New Delhi: The police used tear gas in Peru’s capital Lima to try and control thousands of protesters who poured in on Thursday calling for the resignation of President Dina Boluarte, as reported by the news agency AP. Many of the protesters are from Andean regions. The protesters were angered by a rising death toll since unrest erupted in December and calling for a change.
The mass anti-government demonstrations first broke out in early December, after then-president Pedro Castillo was ousted from office for attempting to dissolve Congress and rule by decree, seeking to prevent an impeachment vote against him. The protesters are demanding the resignation of President Dina Boluarte and want former President Pedro Castillo to return to power. Pedro’s removal in December 2022, launched deadly unrest and led the nation into political chaos.
Police estimated the march at around 3,500 people, but many have speculated that the march attracted more than that, according to the news agency Reuters. The police faced the protesters on the streets, and one historic building in the city’s historic center caught fire late on Thursday, Reuters reported.
The demonstrators gathered in Lima’s historic downtown got into a tussle with security forces who were stopping them from reaching key government buildings, including Congress, AP reported.
According to AP, Besides Boluarte’s resignation, Castillo supporters also demanded the dissolution of Congress and immediate elections. Amid the protests, Boluarte said police had the protests under control and that those responsible for violence and vandalism would not go “unpunished”, as reported by The Guardian.
In a television address, she said that “this is not a peaceful march” and the “government is firm and its cabinet is more united than ever”. Boluarte claimed that the protests had “no social agenda” but rather sought to “break the rule of law, generate chaos and disorder and seize power”.
“To the Peruvian people, to those who want to work in peace and to those who generate acts of protest I say: I will not get tired of calling them to a good dialogue, to tell them that we work for the country,” she said, The Guardian reported. In the clashes on Thursday, one person died and about 10 others sustained injuries in clashes with police in the southern city of Arequipa, according to Peru’s ombudsman’s office, as reported by The Guardian.
Last week on Saturday, the Peru government declared a state of emergency in the capital Lima and three other regions. The move was made in response to the protests against Boluarte that resulted in at least 42 deaths in recent weeks.
According to a decree published in the official gazette, the measure, in force for 30 days, authorizes the army to intervene to maintain order and suspends several constitutional rights such as freedom of movement and assembly. Apart from the capital city, the state of emergency extends to the districts of Cusco and Puno, as well as the port of Callao, which is next to Lima.
More than 100 roadblocks blocked traffic across Peru on Saturday, mainly in the south, which has been the epicenter of the protests and around Lima, reported AFP.