Peru: first death in 'Taking of Lima'
The first death was reported Jan. 28 in the national protest mobilization on Peru's capital, dubbed the "Taking of Lima." Victor Santisteban Yacsavilca, 55, was struck in the head with a tear-gas cannister, bringing the death toll since the national uprising began last month to 58. Earlier that day, Peru's Congress voted down a proposal by embattled President Dina Boluarte to bring forward elections to December 2023. On Dec. 20, Congress did approve a compromise measure calling for moving the elections forward from April 2026 to April 2024, but this is subject to a second plenary vote before becoming law. Protesters continue to demand immediate new elections, and the calling of a constituent assembly to draft a new constitution. (Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera, InfoBae, El Pais, Gestión)
Podcast: Peru at the precipice
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.
'Genocidal' massacre of protesters in Peru
The prosecutor general's office in Peru, the Fiscalía, on Jan. 10 opened a preliminary investigation into President Dina Boluarte and five of her current and former cabinet members for possible acts of "genocide" in the repression of the mass protests sparked by the ouster of president Pedro Castillo last month. Prosecutor general Patricia Benavides announced that, in addition to Boluarte, her investigation will target Prime Minister Alberto Otárola, Interior Minister Víctor Rojas, and Defense Minister Jorge Chávez. It will also target ex-prime minister Pedro Angulo and ex-interior minister César Cervantes, who lost their positions in a cabinet shake-up amid the unrest. (DW, El Comercio; TRT World)
'Indefinite' general strike declared in Peru
After a pause for the holidays, protests over the ouster of president Pedro Castillo remobilized in Peru Jan. 4. Roadblocks and barricades have halted traffic on major arteries through the southern regions of Arequipa, Apurímac, Puno and Cuzco, while in the city of Cuzco public transportation and the markets have all been shut down. The new protests have been strongest in the south of the country. A year-end summit of Defense Fronts of the Southern Macro-Region was held in the city of Arequipa, where a call was issued for an "indefinite" nationwide general strike.
Campesino leaders targeted in Peru repression
Amid ongoing protests over the removal from power of president Pedro Castillo, Peru's Anti-Terrorist Directorate (DIRCOTE) on Dec. 17 raided the Lima offices of the country's main union of peasants and rural workers. Dozens on the premises were held there and interrogated, without access to legal counsel, for 16 hours. Rural leaders from across the country were gathered at the national headquarters of the Campesino Confederation of Peru (CCP) at the time of the raid to discuss coordination of protest actions. (Wayka, Via Campesia, El Buho) In the days immediately before and after the raid, government offices were burned by protesters in Arequipa, in Huancavelica, and in Ayacucho. (Jurist)
'Law of Genocide' introduced in Peru
In the midst of the political crisis gripping Peru, reactionary elements in the country's Congress have launched an initiative to repeal the 2006 law establishing reserves to protect isolated indigenous peoples in the Amazon rainforest. AIDESEP, Peru's trans-Amazonian indigenous alliance, is calling Law Project 3518/2022-CR the "Law of PIACI Genocide"—a reference to the Spanish acronym for Indigenous Peoples in Isolation or Initial Contact. The AIDESEP statement also charges that the congressional Commission on Decentralization & Regionalization submitted the bill on Dec. 14 without first seeking clearance from the Commission on Andean & Amazonian Peoples, which holds first authority in the matter.
Peru: state of emergency declared amid mass protests
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.
Peru: thwarted auto-golpe or successful coup?
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."
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