The anger of the protesters who have taken to the streets of Peru is putting the resistance of the president, Dina Boluarte, to the test these days. The crowd has blocked highways, two airports and is facing authorities in different parts of the country. However, the successor to Pedro Castillo, the imprisoned president accused of rebellion for promoting a self-coup last week, intends to remain in office for almost another year and a half before calling elections. The times seem excessive to his critics, who demand that he call the polls immediately to elect a new Congress and a Presidency that tries to get the nation out of the deep institutional crisis in which it is immersed.
Protests grow throughout Peru. Some shops in the center of Lima have closed for fear of looting. The south has declared rebellion and has announced that it does not recognize Boluarte as the nation’s leader. The blockade of the highways of the mining corridor affects the Chinese company MMG, which transports copper to the ports of the coast to distribute it to the rest of the world. The premises of one of the main dairy companies have been taken by force. Chaos has gripped much of the country.
In a statement, the spokeswoman for the United Nations Human Rights Office, Marta Hurtado, called for the respect, protection and guarantee of human rights and asked the authorities to initiate “impartial, transparent and effective investigations” so that those responsible for the attacks dead attacks during protests be held accountable. In addition, she highlighted the importance of listening to the concerns and claims of the population to address the current situation. Local media report at least seven dead during the riots these days.
The president has tried to contain the fury of the protesters by presenting concrete measures. This Monday morning, when half the country was sleeping, he announced a proposal for elections for April 2024. His idea, initially, was to stay until 2026, when Castillo’s term expired, and for this he appointed ministers of his trust with the intention of exhaust the legislature. The ad did not send people home. What’s more, the protests increased. Setting a date for the elections has not calmed things down either. An important part of the country wants immediate elections.
State of emergency
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Boluarte also decreed a state of alarm in the south, where the new Executive finds more resistance. Fredy Llaique, vice president of the Defense Committee of Espinar (Cusco), a province affected by the contamination of mining companies, has said: “We do not know Mrs. Dina Boluarte as president, since she was elected by a corrupt and dissolved Congress. .” The emergency means that the military assists the police to try to control public order and freedom of movement, assembly and the inviolability of the home are suspended.
Castillo spent 18 months at the helm of a government tormented by Congress. Peruvian political life is summed up in a continuous struggle between the president and the Chamber, which can form majorities that dismiss him without a specific reason. Congressmen can apply a mechanism reserved for leaders with mental problems that appears in the Constitution. Castillo was a humble man who became president almost by accident. He never got actual control of the executive from him. He lived in improvisation and lack of control. He blamed all his ills on Congress, which he accused of not letting him govern because of racism and classism. The president raised that speech on his trips to the regions where he was voted for the most and that is where the message has penetrated.
The indigenous organizations of the Amazon have joined the demonstrations. “We do not want the same corrupt and discriminatory political class to return. And Congress must be closed as obstructionist and racist, it represents a threat to indigenous peoples,” said a spokesperson. On the periphery there is a feeling that in Lima, the capital, there is a white elite that has ruled the country for 200 years and clings to its privileges as best it can. According to that way of seeing things, Castillo has been the victim of a system created to reject people like him.
There is some truth to that, but Castillo also did everything he could to show his incompetence. He had dozens of ministers, advisors, collaborators, who left after seeing how chaotic his government was. In a year and a half he failed to take a single step to push the change agenda with which he came to power. What’s more, he ended up surrounded by politicians of dubious prestige and far-right conspirators and advisers. He was haunted by a possible impeachment trial that Congress engineered twice. The third time he achieved his goal, counting, yes, with the invaluable help of Castillo, who in an unexpected twist tried to become an autocrat. He announced the dissolution of Congress and the curfew in the country. If he had looked out the window at that moment he would not have seen either tanks or police squads. No one supported him and within hours he was arrested and sent to prison.
From there, Castillo wrote a letter on Monday that his lawyer released. “I am speaking to you at the most difficult moment of my Government: humiliated, incommunicado, mistreated and kidnapped, but even so, clothed in your confidence and struggle, in the majesty of the sovereign people, but also imbued with the glorious spirit of our ancestors,” he says. . “I speak to you to reiterate that I am unconditionally faithful to the popular and constitutional mandate that I hold as president and I will not resign or abandon my high and sacred functions”, which implies that he still considers himself the legitimate president of Peru.
It really isn’t anymore. Congress hit the vacancy button and Castillo sadly went down in history. The Prosecutor’s Office investigates him and the closest environment of his advisers as a possible criminal organization that sought to hold power in an authoritarian manner. The rural teacher drags another five investigations for corruption, of which the Prosecutor’s Office has indications. The protests are to remove him, but they are not necessarily a movement in support of him. Protesters believe the country has hit rock bottom after having six presidents in four years. Boluarte is one more in that loop that leads nowhere.
She wants to stay in power for just over a year. The question is for what. People interpret it as her way of getting into the presidency. The president herself maintains that at this moment she wants to create a concerted government that carries out a political reform that changes some rules of the game to improve governability. Something not easy to execute, because those who have to approve this new political map are the same ones who feel comfortable in this situation. Peru has become a world example of disorder.
Boluarte is playing the permanence in the next week. Protests have been on the rise since he took office and nothing has been able to calm them down. The popular clamor will determine the time that he will remain in an armchair that seems cursed.
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