Anger in rural areas fuel protests against Peru government

ANDAHUAYLAS, Peru (AP) – The Peruvian people’s anger against their government is now more apparent than in Andahuaylas, a remote Andean community where the poor have struggled for years and are Where voter support helped elect the now-ousted president, Pedro Castillo himself. Farmers like them.

Their outrage was such that their protest continued on Monday despite the deaths of four of them, two of them young protesters over the weekend, including 17-year-old Beckham Romario Quispe Garfias.

As thousands spilled on the streets, Raquel Quispe reminded her brother that a talented athlete is tired of the unseen in the eyes of politicians. Named after the great English footballers David Beckham and Romario, the Brazilian football phenomenon has turned politicians.

Clouds over her, she stood outside the hospital where his body was kept, and with anger in her voice, sometimes betrayed by tears, she summed up what prompted him and others to protest. Since Castillo’s ouster last week: Exclusive Democracy.

“For them, the only people in parliament who are right are the Peruvian people who have the money and the wealthy,” said Quispe, a toddler educator.

“They do what they want. For them … provincial elections are not fair, it is useless. But the Lima people’s election was taken into consideration. “That is unfair to all Peru.”

About 3,000 people gathered in the streets of Andahuaylas on Monday to protest and mourn and pay their respects in front of the white coffin of a young man who died over the weekend. Throughout the community, rocks were strewn across the streets, still marked by burning flames. The air architecture used by the armed forces is still blocked, black smoke is still billowing over the nearby buildings.

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Demonstrators across rural communities, including Andahuaylas, continued to call for President Dina Boluarte to resign and for a general election to replace her and all lawmakers. They also want authorities to release Castillo, who was detained on Wednesday when he was ousted by lawmakers after he sought to dissolve parliament ahead of the impeachment election.

As protesters also gathered in Lima, the capital was heated, especially in the countryside, a stronghold for Castillo, a former teacher and political newcomer from the impoverished Andean mountains.

Protesters on Monday took another step by blocking access to the international airport for hours in southern Peru and occupying its runway. Defense Minister Alberto Otarola told lawmakers during a session of parliament focused on civil unrest that protests in Arequipa, where the airport was located, had left one protester dead. Another protester was killed in the state, which also includes Andahuaylas, lawmakers said.

The increase comes after Boluarte responded to protesters’ demands hours earlier, announcing in a televised address that she would submit a parliamentary motion to change the election by April 2024. Reversal of her previous assertion that she should continue as president for the remainder of the election. 3 1/2 years of her previous term.

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In her address to the nation, Boluarte also declared a state of emergency in areas outside Lima, where protests were particularly violent.

“My duty as President of the Republic at this difficult time is to interpret … aspirations, interests and concerns,” Boluarte said in a statement. … of the majority Peruvian people. ”

Boluarte, 60, was sworn in Wednesday to replace Castillo hours after he stunned the country by ordering the dissolution of parliament, which later dismissed him as “permanently immoral.” Castillo was arrested on charges of sedition.

Members of Boluarte’s cabinet appeared before parliament on Monday to tell the story of the protests. Right-wing MP Jorge Montoya has called for appropriate measures to end the unrest, telling Castillo supporters that he has now been removed as a “closed chapter”.

“These are not protests, they are acts of terrorism that must be severely punished,” Montoya said. “You can not prevent a situation that is excessive.”

Peru has had six presidents in the last six years. In 2020, it went through three times a week.

The latest presidential crisis is taking place as the Andes and its thousands of small farms struggle to survive the worst drought in half a century. The country is also facing the fifth wave of Kovid-19 cases.

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Castillo fans hope that popular outsiders will solve some of the challenges they have been facing for a long time. But during his 17 months in office, Castillo was unable to achieve any signature project and faced the racism and discrimination that his poor supporters often faced.

In the Andahuaylas, about 80% of voters who cast their ballots during last year’s election supported Castillo. His proposals include a rewrite of the country’s constitution, which was last drafted and approved in 1993 during the government of Alberto Fujimori, a disgraced former president whose daughter Keiko lost his presidency to Castillo. .

Rosario Garfias was among those protesting outside the hospital where the body of her 17-year-old son was being held. She expressed her grief over the death of her son, speaking in Quechua, one of Peru’s indigenous languages.

“My mother is protesting in her language. I know a lot of people don’t understand her, not even Congress, ”said her daughter Raquel Quispe.

“She was saying, ‘She is in so much pain because she was killed in a slaughterhouse.’ And my mother, like my family, asked for justice for my brother. ”


Garcia Cano reports from Lima.


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