Tuesday’s protests were the largest and most violent since last Thursday (Associated Press)
Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of the Peruvian capital, Lima, and security forces confronted them with tear gas, just hours after President Dina Boloart called for a “truce” after the ongoing wave of protests that began nearly two months ago.
Tuesday’s protests were the largest and most violent since last Thursday, when large groups – mostly from the Andean hinterland – descended on the capital to demand Boulwart’s resignation, immediate elections and the dissolution of Congress.
“There can be no truce when you don’t tell the truth,” said Blanca Espana Mesa, a 48-year-old protester, referring to the country’s president. As her eyes watered from the gas, Maisa added, “I am happy that many protesters came today. It is as if the people have woken up.”
The crisis that sparked Peru’s worst political violence in more than two decades began when former President Pedro Castillo, Peru’s first Andean leader, attempted to block the third impeachment of his administration by ordering the dissolution of Congress on Dec. 7.
Instead, the police arrested him before he could find a safe haven, and Boulwart, who was his deputy, was sworn in. Fifty-six people have died since, amid unrest involving Castillo’s supporters.-
45 of them died in direct clashes with the security forces, and no deaths occurred in Lima. On Tuesday, the police fired a barrage of tear gas in an attempt to prevent the passage of the demonstrators, who appeared more organized than before.--
The demonstrators chanted, “You murderers,” and some of them threw stones at the police forces. Police continued to fire gas even after most of the demonstrators had left, to disperse small groups in a square in front of the Supreme Court.
“I have the right to protest in this country,” said Emiliano Merino, a 60-year-old protester as he was being treated by volunteer paramedics after birdshot hit his arms.
Boulwart had earlier called for a truce, accused protesters of causing the political violence that has gripped the country, and claimed during a press conference that illegal miners, drug dealers and smugglers had formed a “paramilitary force” to seek chaos for political gain.
She said the blocking of roads and damage to infrastructure across the country had cost Peru more than $1 billion in losses.