Conflicts & War

Peruvian city mourns 17 killed by police

Juliaca, Peru, Jan 11 (EFE).- This city in Peru’s southernmost province paid homage Wednesday to 17 residents fatally shot by police two days ago amid protests against the transitional government led by Dina Boluarte, the Andean nation’s sixth president since 2016.

Thousands of people, many dressed in black, joined the funeral procession bearing the coffins of the 17 victims, including a medical student and a street vendor, down the main thoroughfares of Juliaca.

Located roughly 1,300 km (808 mi) from Lima, this city of nearly 280,000 people has been the epicenter of the anti-government protests since they resumed last week following a holiday truce.

The mobilizations began on Dec. 7, when the conservative-majority Congress removed leftist President Pedro Castillo hours after he announced that he was dismissing the legislature and planned to rule by decree pending the results of elections to be held within nine months.

The first three weeks of demonstrations resulted in 28 deaths, 22 of them attributable to shots fired by police and soldiers, and the toll now stands at 47.

Most of the fatalities followed the transitional government’s imposition of a state of emergency entailing the suspension of some constitutional rights.

The movement demands the resignation of erstwhile Vice President Boluarte, the dissolution of Congress, general elections this year and the convening of a constituent assembly to draft a replacement for the constitution enacted in 1993 under President Alberto Fujimori, who is now serving life in prison for massacres and embezzlement during his 10 years in power.

Wednesday’s procession starting at around 10:30 am and by mid-day, had reached the main square of Juliaca, where a funeral Mass was held.

The coffins were accompanied by photos of the deceased, flowers and boxes for donations to defray the costs, as well as by posters and placards demanding justice.

“Dina murdered me with bullets,” read a message attached to one of the coffins.

The sentiments behind that statement are apparently shared by some in the Peruvian Attorney General’s Office, as prosecutors have launched a preliminary investigation into Boluarte and several members of her weeks-old administration on suspicion of mass murder.

After the Mass, some of the coffins were carried to the city’s airport, the scene of some of the most intense confrontations between protesters and security forces.

As the people of Juliaca bid farewell to their dead, tensions flared Wednesday in the southern city of Cuzco, capital of the likenamed province and the gateway to the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, Peru’s leading tourist attraction.

Hundreds marched to Cuzco’s airport, guarded by a large police contingent equipped with armored vehicles.

In Ayacucho, Peru’s second city, the second day of a general strike included a moment of silence in the main square to honor the victims in Juliaca.

Protesters in Tacna province, bordering Chile, set fire to toll-booths on the Panamericana Sur highway in a pre-dawn raid, while police used tear gas to dispel a group of demonstrators trying to storm a shopping center.

Castillo, 53, was a schoolteacher and union leader with no experience of public office when he shocked Peru’s political class by reaching the second stage of the presidential contest in 2021, going on to defeat Keiko Fujimori (daughter of the disgraced Alberto) in the runoff.



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