Contributed by Joe Montero
Since President Pedro Castillo was overthrown blast December by a hostile Congress dominated by an opposition, able to use the constitution imposed on the nation by the dictatorial Alberto Fujimori in 1993, to its advantage, Peru has witnessed an ongoing uprising by a large part of its population.
Castillo was accused of trying to stage a coup and several counts of corruption. He is now in prison. Truth is, it was the Congress that went against policies Castillo was elected on and acted as a break on any change that might go against the privileges of those occupying the benches and those they represent.
Castillo had tried to break this by dissolving the Congress, to open the way to implementing the election promises.
The allegations of corruption are just that, allegations, made by the same people. Congress started an investigation process. The allegations remain unproved.
It was the Congress that staged a coup and keeping the coup in place.
The turmoil has sent the nation into a new political crisis.
Protesters bring country to a standstill after weeks of unrest against the president
Video from Channel 4 News
Huge numbers have been in the streets, demanding immediate elections for the Congress and the return of Castillo as president. They are demanding the resignation of his successor Dina Boluarte, who they regard as a traitor for betraying Castillo and murderer for the deaths since. They are demanding the creation of a constitutional convention to work towards a new constitution.
The crisis will continue, unless there is some movement towards meeting these demands.
At least 58 people have died so far, unarmed people, many shot with live ammunition. The real number is likely to be much higher. Hundreds have been injured. Even some journalists have been attacked by the police, backed by the military.
The uprising shows no signs of running out of steam. Dina Boluarte is vowing to stay in her position, although reeling from the strength of the opposition, she has tried to bring the Congress election forward to this year. The Congress has rejected this and insists on staying on for the full term.
Peru is set for a continuing and worsening crisis.
Protester dies in Lima as Peru’s crisis continues
Video from Al Jazeera English
Although spread across the country, including the capital Lima, a focal point is the Puno province in the Andes country, including the route to the ancient capital Machu Picchu; the regional capital Juliaca; and the nearby Cusco, the second largest city of Peru. These areas are under the effective control of protestors, and in Puno, it is the military that is leading the offensive against them.
Dozens of roads around the country have been blocked, paralysing road and rail transport, sending the economy into a nosedive. Protestors are calling on shops and other businesses to shut their doors. Strikes in support of the uprising have been widespread.
The reaction of the government is to send in more police and military with orders to shoot. On 9 January, after a crowd raided the airport in Juliana, to stop military reinforcements and supplies from landing, 17 were shot dead. The military has still not been able to secure the area.
This is indicative of the determination to keep up the resistance until the demands have been met. The harder the repression, the stronger the will of the protesters to continue.
Running battles in the streets as protestors call for president’s resignation
Video from Channel 4 News
Contrary to claims coming from the government, The President and Congress are lame ducks that have lost control of the situation. This is why Boluarte’s earlier defiance is sliding. At first, she called the demonstrators terrorists and accused them of being in the pay of drug cartels. Now she says she is understanding and promises some changes. But no one trusts her. Many see that she betrayed Castillo and went along with trumped up accusations for personal gain.
Another problem she faces is that the Congress refuses to soften its stand, and this may be paving the way for a military takeover.
It is uncertain that direct military rule will prevail without a new and steeper escalation of repression and bloodshed. Even then, this may not be enough for a population angry enough to stand in the way of bullets.
Anti-government Protests In Peru
Video from WION
Peru is a country where the political system has long been more corrupt than most. The majority of the 20 or so political parties are directly funded by certain business interests that are often integrated with the drug cartels.
Furthermore, they are based on a European descendant elite that enjoys all the privileges, leaving the majority of the population, which is mostly indigenous and of mixed ancestry, and the poorest in the continent.
They have had enough.