Lima, Apr 5 (EFE).- Peru’s embattled leftist president reversed course Tuesday on the controversial – and possibly unconstitutional curfew he imposed on this capital and its adjacent port, Callao.
“I must announce that from this moment, we are going to allow this standstill to lapse and it is appropriate to appeal to the tranquility of the Peruvian people,” Pedro Castillo said shortly before 5:00 pm during a meeting with congressional leaders.
The curfew, which the president proclaimed shortly before midnight Monday in response to a week-long truckers’ strike, was supposed to last until 11:59 pm Tuesday.
Lima and Callao provinces are home to around 10 million of Peru’s 33.6 million inhabitants.
Authorities have an obligation to “protect the lives of all” Peruvians, Castillo said after lifting the curfew, adding that respect for citizens’ right to protest does not include condoning excesses such as blocking highways and vandalizing public and private property.
Four people have died in incidents stemming from the roadblocks erected by striking truck drivers, while at least 20 people have been arrested for disturbances connected with the truckers’ protest over rising fuel prices.
Protesters set fire to five toll booths in the southern Ica region on Monday, a day after the government said that some fuel taxes would be suspended for three months.
Some looting of supermarkets and shops took place in the northern city of Trujillo, coming on the heels of similar incidents in the Andean city of Huancayo.
While the capital region has been spared so far, Castillo justified the curfew by saying that unspecified groups were planning violence to block the movement of trucks into Lima and Callao.
The National Ombudsman’s Office and several politicians – including allies of Castillo – slammed the curfew as unconstitutional and “unenforceable.”
Efe observed Tuesday that many people in the affected area were unaware of the curfew because they went to bed before Castillo announced it.
And while some parts of the capital were practically deserted, RPP radio reported that the Santa Anita Wholesale Market, Lima’s largest, was operating normally at the start of the day.