In Episode 159 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg takes stock of the inspiring and terrifying situation in Peru—which is only escalating, with no resolution in sight. Since left-populist president Pedro Castillo was ousted in a "soft coup" last month, a mass movement has rapidly mobilized to demand that new president Dina Boluarte step down, that Congress be dissolved, and that a "constituent assembly" be called to draft a new constitution with the participation of popular organizations. Despite repression approaching genocidal levels, thousands of protesters from across Peru converged on the capital for a "Taking of Lima"—which only brought street-fighting to the center of national power, when the gathering was charged by the riot police. It is a case of "bad facts" for the popular movement that the crisis was sparked by Castillo's attempt to seize autocratic power in an auto-golpe in response to relentless efforts to remove him by the reactionary fujimorista bloc in Congress. But this does not alter the basic right and wrong of the struggle in Peru, which is fundamentally that of campesinos, indigenous peoples and common folk fighting for their elementary rights and even very survival, against the corrupt political class fighting to preserve its privileged position and ill-gotten gains. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.
Turkey's pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) on Jan. 16 asked the Turkish Constitutional Court to postpone its decision on a government request to ban the party until after the upcoming general elections, planned for June. Co-leader of the HDP, Mithat Sancar, told reporters: "The Constitutional Court should stop all proceedings on this case. The authorities want to use this case against the HDP as a tool to threaten us." President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government accuses the HDP of having ties to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which is banned in Turkey. The HDP won 12% of the vote in the 2018 general election and holds 56 of parliament's 579 seats. (Kurdistan24)
The UK government on Jan. 16 introduced amendments to the pending Public Order Bill to change the definition of "serious disruption," broadening the range of situations in which police in England and Wales may act to stop protests. Police will not need to wait for disruption to take place to shut down protests under the proposed measures. The amendments would also create a new criminal offense for interfering with "key national infrastructure." The amendments are clearly aimed at activist groups such as Extinction Rebellion, Just Stop Oil and Insulate Britain.
The independent Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) on Jan. 16 released statistics finding that 522 protestors, including 70 children and youths, have been killed in Iran since the start of the national uprising in September. Authorities have arrested 19,400 people, including 168 children and youths. Of those detained, 110 are "under impending threat" of a death sentence. Four protestors have already been executed. Human Rights Watch additionally reported that authorities have fired assault rifles on protestors, and have subjected those in detention to torture, mistreatment and sexual abuse. (Jurist)
Residents of Jesús María barrio in Culiacán, capital of Mexico's Sinaloa state, marched on the governor's palace Jan. 9 demanding action on the whereabouts of 140 community members they say have been missing since violence engulfed the city after the arrest of a top cartel kingpin four days earlier. The youngest of the missing residents is said to be 12 years old. Protesters also denounced abuses by the military troops that have been patrolling Culiacán since the outburst, including illegal detentions and home searches. (Aztec Reports, La Verdad, Juárez)
Thousands have filled the streets of cities and towns across Peru since the ousting and detention of president Pedro Castillo on Dec. 7. Protesters have occupied the airport in the southern city of Arequipa, while mass mobilizations and road blockades continue to be held in Cuzco and Trujillo. Protests turned violent in Andahuaylas province, where a National Police station was overrun in the town of Chincheros on Dec. 12. At least seven are dead in the protests by official figures—six in Andahuaylas, and five under age 18.
Facing a third round of impeachment (or "vacancy") proceedings, Peru's president Pedro Castillo on Dec. 7 ordered the dissolution of Congress and announced imposition of a "government of exception" in which he would rule by decree. But his government immediately collapsed as protesters, many armed with clubs, filled the streets of Lima. Most of his cabinet resigned, with foreign minister César Landa tweeting: "I strongly condemn this coup d'état and call on the international community to assist in the re-establishment of democracy in Peru." The National Police and Armed Forces Joint Command together issued a statement saying they would not enforce any "acts contrary to constitutional order."
Supporters are warning that Italian anarchist militant Alfredo Cospito is in danger of dying in prison after more than a month on hunger strike. Cospito, being held at Bancali prison in Sassari, Sardinia, began his hunger strike Oct. 20 to protest the inhumane conditions he faces under Article 41-bis of the Italian legal code, with harsh restrictions on his mobility and communication with loved ones, and no prospects for a review of his life sentence. The European Court of Human Rights in 2019 ruled that Article 41-bis, designed for terrorist and Mafia-related cases, violates the European Convention on Human Rights.