2022–2023 Peruvian protests

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2022–2023 Peruvian political protests
Part of the 2017–present Peruvian political crisis
Top to bottom, left to right:
Protesters in Lima draped with Peruvian flags and waving Wiphalas on 12 December, demonstrations in Huancayo on 9 December, protests outside where Castillo was detained at la Prefectura
Date7 December 2022 – present (2022-12-07 – present)
(1 month, 3 weeks and 1 day)
Location
Caused byImpeachment and arrest of Pedro Castillo after the self-coup attempt
Goals
MethodsProtests, blockades, demonstrations, civil disobedience, civil resistance, strike action, riots
StatusOngoing
Parties to the civil conflict

Anti-government protestors

List

Supported by:

Lead figures

Decentralized leadership (various social leaders)

Number
Casualties
Death(s)60 civilians[18]
1 officer[19]
Injuries600+[20][21]
Arrested378[22]

Since December 2022, supporters of the ousted president of Peru, Pedro Castillo,[23][24][25] have engaged in a series of political protests against the government of Dina Boluarte and the Congress of Peru. The demonstrations were organized by social organizations and indigenous peoples who felt they experienced political disenfranchisement, specifically on the politically left-wing to far left.[26][27][28][29] The protests have no defined leadership and were instead organized by grassroots movements.[30] Castillo was ousted after his dismissal by Congress and arrest for having announced the dissolution of Congress, the intervention of the state apparatus and the establishment of an "emergency government", which has been characterized as a self-coup attempt. Among the main demands of the demonstrators is the dissolution of Congress, the resignation of the current president Dina Boluarte, new general elections, the release of Castillo and the installation of a constituent assembly.[27][31] It was also reported that some of the protesters have declared themselves in an insurgency.[32][33][34]

Right-wing groups and the Boluarte government have opposed the protests and have used the terruqueo to label certain demonstrators as terrorists, which dates back to the internal conflict in Peru.[35] The use of the terruqueo to label protesters as terrorists has provided impunity to authorities, increasing the risk of violence.[35][36] The Boluarte government announced a national state of emergency on 14 December, removing some constitutional protections from citizens, including the rights preventing troops from staying within private homes and buildings, the freedom of movement, the freedom of assembly, and "personal freedom and security" for 30 days.[37][38] The response of the Boluarte government and Peruvian authorities was criticized by human rights non-governmental organizations,[39][40] with two massacres occurring; the Ayacucho massacre and Juliaca massacre. The government's inclusion of the Peruvian Armed Forces in responding to the protests was also criticized due to the history of troops killing protesters with impunity.[20] The politicization of the armed forces also raised concerns of a developing civilian-military government in Peru.[41][42]

Multiple ministers have resigned from Boluarte's cabinet throughout the series of protests following acts of violence perpetrated by authorities.[43][44] Attorney General of Peru Patricia Benavides announced investigations on 10 January 2023 for the alleged crimes of genocide, aggravated homicide and serious injuries against President Dina Boluarte, Prime Minister Alberto Otárola, Minister of the Interior Víctor Rojas and Minister of Defense Jorge Chávez.[45]

Background[edit]

Conflicts between Congress and the presidency[edit]

Presidents Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, Martín Vizcarra and Pedro Castillo (left to right) were impeached and targeted for removal by the opposing Congress

During the presidencies of Ollanta Humala, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski and Martín Vizcarra, the right-wing Congress led by the daughter of the former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori, Keiko Fujimori, obstructed many of the presidents' actions.[46][47][48] The political legacy of the Fujimori family was assumed by Keiko after her father Alberto, who instituted Plan Verde and oversaw the Grupo Colina death squad during the internal conflict in Peru, was sentenced to prison for human rights abuses.[49][50][48][51] According to Walter Albán, head of Transparency International Peru, Congress has been infiltrated by criminal groups that obstruct reforms to maintain their status and parliamentary immunity,[52] while Human Rights Watch said that Congress was more focused on personal gain and vote trading instead of issues facing the nation.[46]

President Humala would go on to serve a weak presidency due to the obstructionist practices of Congress.[47] After losing the 2016 presidential election to Kuczynski, Keiko Fujimori led her party Popular Force in the unicameral Congress, with the right-wing legislators obstructing efforts by President Kuczynski.[48] After experiencing obstruction by Congress and various scandals, President Kuczynski resigned from the presidency.[53] Martín Vizcarra, Kuczynski's first vice president, then assumed office in March 2018. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic in Peru, President Vizcarra was impeached in September 2020 though not removed, later being controversially removed from office a month later. Thousands of citizens then protested against Vizcarra's impeachment.[54]

President of Congress, Manuel Merino, faced criticism regarding how he hastily pushed for impeachment proceedings against Vizcarra, especially since he would assume the presidency upon Vizcarra's removal.[55] Renowned reporter Gustavo Gorriti reported on 12 September 2020 that Merino had contacted the Commanding General of the Peruvian Navy, Fernando Cerdán, notifying him that he was going to attempt to impeach Vizcarra and was seeking to assume the presidency.[56] Minister of Defense Jorge Chávez confirmed that Merino had tried to establish support with the military.[56] President Merino would resign after five days due to mass disapproval.[57]

Francisco Sagasti was made President of Congress on 16 November and thus succeeded Merino as president on 17 November per the presidential line of succession, since both vice presidential positions were vacated by Vizcarra in 2018 and Mercedes Aráoz in May 2020.[58][59]

Castillo presidency[edit]

The election will be flipped, dear friends.

Keiko Fujimori[60]

Sagasti served as president until Castillo was elected in the 2021 general election, with Keiko Fujimori losing her third consecutive presidential bid. The 2021 election saw many right-wing candidates, with business groups, political parties and the majority of media organizations in Peru collaborating with Fujimori's campaign by appealing to fear when discussing political opponents.[61][62][63] Some broadcast television channels openly supported Fujimori's candidacy as well.[63] Reuters wrote that El Comercio, one of the largest media organizations in South America, "has generally backed Fujimori".[64] According to then-professor of Public Policy Gonzalo Banda of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, although Castillo was accused of being linked to communist terrorism, "in places where terrorism caused the most bloodshed, Castillo won by a lot."[65] In contrast, Fujimori received support from Lima's elite, evangelical Christians, businesses, media organizations, and the armed forces.[66]

Keiko Fujimori and Rafael López Aliaga, who opposed Castillo and supported the Madrid Charter

Multiple attempts to prevent Castillo from the entering the office of the presidency or to later remove him occurred, beginning shortly after election results were determined. Following reports of Castillo's apparent victory, Fujimori and her supporters made claims of electoral fraud, leading obstructionist efforts to overturn the election with support of citizens in Lima.[67][68][60][69][70][71] Many business groups and politicians refused to recognize Castillo's ascent to the presidency,[72] with those among the more affluent, including former military officers and wealthy families, demanded new elections, promoted calls for a military coup, and used rhetoric to support their allegations of fraud.[68] Far-right groups of former soldiers also allied with political parties like Go on Country – Social Integration Party, Popular Force, and Popular Renewal in an effort to remove Castillo, with some veteran leaders seen directly with Rafael López Aliaga and Castillo's former presidential challenger Keiko Fujimori, who signed the Madrid Charter promoted by the Spanish far-right political party Vox.[73] These groups directed threats towards Castillo government officials and journalists, whilst also calling for a coup d'état and insurgency.[73]

During Castillo's presidency, Congress was dominated by right-wing parties opposed to him,[74] with legislators attempting to impeach multiple times using political avenues. Due to broadly interpreted impeachment wording in the Constitution of Peru (1993), Congress can impeach the president on the vague grounds of "moral incapacity",[75] effectively making the legislature more powerful than the executive branch.[76][77][78][79] In February 2022, it was reported that Fujimorists and politicians close to Fujimori organized a meeting at the Casa Andina hotel in Lima with the assistance of the German liberal organization Friedrich Naumann Foundation, with those present including President of Congress Maricarmen Alva, at which plans to remove Castillo from office were discussed.[80] Alva had already shared her readiness to assume the presidency if Castillo were to be vacated from the position and a leaked Telegram group chat of the board of directors of Congress that she heads revealed plans coordinated to oust Castillo.[81][82]

By December 2022, Congress had begun motions to attempt the impeachment of Castillo for a third time; he was involved with six different criminal investigations and had already named five separate cabinets to serve under him.[83]

Castillo's self-coup attempt[edit]

Document of the CCFFAA and PNP rejecting the actions of Castillo

Before 7 December 2022, a march called "Toma de Lima" or "Taking of Lima" was called, originally a meeting in Plaza Bolognesi with the aim of closing the congress and expressing their support for Pedro Castillo.[84][85] This march was organized by the National Assembly of the Peoples,[86] an organization affiliated with the officials, whose meeting in November of that year was televised.[87][88] The Agrarian and Rural Front of Peru confirmed their collaboration in the scheduled march.[89]

On 7 December 2022, Congress was expected to file a motion of censure against Castillo, accusing him of "permanent moral incapacity".[90] Before the legislative body could gather to file its motion, Castillo announced the dissolution of Congress and enacted an immediate curfew.[90][91] Moments after Castillo's speech, multiple ministers resigned from his government, including Prime Minister Betssy Chávez.[92] The Constitutional Court released a statement: "No one owes obedience to a usurping government and Mr. Pedro Castillo has made an ineffective coup d'état. The Armed Forces are empowered to restore the constitutional order."[93] The Armed Forces also issued a statement rejecting Castillo's actions and calling for the maintenance of stability in Peru.[94] Rejecting Castillo's actions to dissolve the legislative body, Congress gathered and voted to remove Castillo from office due to "moral incapacity" with 101 votes in favor, 6 against and 10 abstentions.[95] It was announced that First Vice President Dina Boluarte, who rejected Castillo's actions, would take her oath of office for the presidency at 3:00 pm PET.[95] Castillo's vice president Dina Boluarte entered the Legislative Palace shortly after 3:00 pm PET and appeared before Congress, where she was later sworn in as president of Peru.[96]

For Castillo's supporters,[24][89][97] the congress made a coup against the president. In addition, they considered Dina Boluarte a "traitor", "dictator" and "usurper" after her subsequent assumption as the new president of the republic,[27][97][98] based on the promise of the then vice president: "If the president is vacated I will go with the president".[99] In this way, supporters of the former president encouraged the prompt release of Castillo and an advance of elections.[31] The demonstrators agreed to the dissolution of the Congress of the Republic, a new constitution through a constituent assembly, the rejection of the then vice president Dina Boluarte and the support for the then president Pedro Castillo, whose objectives were achieved with the populist measures dictated by the then president in his message to the Nation on 7 December.[84]

Mobilizations of leftist organizations related to Castillo were evidenced in Lima, Ayacucho, Cusco, Ica, Arequipa, Trujillo, Chiclayo, Huancavelica,[100][101] Huancayo, Tacna,[102] Jaén,[103] Moquegua,[104] Ilo,[105] Puno,[106][107][108][109] and Chota, where Castillo grew up.[110]

Timeline[edit]

December 2022[edit]

Protests begin[edit]

Police and protesters clashing on 8 December

Lima is one of the cities that were summoned. After the message to the nation, it was denounced that the Minister of the Interior, Willy Huerta, ordered the doors of the congress to be opened, which were closed, so that the summoned protesters could storm the congress.[111] However, due to the failure of Castillo's self-coup attempt and the subsequent vacancy by the Congress of the Republic, the demonstrations increased.[97] On 7 December, between one and two hundred people gathered in the "Toma de Lima" in the Plaza San Martín and surroundings.[26][112] The RPP outlet considered the pro-government meeting as the largest since Castillo came to power.[113] Panic buying was registered by the population fearing an escalation of events.[86] Some of the first demonstrations also occurred in Cuzco,[114] Arequipa[98] and in Puno.[115]

The head of the National Directorate of Intelligence (DINI), General Wilson Barrantes Mendoza, met with President Boluarte upon her request on 8 December 2022.[30] The DINI chief would explain to President Boluarte that protests would worsen due to the broad range of requests, including Bolaurte's resignation, the dissolution of Congress, a constituent assembly and immediate general elections.[30] General Barrantes then explained that there was no organized leadership, presenting information from the National Intelligence Council (COIN) and the National Intelligence System (SINA) that there were 16 independent regional groups promoting protests, that political parties and leaders were not organizing the movement and that organizations linked to the Shining Path or the Movement for Amnesty and Fundamental Rights (MOVADEF) were not involved.[30] The general would later state in an interview with La Republica that "To say that there is a 'terrorist inurgency' is stupid", criticizing the Boluarte government for using such rhetoric and for accusing foreign entities of being involved in the protests.[30] The Boluarte government later replaced General Barrantes with Colonel Juan Carlos Liendo O'Connor, a former National Intelligence Service (SIN) agent who worked under Vladimiro Montesinos who described the protests as a "terrorist insurrection" while on Willax Televisión a day prior to his appointment.[30][116]

The protesters lack leadership and comprise independent groups.[25] Of the many groups that supported protests, MOVADEF encouraged citizens to demonstrate.[117] Rondas campesinas, armed peasant patrols that formerly defended communities from the leftist Shining Path guerilla group, also joined the protests.[17] The Confederación General de Trabajadores del Perú (CGTP), the largest union in Peru, also called for the resignations of the executive and Congress.[118] In Arequipa, they received support from labor unions such as the Arequipa Departmental Federation of Workers, the Civil Construction Union,[119] and the National Front of Transporters and Drivers of Peru.[120][121] They also had support of the president of the Unified Defense Front against the contamination of the Coata basin and Lake Titicaca.[122] The regional SUTEP, which ignored Boluarte's election and declared a permanent mobilization, also supported.[33]

There were violent confrontations between community members and residents of Andahuaylas against police officers on 10 December. With 3,000 people participating, during the afternoon, the protesters took 2 policemen hostage and requested a "prisoner exchange". In light of this, a division of special forces from Abancay of the PNP moved to Andahuaylas and arrived in a small plane.[123][124][125] Hours after the kidnappings, the demonstrators released the police officers and numerous social organizations from the department of Apurimac declared themselves in a "popular insurgency" and will begin a regional strike starting Monday, 12 December.[126][127][128] Clashes erupted in the city between protestors and police in the city; two protestors, aged 15 and 18, were killed by police shooting from a helicopter, while four more were injured, one of whom critically.[129][130][131][132][133]

President Boluarte responded to dissent by removing 26 regional prefects nominated by Castillo from their positions.[134] On 13 December, the United States Ambassador to Peru, Lisa D. Kenna, travels to the Government Palace to meet with President Boluarte.[135]

Ayacucho massacre[edit]

Demonstrations at Plaza Manco Capac following the Ayacucho massacre

The Boluarte government announced a national state of emergency on 14 December, removing some constitutional protections from citizens, including the rights preventing troops from staying within private homes and buildings, the freedom of movement, the freedom of assembly, and "personal freedom and security" for 30 days.[37][38] The Boluarte government also decreed a curfew for fifteen provinces in eight different regions of Peru on 15 December, in regions including Arequipa, La Libertad, Ica, Apurímac, Cusco, Puno, and Huancavelica.[40]

video icon Peruvian Army firing live ammunition at protesters in Ayacucho

During protests in Ayacucho, demonstrators approached the Coronel FAP Alfredo Mendívil Duarte Airport, with the Peruvian Armed Forces closing the airport in response, with clashes occurring shortly after.[136] Human rights groups reported that members of the Peruvian Army were seen shooting at civilians protesting in Ayacucho.[137] Casualties were sent for treatment at the Huamanga Network and in the Ayacucho Regional Hospital,[136] with 90% of injuries resulting from gunshot wounds according to the Ayacucho regional health system.[138] The response by authorities caused the collapse of hospital systems in the city, with protesters suffering from gunshot wounds being treated in makeshift triage units.[139] The Ayacucho Regional Health Directorate reported that 8 were killed and 52 were injured.[138][140]

Former president Castillo is sentenced to 18 months of pretrial detention.[135] While imprisoned, Castillo states that the United States is responsible for the violence in Peru, stating "The visit of the US ambassador to the Government Palace was not free, nor was it in favor of the country. It was to give the order to take the troops to the streets and massacre my defenseless people; and, by the way, leave the way free for mining operations, ... The Peruvian press will not only keep quiet about this, but will deny it so easily."[135]

A day after the massacre, Congress rejected the proposal of advancing the 2026 elections to an earlier date; 49 were in favor, 33 against and 25 abstained, with 87 required for the proposal to pass.[141] On 16 December, Education Minister Patricia Correa and Culture Minister Jair Perez both resigned over the loss of life caused by the protests.[141]

Defense Minister named Prime Minister[edit]

President Boluarte shuffles her first cabinet, placing her former Minister of Defense Alberto Otárola as the new prime minister, while also replacing the Minister of Interior and Minister of Defense.[142] Boluarte's new Minister of Education, Óscar Becerra, was reported to have a history of being an Fujimorist.[143] Protesters continued activities in the regions of Amazonía, Apurímac, Arequipa, Ayacucho, Cusco, La Libertad, Lambayeque, Piura and Puno.[144] In Amazonía, indigenous leaders release a statement stating "We alert the Army, we alert the National Police of Peru not to upset us because we are in our territory, we will see each other there, there we will surely declare war, because they are already provoking us and creating us discomfort".[144]

On 24 December, Prime Minister Otárola stated that the Boluarte government was seeking to make Congress bicameral again[145] while Minister of Justice and Human Rights of Peru, José Tello, announced that reparations would be organized by a commission and distributed to individuals who were killed during the protests.[146]

January 2023[edit]

Great March for Peace[edit]

Heading into the new year, the Peruvian National Police (PNP) called for citizens to participate in a "Great March for Peace" on 3 January 2023 in the town squares of cities throughout Peru.[147] Internal PNP documents revealed that the march was organized for the political purpose to increase support for the Boluarte government, raising concerns about the police breaching the constitutional separation of authorities and political acts in Articles 34 and 169 of the constitution.[148][149][150] In the documents, PNP officials said that officers not participating in the march would face sanctions.[148] When asked about the PNP march by reporters, President Boluarte denied having knowledge of the event, though she had earlier promoted the march during a trip to Cusco days earlier.[149] Concerns regarding the goals of the march and the potential creation of a civilian-military government resulted with Minister of the Interior, Víctor Rojas, cancelling the planned march.[148][41][149]

Juliaca massacre[edit]

In Juliaca, Puno, authorities shot a photojournalist of EFE in the leg,[151] destroyed a motor taxi,[152] and attacked an adolescent and their mother on 7 January.[153]

Protesters from multiple districts of Puno joined demonstrations in Juliaca on 9 January.[154] Protesters approached Inca Manco Cápac International Airport around noon and demonstrated nearby, though when some began to enter the airport at 5:20pm, authorities responded to the demonstration with deadly force.[155][154] In total, 17 civilians were killed and over 100 others were injured,[156][154] with all deaths attributed to gunshot wounds.[157] Journalists covering the massacre were sought to be identified by police intelligence units.[154] After the killing of protesters by the police, looting in Juliaca began into the night, with some authorities seen participating in thefts.[158][159][160] The head of the Puno Traffic Safety Police was found with stolen televisions and other goods from a looted store.[160] A total of 40 people were arrested for looting on 10 January.[160] Into the next morning, two officers were detained by unknown individuals; one of the officers reported that about 350 people had captured them and that his partner had disappeared.[158] It was later discovered that his partner was burned alive in his patrol car and had died.[158]

Attorney General of Peru Patricia Benavides announced investigations on 10 January for the alleged crimes of genocide, aggravated homicide and serious injuries against President Dina Boluarte, Prime Minister Alberto Otárola, Minister of the Interior Víctor Rojas and Minister of Defense Jorge Chávez.[45]

Toma de Lima[edit]

Protesters from various regions began to congregate in the capital city of Lima on 12 January, with thousands beginning to demonstrate throughout the area in preparation for the Toma de Lima or "Taking of Lima" protests.[118][161] Caravans of protesters traveled began to travel to Lima and local individuals and shops provided supplies for their journey.[118] The Sole National Central of Peasant Rounds of Peru said that 2,000 ronderos would travel to Lima to participate in demonstrations.[162] On 13 January, the ministers of interior, labor and women resigned from their positions in the Boluarte government.[44] A 30-day state of emergency is declared on 15 January due to the protests.[118] On 17 January, President Boluarte responded to calls for the Toma de Lima protests, stating "I call them to take Lima but in peace and calm. I am waiting for you at the House of Government to talk about your social agendas, because you know that the political agenda you propose is unfeasible".[118] CGTP, Peru's largest union, called for a national strike on 19 January.[118] Tens of thousands of citizens would arrive in Lima for the protest.[16] During the response by authorities, there were reports that police played "The dance of the Chinese" on speakers, a campaign song used to support Alberto Fujimori during the 2000 Peruvian general election.[163] On the night of the 19th, a local historical building next to San Martín Plaza caught fire, collapsing before dawn on the following day.[164][165]

Government response[edit]

The government of Boluarte responded to the protests with force, with the Peruvian police and armed forces criticized for their aggression.[40][134][166][167] Between 20 and 27 December, the Peruvian National Police purchased 31,615 tear gas canisters and grenades from Condor Chemical Industry and the Army Weapons and Ammunition Factory (FAME) for $661,530 USD.[168] President Boluarte initially stated that she and Congress agreed to move the next general election from 2026 to April 2024,[169] though she later agreed with the December 2023 election date proposed by Castillo after she previously described such a move as illegal.[39] A state of emergency[37] and curfews[40] were also used by the Boluarte government to prevent further unrest.

Congress initially rejected early elections,[141] though it allowed the consideration of elections occurring earlier for April 2024 on 21 December 2022; the proposal still needs to be approved by the legislative body in February 2023.[170]

State violence towards protesters[edit]

Deaths and injuries[edit]

Deaths during protests
Region Deaths[168]
Bandera Región Apurimac.svg Apurímac 6
Bandera de Arequipa.svg Arequipa 4
Flag of Ayacucho.svg Ayacucho 10
Flag of Cusco (2021).svg Cuzco 4
Flag of Huancavelica.svg Huancavelica 1
Flag of Junin.svg Junín 3
Bandera de La Libertad Peru.svg La Libertad 5
Flag of Puno.svg Puno 23
Bandera Región San Martín.svg San Martín 1
Total 57

The Armed Forces of Peru has a history of impunity, being responsible for at least 167 deaths between 2003 and 2020 while those responsible did not face consequences in nearly all events.[20] According to attorney Mar Pérez of the Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos (CNDDHH), "Assassinations in protests are not a new event in Peru. ... The most serious situations have occurred when the Army intervenes. The impunity rate in these murders is close to 100%"[20] As of 23 January 20, at least 60 civilians were killed and more than 600 injured during the protests according to the Peruvian government.[18][40][171][21][20] Most of those killed died by being shot by the police and the military, with some individuals killed being bystanders.[172] Among the dead, two minors were killed during the protests in Apurímac as the result of Peruvian troops firing at protesters from a helicopter.[40] The Juliaca massacre on 9 January with the Peruvian army killing eighteen civilians during the event resulted in the most deaths in a single day.

Attacks on journalists[edit]

The National Association of Journalists indicated that 21 journalists were victims of aggression between 7 and 11 December.[173] Journalists interviewed by Wayka reported that authorities would frequently attack press workers and would attempt to prevent photographers from capturing images of individuals being detained.[174] Similar incidents of authorities preventing journalists from documenting the protests were collected by OjoPúblico.[172] One photojournalist for the EFE, Aldair Mejía reported that he was threatened by police during a protest in Juliaca, saying that an officer told him "I'll blow off your head and you get out of here dead"; Mejía was later shot in the leg by police while covering protests.[151]

Human rights violations[edit]

Democracy is very much on the line in Peru. The protesters’ demand for new elections is, ultimately, democratic. But repression and denial are likely to breed more anger and despair, playing into the hands of would-be autocrats across the political spectrum.

Human Rights Watch[46]

Strong protests occurred in indigenous and Quechua majority regions, the center of Castillo's support, raising comparisons between Boluarte's actions and that of previous anti-Native governments of Peru.[175] The United Nations Human Rights Council said that it was "deeply concerned about the possibility of an escalation of violence".[134] Undercover operations by police in plain clothes arresting demonstrators has been recorded, with Jan Jarab, representative of UN Human Rights in South America, previously condemning such actions in Peru, stating "It has been possible to identify cases of arrests made by police officers dressed as civilians without identifying themselves as such. The Peruvian authorities must put an end to this type of procedure, incompatible with international human rights standards".[174]

Edgar Stuardo Ralón, Vice President of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), stated during a delegation visit to Peru that individuals living in Lima participated in "widespread stigmatization" that is linked to "the historical and structural inequalities that exist in the country, those linked to the historical discrimination faced by indigenous peoples, the peasant population and the provinces", with such stigmatization resulting with increased political polarization and violence.[36] Ralón also stated that the use of the terruqueo by the government and authorities created "an environment of permissy and tolerance towards discrimination, stigmatization and institutional violence".[36] According to La República, President of the Supreme Court of Peru, Javier Arévalo Vela, disagreed that human rights violations occurred in Peru when holding talks with Ralón, stating "in Peru there is no policy of human rights violations, but rather here it exists, at the moment, it is a situation of violence that has two aspects: the just claims of the population and the acts of vandalism that you have seen. ... we have to separate the straw from the wheat. This is the reality of the Judiciary".[176]

Excessive force[edit]

Human Rights Watch (HRW) stated "Excessive use of force by state agents is a persistent problem in Peru. Rules for use of force by security forces do not comply with international standards", reporting that Congress had removed proportionality guidelines regarding use of force, making it easier for authorities to use excessive force with impunity.[177] HRW would later criticize President Boluarte's violent response to protests, lack of providing accountability to authorities and her effort to blame protest violence on Bolivia without providing evidence.[46] According to OjoPúblico, "A series of images, testimonies, police manuals and necropsies analyzed by OjoPúblico expose serious human rights violations during police and military repression actions, mainly in the southern regions of the country."[172]

According to Legislative Decree 1186 of August 2015, the Peruvian National Police are responsible for the use of force against protesters, are prohibited from shooting at short range and are only to fire at the lower extremities.[172] However, the armed forces were included in responding to protests following the announcement of a national emergency, according to OjoPúblico.[172] OjoPúblico also wrote that authorities have fired projectiles out of helicopters above protesters despite human rights groups condemning the practice.[172]

The Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos (CNDDHH) condemned the violent response of the Boluarte government and Peruvian authorities, stating "Although some protests have been recording violent actions and attacks on journalists and the media, senior officials of the Dina Boluarte Government have been endorsing a response from the police forces that is clearly outside the national and international regulatory framework".[39] The human rights group reported that authorities had beaten detainees while in custody; used less-lethal weapons improperly, which injured civilians; prevented legal representatives from meeting with those arrested; and held some in custody for longer than what legal standards permit.[177] The CNDDHH reported the Peruvian authorities were recorded firing tear gas canisters directly at protesters, resulting in one serious injury in Lima, and the incidence of police and armed forces firing live ammunition towards demonstrators.[39] Reports of arbitrary arrest and detention were also shared by the CNDDHH, with the group sharing that individuals going to and from work were arrested and isolated.[178] On 15 December, the CNDDHH denounced the use of "weapons of war" against protestors, with the NGO sharing a video of authorities using automatic firearms against demonstrators.[40] The CNDDHH would later demand in mid-January that President Boluarte resign.[179]

video icon Authorities shooting a protester in the head with a tear gas canister

Amnesty International's Americas head Erika Guevara-Rosas called for governmental restraint, saying: "State repression against protesters is only deepening the crisis in Peru. The authorities must put an end to the excessive use of force against demonstrations and guarantee the right to peaceful protest, using the legal and proportional means necessary to restore citizen security."[166][167] Amnesty International also confirmed that Peruvian authorities were firing tear gas canisters at close range directly at the bodies of protesters.[167]

Intrusions[edit]

OjoPúblico documented that authorities have entered the homes of citizens in order to gain access to roofs and fire at protesters.[172] The home intrusions resulted with possessions being destroyed by authorities.[172]

Following the Toma de Lima protests, the PNP raided the National University of San Marcos with armored personnel carriers and dozens of officer, detaining over 200 protesters located on the campus.[180][181] The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights condemned the PNP's actions, saying they were "incompatible with the principles of international law".[180]

Torture[edit]

According to testimony from a detained protesters interviewed by OjoPúblico, a group of protesters detained for three days by authorities were prohibited from having food and were beaten.[172]

Reactions[edit]

Domestic[edit]

Central government and politicians[edit]

  • President Dina Boluarte, who had replaced Castillo after his impeachment, responded in a conference "to the social organizations to the movements that are now mobilizing in the streets, let's talk and seek a peaceful solution to this situation."[182]
  • Free Peru congresswoman Kelly Portalatino encouraged successor President Boluarte to "listen to your Apurímac region and to all regions of the country, let's not allow more injuries, no more convulsion in the country."[183] PL called for protests in Lima[184] and tabled a motion of no-confidence against President of Congress José Williams.[185]
  • The New Peru political party joined in the plans to call demonstrations demanding new elections and a new constitution.[186]
  • Ethnocacerists and their leader Antauro Humala at first called Boluarte "president" during pro-Castillo protests. Later Humala called her "de facto president" and called for protests.[187] The Ethnocacerist movement compared Boluarte with Jeanine Áñez thus comparing Castillo's impeachment to the 2019 Bolivian political crisis.[188]
  • Former president Ollanta Humala called President Boluarte to resign and called the congress "indolent and irresponsible".[189]

Public opinion[edit]

According to IEP polling from January 2023, 60% of respondents believed that the protests were justified, 58% believed that police used excessive force and 44% believed that the protests were organized by citizens groups or spontaneous action.[190] The January poll also showed that compared to other regions, more respondents in Lima believed that the protests were terrorism and that the use of force by authorities was justified, while those polled in other regions did not.[190][191] President Boluarte had a disapproval rate of 71% while 88% of respondents disapproved of Congress.[191] When asked if they supported the calls for a new constitutent assembly, 69% of respondents approved.[192] According to those analyzing the polls, responses showed the disconnect between Lima and outlying regions.[193]

Regional governments[edit]

  • The National Assembly of Regional Governments proposed the convening of the National Agreement to seek a consensus between organizations, political parties and unions.[194][195]
  • The Regional Government of Apurímac announced the indefinite suspension of classes at all educational levels and alerted all institutions to work under the virtual modality throughout the department, with the exception of the health sector.[196]

International[edit]

Governments[edit]

  •  Argentina,  Bolivia,  Colombia,  Mexico: Presidents Alberto Fernández, Luis Arce, Gustavo Petro, and Andrés Manuel López Obrador issued a joint comuniqué through the Mexican Presidential Office expressing their "deep concern" about the Peruvian Congress not respecting "the will of its citizens at the ballot box". They added that "it is no news" that Castillo, from the day of his election, "was the victim of anti-democratic harassment, in violation of Article 23 of the American Convention on Human Rights". The four governments said that "our governments call on all the actors involved in the previous process to prioritize the will of the citizens that was pronounced at the ballot box. This is the way to interpret the scope and meaning of the notion of democracy as set forth in the Inter-American Human Rights System".[197]
    •  Colombia: President Gustavo Petro additionally stated that "the crisis in Peru, imprisoning without judge or legal defense a President elected by popular vote put under serious questioning the role of the American Convention in the Latin-American legal order".[198]
  •  Canada: Ambassador Louis Marcotte met with Peruvian foreign minister Ana Cecilia Gervasi Diaz, expressing Canada's support for the Boluarte government.[199]
  •  Chile: President Gabriel Boric regretted the deaths reported as the result of the protests and called on the Peruvian government to "guard and respect human rights". Boric, who referred to the situation in Peru as "serious", supported the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights mission in the country.[200]
  •  Russia: Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said that Russia "hopes in the normalization of the situation in Peru and that contradictions facing one faction with each other can be resolved in a legal frame, with democratic norms and within human rights, between Peruvians and without foreign interference."[201]
  •  United States: United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken made a phone call to President Boluarte and requested that her government "redouble their efforts to make needed reforms and safeguard democratic stability".[202][203]
  •   Vatican: Pope Francis, who was born in Argentina and served as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, stated "We pray for peace. May the violence [in Peru] cease and may the path of dialogue be taken to overcome the political and social crisis affecting the people".[204]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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