Conflicts & War

Objects, insults hurled at gov’t officials in 2 Peruvian regions

Lima, Mar 13 (EFE).- Peru’s energy minister and deputy health minister were targets of verbal and physical aggression Monday by anti-government protesters during visits to two different southern regions.

In the department of Apurimac, Energy Minister Oscar Vera was taking part in a 2023 academic year inauguration ceremony at a school in the local capital of Abancay when he was accosted by a group of demonstrators who hurled insults in his direction.

After Vera was quickly whisked away from the school as a security measure, a score of people followed the official vehicles and shouted “the minister’s escaping” and “murderer.”

Apurimac, the native region of President Dina Boluarte, was the scene of intense anti-government protests in December in which seven people died in clashes with the security forces.

Elsewhere, a deputy health minister, Henry Rebaza, had to quickly abort a lunch at a restaurant in the southern region of Ayacucho when demonstrators from the Ayacucho People’s Defense Front (Fredepa) started hurling objects at him.

After Rebaza had been driven away in a vehicle, demonstrators threw fruit and other objects at the security personnel.

In a video that went viral on social media and was uploaded to the websites of local media outlets, the demonstrators could be heard shouting “murderers,” “scoundrels” and “get out of Ayacucho.”

In December, shortly after the start of anti-government marches against Boluarte, a protest was held in Ayacucho that turned violent and led to the deaths of 10 demonstrators in clashes with security forces.

Members of Baluarte’s government also have been unwelcome in other parts of Peru, with disturbances erupting in the southern department of Moquegua when Prime Minister Alberto Otarola traveled there to present an economic revival program.

In that instance, however, National Police officers used tear gas to prevent the demonstrators from getting close to the event.

Protests broke out following the Dec. 7 removal of then-President Pedro Castillo after the leftist tried to dissolve Congress and begin preparations for a constitutional convention.

Demonstrators are demanding the resignation of erstwhile Vice President Boluarte, the closure of Congress, moving up the next general election from 2026 to this year, and the holding of an assembly to draft a new constitution.

Last week, Boluarte answered questions from Attorney General Patricia Benavides about the deaths of at least 48 protesters at the hands of security forces in the last three months.

She was subpoenaed to give a statement as Benavides weighs filing mass-murder charges against her and several former and current members of the administration that took power on Dec. 7 with the congressional ouster of Castillo.

Facing possible indictment along with Boluarte are Otarola, Defense Minister Jorge Chavez, former Prime Minister Pedro Angulo and ex-Interior Ministers Victor Rojas and Cesar Cervantes.

Survey results released at the end of last month by the Institute of Peruvian Studies (IEP) show Boluarte with a disapproval rating of 77 percent, while 90 percent of respondents disapproved of Congress.

The 53-year-old Castillo, a former schoolteacher, was slapped with an 18-month preventive detention order for his actions on Dec. 7, which the AG Office says amounted to an attempted coup.

Last Thursday, he was handed a second 36-month preventive detention term for the alleged crimes of criminal organization, collusion and influence peddling.

Castillo’s attempt to dissolve Congress came hours before opposition lawmakers were to mount another attempt to impeach him, which would have been the third such “constitutional accusation” against him since he took office in July 2021. EFE


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