(Update 2: Adds details of riots, changes headline, lede, edits throughout)
Lima, Apr 5 (EFE).- A protest on Tuesday in the heart of Lima against the curfew ordered by Peruvian President Pedro Castillo, which was later withdrawn, led to an attack on a court building and violent clashes that caused injuries and destruction.
The peaceful march calling for an end to the curfew – which had been ordered to end a week-long truckers’ strike – and Castillo’s administration resulted in clashes between the protesters and police at Abancay Avenue, near the parliament building.
The president of the Supreme Court and of the Judiciary, Elvia Barrios, confirmed on Canal N that the doors of the Superior Court of Justice of the capital were destroyed by protesters, who also tried to set fire to furniture.
They then looted the building, taking away computers, equipment and documents, as Efe was able to verify at the scene.
During the march, some of the protesters tried to reach the Government Palace, the access to which was blocked by the police.
This escalated tensions between the two sides and led to the launching of tear gas by the officers. The demonstrators responded by throwing stones at the police and also at the media.
In some cases, where protesters torched objects on the streets, police officers approached them, hands raised, to ask them to stop the violence.
The police, whose inaction was evident at some points, were unsuccessful in their attempts at dialog, and the most violent demonstrators continued to attack buildings in the area.
Interior Minister Alfonso Chávarry told state broadcaster TV Perú that four officers were injured in clashes and had been taken to hospital.
He also rejected the violence perpetrated by some people who, he said, infiltrated the protests in Lima.
After some tension, peaceful demonstrators moved to the original protest site, the Plaza San Martín, where thousands of people remained into the night and demanded that Castillo end his mandate.
But at the end of the day, the assailants arrived at the plaza, smashed the windows of the BBVA Perú bank and looted a supermarket, taking away liquor bottles, as Efe witnessed.
This was the first looting in Lima in eight days of the truckers’ strike, but during the week minor assaults were recorded in other regions of the country such as Ica and Trujillo.
At 5 pm, Peru’s embattled leftist president had reversed his controversial – and possibly unconstitutional – curfew that he had imposed shortly before midnight on Monday in Lima and Callao, that was supposed to last until 11:59 pm Tuesday.
“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 during a meeting with congressional leaders.
Authorities have an obligation to “protect the lives of all” Peruvians, Castillo said, 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.
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