Peru Protests

Peru declares State of Emergency in Lima, Callao, Cusco and Puno

Peru declares State of Emergency in Lima, Callao, Cusco and Puno.

Peru’s government declared a state of emergency in various locations in the country, including the departments of Cusco, Lima and Puno, and in the constitutional province of Callao, as reported by the Official Gazette, El Peruano.

The measure was announced by Supreme Decree No. 009-2023-PCM, published last night in an extraordinary edition of the Legal Standards bulletin of the Official Gazette El Peruano. Its application starts today and will continue for the next 30 calendar days.

The declaration of the state of emergency covers, in addition to the aforementioned jurisdictions, the province of Andahuaylas, in the department of Apurímac; as well as the provinces of Tambopata and Tahuamanu, in Madre de Dios.

Likewise, the state of exception also applies to the district of Torata, in the province of Mariscal Nieto, department of Moquegua.

 

 

Highways

The state of emergency also includes the Panamericana Sur, Panamericana Norte, Central highways, the South Apurimac-Cusco-Arequipa Road Corridor and the South Interoceanic Road Corridor.

It is indicated that in the aforementioned constituencies the constitutional rights of the inviolability of the home and the freedoms of transit through Peru’s national territory, of assembly, and of personal liberty and security are suspended.

On the other hand, it is stated in the supreme decree that from today, and for ten calendar days, mandatory social immobilization will be applied in the department of Puno, between 8:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m.

Regarding the participation of the National Police and the Armed Forces, it is indicated that this is regulated by legislative decrees 1186 and 1095, referring to the use of force by said institutions, respectively.

These provisions are supported by letters issued by the Police General Command and the Operational Planning Office of the General Counsel Command of this institution, which recommend the declaration of emergency in the jurisdictions and on the roads mentioned due to social conflicts “registered as of the January 4.”

This supreme decree is signed by President Dina Boluarte; the head of the Ministerial Cabinet, Alberto Otárola; and the Ministers of Defence, Interior and Justice.

Widening the State of Emergency

The measure was a response to the spread of protests against Boluarte’s government, in which almost 50 people have died, reports Infobae. The mobilizations began in December, shortly after Boluarte assumed power after the dismissal of her predecessor, Pedro Castillo, for his attempt to close down Peru’s congress.

 

 

New Dates

The Boluarte government has decreed a new State of Emergency starting Sunday, January 15, for 30 days in three departments, three provinces, and one district.

The State of Emergency suspends the constitutional rights of inviolability of domicile and, as well as the freedoms of transit, assembly and personal security.

Regions

This new state of exception was decreed for the department of Lima, where the capital of the country is located, and the regions of Puno and Cusco, in southern Peru; the region and province of Callao, adjacent to the capital; a province of the Apurímac region; two others from Madre de Dios; and a district in Moquegua, the latter also southern jurisdictions.

The norm establishes that in these places the National Police maintains control of the internal order with the support of the Armed Forces in order to contain possible convulsions.

The measure includes five highways that cross the country, after several incidents of roadblocks in the protests that paralyzed the transport of people and goods.

In addition, a night curfew was established in Puno, one of the epicenters of the protests, for 10 days from eight at night to four in the morning. This measure had been given before for three days from Tuesday the 10th to Friday the 13th.

 

 

Protests continue

The Ombudsman’s Office reported on Saturday afternoon new mobilizations, strikes and roadblocks in 33 provinces, most of the southern regions of the country.

Victims

Since the protests began, 49 people have died: 41 civilians in clashes, seven due to traffic accidents and events linked to blockades, and a policeman who died after being attacked by a mob, according to the Ombudsman’s report.

 

 

Demands

The protests – which demand an advance of general elections, the resignation of Boluarte and the closure of Congress – gained new impetus this week after resuming on Wednesday the 4th, following a partial truce due to the end of the year holidays.

Among the protesters there are those who also demand that Castillo, Boluarte’s predecessor who was deposed and remains in preventive detention for 18 months while being investigated for alleged rebellion, be released.

In addition to the resignation of the President, protestors are demanding elections this year, instead of April 2024, as well as the call for a Constituent Assembly that the leftist parties and various peasant organizations have been demanding since 2021, reported Pagina Siete.

Seeking Justice

Pagina Siete reports 531 injured -355 civilians and 176 police officers- and 329 detainees, citing numbers by the Prosecutor’s Office.

The voices demanding the resignation of President Boluarte were joined by regional governors and several professional associations in Peru.

“How many more deaths will Dina Boluarte’s permanence in the Presidency cost? That is what all Peruvians, left or right, should ask ourselves. No charge can be above human life,” the governor of Puno, Richard Hancco, told the press in recent hours.

In the same vein, authorities from the Andean regions of Apurímac and Cusco, as well as 12 departmental bar associations and the National Association of Teachers, joined the pronouncements.

Boluarte assumed the government after Castillo, who had been president since 2021, was removed by Congress after trying to dissolve congress through a televised message on December 7. The current president was Castillo’s vice president. Parliament swore her in on the same day of Castillo’s dismissal.

Castillo was arrested when he was in a vehicle with his entourage on an avenue in downtown Lima. According to the Prosecutor’s Office, he was going to the Mexican embassy to seek political asylum.

Boluarte’s response

Dina Boluarte offered a message to the nation on January 13. The dignitary stressed that she will not leave office and expressed her regret for the 49 deaths during the protests against her government.

“I cannot stop reiterating my regret for the deaths of Peruvian men and women in the protests, both our civilian compatriots and the brave policeman who lost his life in an unfortunate manner. I apologize for this situation,” she said.

 

 

“Preventing the supply markets, pharmacies or production centers that are vital to our economy from working. Taking over airports, mining camps, or venturing into a gas plant, exposing the lives of all Peruvians, in no way constitutes the right to protest,” she asserted.

“Some voices that come from the violent and radical call for my resignation, stirring up the population to chaos, disorder and destruction. I tell them, responsibly, I am not going to resign, my commitment is with Peru and not with that tiny group,” she declared.

 

 

Urgent Solutions are Needed

“The government of Dina Boluarte does not seem to have a clear strategy to put an end to the extremely high levels of violence that this week have reopened bleeding wounds,” stated Economy analyst, Alejandra Costa for El Comercio.

For Costa the lack of urgent solution sends Peru deeper into an economic crisis: “Every day that passes without the government of Dina Boluarte finding a viable solution to the current crisis increases the economic, social and political damage that, surely, will take us a long time to try to repair.”

Economically, “the massive cancellations of reservations by hundreds of foreign tourists are not only hitting the income of those who depend on this sector, but could create a scenario in which we simply have to get used to receiving less visitor flow,” explains Costa.

“Nobody wants to travel to a country where what we are experiencing today can happen at any moment. The same is true with investments. Despite the initial enthusiasm caused by the selection of Dina Boluarte’s ministers, the continuation of the protests, the attacks on mining installations, the proximity of new elections and the possibility that the convocation of a constituent assembly cannot be avoided are sources of uncertainty that will make it even more difficult for investors to bet on the country,” Costa asserted.

One of the main demands is the resignation of Dina Boluarte. “And the president, instead of doing politics and trying to establish herself in office, disappears. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Alberto Otárola does not assume any political responsibility for the deaths nor does he seem to show that the Government is learning from the mistakes he has made so far,” states Costa.

“Beyond the police repression, which so far has caused more than 40 deaths, according to the Ombudsman’s Office, the Executive does not seem to have many other ideas,” argues Costa.

Political Vortex

Among the impending challenges she faces, Dina Boluarte must figure out this year how to avoid “Peru’s tricky political labyrinth responsible for, between destitutions and forced resignations, the loss of five presidents in six years,” writes Ramiro Pellet Lastra of La Nacion.

Pellet Lastra says that right now, the attention is focused on the southern Andean regions, rich in copper, gas and tourism, “with the citadel of Machu Picchu as the maximum expression of its greatness, past and present, but ultimately poor for a majority of the population. The same population that feels abandoned and is on the warpath.”

“The situation is very complex, and we do not see an improvement in the short term. We do see that it will continue to worsen, especially due to the fatalities that are occurring, which tends to give the protesters more air and in a certain way more legitimacy,” states political analyst Sebastián Fernández, who studies Peru for the international consultancy, Control Risks.

The complaints of excessive use of force, with more than forty deaths since December, fuel the anger of the protesters against Boluarte. “They see her as a vile “traitor” for offering to succeed the socialist Castillo, of whom she was vice president, and approaching the right,” says Pellet Lastra.

The protesters unanimously demand immediate elections to replace Congress, “seen as an elitist, insensitive, ignorant and corrupt entity. They also want at all costs a new president, attentive and close to their painful need,” describes Pellet Lastra.

“The government wants to send a high-level delegation to negotiate some very specific concessions from the people, which are the resignation of the president and Congress, elections in the next four months, and specific investigations into the deaths that have occurred in this long month of protests,” says Fernández. “Neither Boluarte intends to resign, as she confirmed in a speech on television, nor does Congress want to dissolve itself,” he adds.

“Advancing elections in the shortest possible time is not one more option, but perhaps the only way to at least reduce social tension, and even that haste is not a guarantee that it will be lasting. Let us not fool ourselves: We have entered into an inevitable spiral of misgovernment and there is no institutional reform capable of stopping it, perhaps only slowing it down,” said political scientist Gonzalo Banda.

Contemplating a path towards peace, Pellet Lastra concludes, “But the fluid instability of Peruvian politics, where a president can last five years, five months or five days, makes every prognosis bleak at best. It will depend, immediately, on how the conflictive situation in the south evolves.”

 


Dr. Soledad Quartucci | Founder

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