Thousands of police officers were deployed in the capital, Lima, and violent clashes erupted in the southern city of Arequipa on Thursday as hundreds of protesters marched into downtown areas across Peru. .
Anger, initially sparked by the country’s political instability, only grows as the death toll rises. At least 53 people have been killed in riots and another 772 injured in Peruvian protests since protests began in December, the National Ombudsman’s Office said Thursday.
Smoke was seen billowing from the fields around Arequipa’s international airport, which halted flights on Thursday as some people tried to tear down the fence, according to live footage from the city. He yelled “Assassin” at the advancing police and threw stones.
The country saw its worst violence in decades as protesters against the current government called for political change after the ouster of former president Pedro Castillo in December.
Protesters marching in Lima on Thursday demanded the resignation of President Dina Volarte and called for general elections to be held as soon as possible, but also defied a state of emergency imposed by the government on Sunday.
General Victor Sanabria, head of the national police for the Lima region of Peru, told local media that 11,800 police officers were stationed in Lima, and that important offices such as the parliament, the public prosecutor’s office, select television stations, the Supreme Court and the military headquarters were to be deployed. Said it was deployed in place. extra protection.
Authorities have been accused in recent weeks of using excessive force against protesters, including firearms. projectile wounds were found, the city’s forensic officer told CNN en Español.
A fact-finding mission to Peru by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) found gunshot wounds to the head and upper body of the victim, the commission’s vice-chairman Edgar Stuardo Ralón said Wednesday. .
Police deny any disproportionate use of force, saying their tactics are consistent with international standards.
Larón also described the “worsening public debate” over the demonstrations in Peru, where protesters were called “terrorists” and indigenous peoples were referred to in derogatory terms, and he and other experts It warned that it could create a “more violent atmosphere”.
“When the media uses it, when the political elite uses it, you mean the police and other security forces are more likely to use this kind of repression, right?” Pope of Peru, Specializing in Latin American Protests Omar Coronel, a professor at the National Catholic University, told CNN.
IACHR’s Laron said an inquiry into Peru “needed to focus on human rights and race ethnicity as clashes occurred in the southern region and among the casualties were both dead and injured.” Stated. Quechua and Aymara.
Peruvian authorities have not released details about those killed in the riots. But experts say indigenous protesters have suffered the most bloodshed.
“The vast majority of victims are indigenous peoples living in rural Peru,” Jomaly Bart, senior fellow in the Washington Office for Latin America, told CNN.
“Protests have been concentrated in indigenous areas of central and southern Peru, historically marginalized and excluded from the country’s political, economic and social life. It is an area that has been
Protesters want new elections, Boluarte’s resignation, constitutional changes and the release of Castillo, who is currently in pretrial detention.
At the heart of the crisis is the demand for better living conditions, which has remained unfulfilled in the two decades since democratic rule was restored to the country.
Peru’s economy has boomed over the past decade, but experts say the country is chronically lacking in security, justice, education and other basic services, and has benefited. Many countries have not.
Castillo, a former teacher who had never held an elected office before becoming president, hails from rural Peru and positions himself as a man of the nation. Many of his supporters came from poorer areas and hoped that Castillo would bring better prospects to the country’s rural areas and indigenous peoples.
Protests are taking place across the country, but the worst violence has taken place in the rural and indigenous South, long at odds with the mestizo, a coastal white and mixed-race elite.
Peru’s legislative bodies are also viewed with skepticism by the public. According to Peruvian law, the president and members of the House of Representatives are not allowed to serve consecutive terms, and critics point to their lack of political experience.
A poll released by the IEP in September 2022 showed that 84% of Peruvians disapprove of the parliamentary performance. Members of parliament are not only pursuing their own interests in parliament, they are also viewed as engaging in corrupt practices.
The country’s frustration is reflected in years of revolving door presidency. The current president, Bolarte, is his sixth head of state in less than five years.