Lima, Dec 16 (EFE).- At least two more protesters died on Friday in clashes with the police in Peru’s central Junin region taking the total number of deaths in widespread protests in the country to 22, authorities said.
The protests, which are demanding the closure of Congress, the resignation of the president, Dina Boluarte, and the convocation of a constituent assembly, erupted out on Sunday.
A total of three civilians have died, “as a result of the clashes that occurred in (the district of) Pichanaki during the day,” the health directorate of Junín said on Friday night.
Fifty-two people have also been injured, including 43 protesters and nine police officers, it added.
Six people have also lost their lives in Apurímac, three in La Libertad, eight in Ayacucho, and one in Arequipa and Cuzco.
The identities of all victims have not been revealed so far, but at least three of them were minors.
On Friday morning, the health ministry announced that 63 people had been admitted to hospital after protests in several parts of the country.
Of these, 26 are in Ayacucho, in the south of the country, where protesters tried to occupy the airport on Thursday, prompting the military to open fire on them, according to multiple videos circulated on social media.
The health directorate of Ayacucho said that “the 410 health facilities and support hospitals in the region are on red alert, in order to ensure the presence of staff, the provision of medical supplies and the timely care of patients.”
On Wednesday, the Boluarte administration imposed a nationwide state of emergency for 30 days to control acts of vandalism and violence committed in the demonstrations.
A day later, a curfew was imposed in 15 provinces across eight departments.
“I regret the tragic events that have claimed the lives of several compatriots in several regions of the country. This has to stop,” Boluarte said in a commencement address at a military academy on Friday.
“I have convened the leaders of the Catholic and evangelical churches to set up a dialogue in each of the regions that have mobilized,” she added.
Boluarte spoke a day after eight people died when soldiers opened fire on the protesters trying to occupy the airport in Ayacucho.
Two members of her Cabinet resigned Friday over the security forces’ “disproportionate” response to the protests.
“This morning I have presented my letter of resignation from the office of Minister of State of education,” Patricia Correa wrote on Twitter. “The deaths of fellow citizens have no justification whatsoever. State violence cannot be disproportionate and deadly.”
Stepping down as culture minister, Jair Perez said that “the irreparable loss of brothers and sisters” made it impossible for him to remain in the government.
But Defense Minister Alberto Otarola spoke out later Friday to express the Boluarte government’s “unconditional support for our armed forces and National Police in this task of establishing internal order.”
On the political front, Peru’s Congress – which has an approval rating of 10 percent – rejected Boluarte’s proposal to move up the general elections from 2026 to December 2023.
The bill garnered 49 votes, far short of the 87 needed to pass, amid complaints from leftist lawmakers that the text should have included provision for a constituent assembly to draft a new constitution.