Thousands march for 2nd day to demand political overhaul in Peru
Lima, Jan 20 (EFE).- Thousands of Peruvians, many of them indigenous people from the south of the country, marched in this capital for a second consecutive day Friday to demand the resignation of transitional President Dina Boluarte, the dissolution of Congress and the holding of general elections this year.
The demonstrators, who took part Thursday in what organizers called the “taking of Lima,” circulated through the city center in groups.
One large contingent gathered in Dos de Mayo Plaza before approaching the Palace of Justice.
Another group halted their advance when they came upon a police cordon blocking access to Abancay Avenue, where Congress and the Attorney General’s Office are located.
A substantial number of protesters congregated in San Martin Plaza, the epicenter of Thursday’s mobilization and scene of a fire that blazed for hours, destroying a colonial-era building.
Friday’s events unfolded without major incidents, though the presence of marchers and swarms of police on motorcycles snarled traffic as helicopters hovered overhead.
Peru’s national ombud, Eliana Revollar, hailed Thursday’s “peaceful protest,” noting the absence of fatalities.
Forty-four demonstrators and one police officer have died since the unrest began on Dec. 7, when Congress removed elected leftist President Pedro Castillo after he tried to dissolve the legislature and call early elections.
Protests against Boluarte and Congress and in favor of an assembly to draft a new constitution have taken place in 38 percent of Peru’s provinces, Revollar said.
The transport ministry said Friday that demonstrators are blocking roads at 120 different spots across the Andean nation.
Media outlets reported renewed attempts by protesters to seize the airport in Arequipa, Peru’s second city, and the second attack within a week on mine in the Cuzco region owned by Swiss multinational Glencore.
Authorities said that demonstrators set fire to a customs post and a police station in two different towns on the border with Bolivia.
Castillo, a 53-year-old former schoolteacher and union activist with no prior experience in public office, took office in July 2021 after narrowly defeating right-winger Keiko Fujimori, daughter of imprisoned former President Alberto Fujimori.
Hailing from the poor northern region of Cajamarca, he had no allies among the traditional elites in Lima and faced an opposition-controlled Congress that tried to impeach him more than once and repeatedly rejected his nominees for Cabinet posts.
The morning of Dec. 7, Castillo went on national television to announce the dissolution of Congress and plans for a new general election within nine months.
Then-Vice President Boluarte and other members of the Cabinet joined lawmakers in denouncing the action as a coup.
By the end of that day, Boluarte was president and Castillo was behind bars, where he remains, though his wife and children were allowed to take up an offer of asylum in Mexico.
A recent poll by the Institute of Peruvian Studies, an independent research outfit in Lima, found that 71 percent of Peruvians disapprove of Boluarte, while 60 percent view the protests as justified.
And the Peruvian Congress is even more unpopular, with an approval rating of 9 percent, according to the survey results. EFE dub/dr