Conflicts & War

Peru’s president vows punishment amid renewed protest violence

Lima, Jan 19 (EFE).- Clashes between anti-government protesters and security forces, as well as related incidents, across Peru on Thursday resulted in more deaths as the country’s president vowed to punish acts of violence.

The turmoil of the protests and related incidents such as road blockades have resulted in the deaths of nearly 60 people since they began in December demanding elections and the resignation of President Dina Boularte, who came to power that month as the next in line to ousted Pedro Castillo.

Boluarte said in a statement at Lima’s Government Palace that her “government is firm and its cabinet is more united than ever.”

She accused protesters of wanting to “break the rule of law, generate chaos and disorder, and to seize power.”

“The acts of violence generated throughout these days, from December until now, in January, will not go unpunished,” she said, also calling for dialogue and calm.

The government extended a 30-day state of emergency to the departments of Amazonas, La Libertad and Tacna, joining Lima, Callao, Cuzco and Puno.

In the capital, clashes took place after thousands of people from across the country gathered for a march billed as the “takeover of Lima.”

Police dispersed the demonstrators with tear gas, while protesters threw stones, sticks and other objects.

The Ombudsman’s Office said 13 people were admitted to Arzobispo Loayza Hospital with injuries resulting from clashes, and that four troops were in Central Hospital.

“We demand that this (de) facto government leave. We do not want more of our compatriots to continue dying. We are not in a civil war and even so it is killing our brothers. We do not want a civil war,” marcher Víctor told EFE, adding that Boluarte was not elected and therefore illegitimate.

Another protester with a national flag in her hands told EFE that “in Peru we are experiencing a dictatorship.”

A huge fire also devastated a mansion, believed to have been unoccupied, in Lima’s historic center.

Prime Minister Alberto Otárola said in a statement that four Haitian citizens died of lung conditions as a result of road blockades near the Bolivian border which prevented them from accessing health services.

He also regretted the death of two men in the southern regions of Puno and Arequipa.

The Ombudsman’s Office confirmed the death in Arequipa, and said another 10 were injured in clashes on the Añashuayco bridge.

Police and the military in Arequipa repelled a reported attempt by protesters to take over the airport during clashes and, according to EFE, an airplane and armored vehicles from the armed forces participated in securing the airport.

The Ministry of the Interior reported on Twitter that police “frustrated an attempt to take over the facilities of the Alfredo Rodríguez Ballón airport, in #Arequipa” and the Ministry of Transport and Communications reported the closure of the airport.

Cuzco airport operations were also suspended due to the protests and local media reported another attempted assault on Juliaca airport in Puno.

The Ombudsman’s Office said its representatives supervised mostly peaceful demonstrations and marches in regions such as southern Tacna, Apurimac and Ayacucho, central Huánuco, and northern Cajamarca, Piura and Tumbes.

Peru’s protests began on Dec. 7 when Dina Boluarte assumed the presidency by constitutional succession after Castillo was ousted for attempting to shutter Congress and rule by decree.

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