Peru’s political spiral continues
Years of frustration fuel protests
Political protests are gripping Peru, leaving thousands of people stranded and more than two dozen dead.
The ouster of former President Pedro Castillo sparked the protests, which are mostly in the capital city and southern region. That’s where much of Peru’s indigenous community lives. Many of them support Castillo, a former teacher and union leader who bested the traditional political elite in a surprise presidential victory last year.
“For them, those who are there in Congress, the only opinion that is valid is that of Peruvians who have money, of wealthy people,” said Raquel Quispe, an early childhood education teacher in Andahuaylas.
Castillo faced a rocky tenure, with two initial impeachment attempts and six corruption charges. Authorities ousted him after he sought to dissolve Congress and rule by decree on Dec. 7. Many in the southern region view his ouster as a direct attack from the elite.
“We are the people, good people, hard-working people, people who maintain the capital,” said Gricelda Cosi Quispe, a merchant who attended the protests. “The people came out, tired of all this abuse, to protest in the streets to be heard.”
The protests started two weeks ago, defying a 30-day state of emergency. Demonstrators are calling for Castillo’s release and for his successor, former Vice President Dina Boluarte to step down.
Congress this week heeded calls to speed up general elections, but many are watching to see if the vote now scheduled for April will quell the growing frustration.
At least 26 people have died, while more than 500 others have sustained injuries. The protests have blocked highways and airports, stranding thousands of tourists in the ancient city of Machu Picchu. The blockades also left thousands of truck drivers stuck on the international bridge at Desaguadero, which connects southern Peru to neighboring Bolivia.
Hundreds of protesters this week gathered in the main square of the city of Cusco in Peru’s southern Andes region. Many held signs and chanted slogans against Boluarte.
Boluarte supports moving up the elections, which were initially scheduled for 2026.
She has insisted her departure will not resolve the country’s urgent problems. Peru has had six presidents in the past six years. The southern region is also in the middle of its worst drought in half a century.
Peru’s Council of State, which includes politicians and senior church leaders, has held high-level talks and plans to meet with demonstrators.
“The constitutional crisis that the former president has unleashed will likely exacerbate long-standing political fatigue and social unrest in the country,” said Maria Fernanda Bozmoski, deputy director of programs at the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center.
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