Peru’s presidential palace and the congressional building in Lima were protected by bars and riot police on Monday two days before a march that again demands the resignation of President Dina Boluarte and legislators, in what is expected to be the resumption of opposition protests that shook the country at the beginning of the year and that they left 67 dead and 1,900 wounded.
Lima’s main square, located in front of the presidential palace, was also isolated and barricaded amid the hassle of merchants, foreign tourists, and passers-by who had to circle it to reach banks, chocolate shops, cafes, and other historical sites.
A protest with up to 4,000 demonstrators is scheduled for Wednesday, according to police estimates, to show the citizens’ discontent with the government and to demand justice for the civilians killed in the mobilizations from December to February, when President Boluarte replaced Pedro Castillo after his removal by Congress.
With an unpopularity that exceeds 80% in the case of the president and 90% for the legislators, according to a study of citizen opinion at the national level by the CPI firm published on Monday, Boluarte called for the unity of the Peruvians before the call of a dozen social organizations, including unions and student federations.
“We need to love each other and find each other… and we don’t need those messages that separate us,” he pronounced on Monday in a closed-door ceremony inside a convention center. He quoted passages from the bible and said “love one another”.
But his Minister of the Interior, Vicente Romero, was direct and indicated on public television that they had “identified all the leaders” of the protest and will hold them responsible if “they set fire to the prairie again, to burn public and private entities.”
In addition, the police announced that on Wednesday, the day of the protest, they will send 8,000 agents to the streets of the capital to control public order.
At the northern and southern entrances to the capital, agents have been checking the identity documents of bus passengers arriving in Lima from the Andes since last week, after groups of protesters from various regions indicated that they were traveling to the capital. to protest. The government also extended by 30 days the suspension of constitutional rights on key roads in Peru, including the right to free assembly, to avoid potential roadblocks.
“The president has not fulfilled a broad demand throughout 2023 to call general elections after Castillo left power,” he explained to Associated Press Omar Coronel, professor of Social Sciences at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru. The teacher added that the violent repression against those who protested has added a second layer of protesters against violation of rights human exercised. “That has grown a very large opposition,” she said.
The protests against Boluarte began on December 7 of last year when she assumed power after the dismissal of Pedro Castillo, who tried to dissolve Parliament to avoid a vote against him and ended up accused and in pretrial detention for the alleged crime of rebellion.
More than two months of demonstrations, mainly in the Andes but also in the capital, left 49 civilians dead in clashes with security forces and 11 more in traffic accidents or roadblocks related to the protest, as well as seven deaths in uniforms.
The United Nations and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights as well as various non-governmental organizations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International expressed concern about the excessive use of force by security forces. The autopsies determined that 30 of the nearly fifty civilian victims died from firearm projectiles.
The Boluarte government accused drug trafficking, illegal mining and contraband at the beginning of the year of being the financiers of the anti-government protests, but to date it has not shown any evidence. The president is being investigated by the Prosecutor’s Office, together with several members of her cabinet, for the deaths in the demonstrations.
Faced with citizen requests for her to resign, the president said in June that she will not resign and govern until 2026. Although several initiatives to advance the electoral process, including those of the ruling party, were rejected by Congress.
The new call to demonstrate, the duration of which has not been announced by the protest organizers, seeks to put pressure on the current authorities to leave.
Two Spanish tourists Gumer González and Raquel Martínez were looking at Lima’s main square from behind bars and told the AP they were surprised to find it fenced off. “There are few places in the world where I have seen very important squares that are fenced off,” said González.
In an old 16th-century house on a corner across from the government palace, Tomy Ríos, manager of a museum-store dedicated to exploring and displaying various varieties of chocolates, said with his almost empty shop that before, up to 4,000 tourists came a day. Now, they only number 500, he said. “Basically it is a shame that these authorities believe that the public highway belongs to them and they put up bars,” he said.