Peru Resists!: Mass protests met with intense repression in wake of coup
Workers and Indigenous groups rally against the coup in Cusco, Peru, December 14 -- Image via Twitter
On December 7 leftist Peruvian president Pedro Castillo was overthrown in a right-wing coup led by the country's reactionary Congress.
Ever since Castillo won a stunning upset as a Marxist in June, 2021, the right in Peru has been working ceaselessly to undermine, destabilize and destroy the Castillo presidency.
Previously they had already tried to impeach him twice and now have succeeded in bringing about his downfall using his entirely justified attempts to stop this as a shameful smokescreen.
In the days since the coup there have been mass protests and mounting popular resistance across the country with Peruvians demanding that Castillo -- who has been arrested and imprisoned -- be released and reinstated, the resignation of new President Dina Boluarte, that early congressional elections be held and that a constituent assembly be convened to draft a new constitution. The existing constitution entrenches the political power of the country's oligarchic elite and is widely considered to be profoundly undemocratic.
This resistance has been with extreme state police violence that has left numerous people dead and wounded including minors. The offices of left, union and Indigenous organizations have been raided and there have been many arrests.
Here is a roundup of the latest developments:
Pressure rose on Peru's fledgling government on Friday as two Cabinet members resigned following deadly protests that have rocked the country since former President Pedro Castillo's removal from office and arrest last week.
Education Minister Patricia Correa and Culture Minister Jair Perez announced their resignations on Twitter, citing the deaths of individuals during the unrest.
"This morning I presented my letter of resignation from the position of education minister. The death of compatriots has no justification. State violence cannot be disproportionate and cause death," Correa said on her Twitter account.
Castillo's ouster has sparked angry protests, with demonstrators calling for early elections, the closure of Congress, a constituent assembly, and the resignation of new President Dina Boluarte.
The protests continued Friday, with key roads blockaded and airports forced to close. At least 17 people have been killed in the protests so far, authorities have said, and at least five more have died of indirect consequences.
Since December 7, tens of thousands of citizens have been protesting in different parts of Peru against the ouster of democratically-elected left-wing President Pedro Castillo in a legislative coup carried out by the right-wing dominated unicameral Congress.
For the last week, Peruvians have been on the streets demanding that Castillo, who was illegally arrested following his removal from office, be immediately released and reinstated. They are also demanding the effective dissolution of the Congress, which currently has an 11% approval rating.
The citizens are also demanding that a Constituent Assembly be convened to draft a new constitution to replace the current neoliberal one, which favors the right-wing oligarchy. The 1993 Peruvian Constitution was written and imposed during the far-right dictatorship of Alberto Fujimori (July 1990–November 2000).
The protesters have been organizing mobilizations, road blockades, and occupying local airports across the country demanding structural changes. The agrarian unions, peasant and Indigenous movements, as well as social and women’s rights organizations have embarked on an indefinite national strike, beginning Dec. 13, to push for these demands. Several student associations and teachers’ unions have also joined the protests. The protests are taking place in 13 of the country’s 24 regions.
“The oligarchic rulers of Peru could never accept that a rural schoolteacher and peasant leader could be brought into office by millions of poor, Black, and Indigenous people who saw their hope for a better future in Castillo,” Manolo De Los Santos, co-executive director of the People’s Forum, earlier explained in People’s Dispatch.
The government of newly-appointed President Dina Boluarte, who entered into a political alliance with the right wing to govern, has responded to protests with the militarization of rural provinces where there are large mobilizations taking place. On Dec. 12, Boluarte declared a “state of emergency” in several provinces, restricting the citizens’ right to freedom of movement and assembly.
The police have been responding to these peaceful protests with violence and repression. The police officers have been using tear gas and even live bullets against demonstrators.
According to reports from local media and the National Ombudsman Office, at least two protesters, 15 and 18 years old, were killed in police repression on Sunday, December 11, in the city of Andahuaylas, in Apurímac region. On Monday December 12, in the city of Chincheros, the local hospital confirmed that two protesters died as a result of the police repression, including a 16-year-old and 26-year-old Jonathan Lloclla Loayza. A fifth protester was killed in Arequipa by police.
In the early hours of Sunday morning, residents had been demonstrating outside the local airport in Andahuaylas and blocked the entrance. In an attempt to unblock the airport, the police agents brutally repressed the people. Videos on social media showed the police running over a woman and attacking the press. In the incident, over 20 people were severely injured and over a dozen were arrested. The hospital in the city reported that one of the deceased died due to a gunshot injury in the neck.
The move by Pedro Castillo to dissolve congress ahead of a third impeachment motion seems to be the result of a pressure campaign with support from the US, write VIJAY PRASHAD and JOSE CARLOS LLERENA