Peruvian President Dina Boluarte announced on Monday a frontal fight against “narcoterrorism” at the burial of seven police officers killed in an area where drug traffickers operate in alliance with remnants of the Shining Path rebel group.
The officers were ambushed as they were traveling in a vehicle on Saturday through a town in the remote Andean region called VRAEM, Valley of the Apurímac, Ene and Mantaro rivers, according to the Interior Ministry, in the deadliest incident of its kind for police. in more than a decade.
“My government has ordered a frontal and determined fight against that alliance formed by terrorism and drug trafficking in the VRAEM and throughout the national territory. We will not allow more deaths, nor more violence, we want peace,” Boluarte said in a speech at the policemen’s funeral ceremony “In a sense, I fully support the Peruvian police and the armed forces as a whole to continue that task.”
In the VRAEM, a mountainous region the size of Puerto Rico, 75% of the South American country’s cocaine is produced and is the center of constant operations by the security forces against the Maoist remnants of Sendero Luminoso, who according to the police act as “bodyguards” for drug traffickers.
In the last two decades of the last century, Peru experienced a war between its Armed Forces and Shining Path that left 69,000 dead or missing, according to official figures. The country is, after Colombia, one of the world’s largest producers of coca leaf and cocaine, according to the United Nations.
The rebel attack occurred while Boluarte faces a wave of protests that have left 60 dead in two months, including a policeman. In the protests, which erupted after the ouster of former leftist president Pedro Castillo, protesters are calling for Boluarte’s resignation, the closure of Congress, early elections and a change to the Constitution.
President Boluarte affirmed at the ceremony, which was attended by relatives of the dead police officers, that her government will continue to work for the “well-being” of the population and expressed her rejection of “any act of violence that seeks to take away our lives, health, integrity and the right to peace”.