” Coronel said.
The last month’s protests have been largely a grassroots effort without clear leadership.
“There has never been a mobilization on such a scale. “There is already a common sense established in the peripheries that it is necessary, urgent, to change everything,” said Gustavo Montoya, a historian at the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos. “I have a feeling we are witnessing a historic change.”
The protests have escalated to the point that the protesters are unlikely to accept Boluaarte’s resignation. Now they are also calling for a structural reform in the face of a growing crisis of confidence of the ruling elite.
“Protests have emerged in areas that are systematically treated as second-class Peruvians,” Montoya said. “It looks to me like it’s going to grow.”
Analysts warned that failure to heed the demands could have tragic consequences. Cardenas said, “You have to start thinking about what you want to do with Peru, otherwise it could explode.”