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New demonstrations erupted across the country on Sunday to denounce the seizure of power by the vice-president, Dina Boluarte, following the arrest of her predecessor, Pedro Castillo. The violence left at least two dead and five injured.
Two people died and at least five people were injured on Sunday (December 11th) during growing protests against Peru’s President Dina Boluarte after the failed coup and the arrest of former President Pedro Castillo.
Sign of the rising tension: a session in Congress on the situation in the country was suspended after incidents. Images posted on social networks show a man punching another in an aisle of the hemicycle and then a stampede in the center of it. The session was still suspended on Sunday at the start of the evening.
Protests have multiplied across the country, especially in cities in the north and in the Andes. Thousands of people mobilized in the streets of Cajamarca, Arequipa, Tacna, Andahuaylas, Cusco and Puno, demanding the release of the former head of state and new elections and calling for a national strike.
“We regret the death of two people and several injured in the clashes. I urge the population to remain calm,” Interior Minister César Cervantes told RPP radio, shortly after an initial report by the police. one dead – a teenager – and five injured.
“The life of no Peruvian deserves to be sacrificed for political interests. I reiterate my call for dialogue and the renunciation of violence”, launched Ms. Boluarte on Twitter.
The day before, clashes in Andahuaylas (south) had resulted in a toll of 20 wounded (16 civilians and 4 policemen). The violence resumed on Sunday with tear gas fired by the police and stones thrown by demonstrators who notably tried to take the airport of this city.
Riot police reinforcements were to be flown in to contain the protests, police were told. Andahuaylas, located in the Apurimac region, is the region of origin of Ms. Boluarte, described as “treacherous” by supporters of the deposed ex-president. The police station in Huancabamba, a town in Apurimac, was set on fire, according to RPP radio.
In Lima, between 1,000 and 2,000 people demonstrated in front of the Congress shouting “Castillo you are not alone, the people support you” and waving signs accusing “Dina (Boluarte) and the Congress” of being ” corrupt rats”. Lima has always turned its back on Mr. Castillo, a rural teacher and union leader disconnected from the elites, while he was supported by the Andean regions since the 2021 elections.
Agrarian unions and peasant and indigenous social organizations called on Sunday for an “indefinite strike” from Tuesday, rejecting the Congress and demanding early elections and a new constitution.
According to the communiqué of the Agrarian and Rural Front of Peru, which calls for the “immediate release” of Mr. Castillo, he “did not perpetrate a coup” when he attempted on December 7 to dissolve Parliament and to establish a state of emergency.
He was arrested a few hours later by his own bodyguard on his way to the Mexican embassy to seek political asylum. He is accused of “rebellion”.
Prison letter and conspiracy theory
Ms. Boluarte, vice-president until her inauguration on December 7 after the dismissal of Mr. Castillo, formed a government on Saturday with an independent and technical profile, with a former prosecutor, Pedro Angulo, as Prime Minister. On Friday, Ms. Boluarte had not ruled out calling early elections in order to find a peaceful way out of the political crisis.
The demand for new elections is associated with a massive rejection from Congress: according to November polls, 86% of Peruvians disapprove of Parliament.
At the same time, the theory, put forward by the former chief of staff and Mr. Castillo’s lawyer that the former president was drugged without his knowledge during his failed coup attempt, is exciting the country.
In a letter that Mr. Castillo would have written in prison, he assures that a “camouflaged” doctor and nurses and a “faceless” (hooded) prosecutor “forced” him to take blood samples without his consent , evoking a “Machiavellian plan”. The president of the Institute of Forensic Medicine, Francisco Brizuela, told him that the ex-president had “refused to submit” to the tests.