Peru erupts in fierce protest as anger flares over political crises

Peru erupts in fierce protest as anger flares over political crises
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LIMA, Dec 13 (Reuters) – As Peru drifts from one political crisis to another, the country has erupted in protests, with at least seven dead in the past week and smoke from fires and tear gas wafting over the streets of the city. city. An exit seems far away.

The spark for the current unrest was the removal and arrest of the leftist leader pedro castle after he tried dissolve congress illegally It followed a months-long standoff in which lawmakers indicted him three times, the last time removing him from office.

Peru has been one of the economic stars of Latin America in the 21st century, with strong growth that has lifted millions of people out of poverty. But political turmoil increasingly threatens to derail its economic stability, with ratings agencies sale warning, locks impacting the main mines in the world no. 2 copper producer and protesters demanding the resignation of Congress and the new president Dina Boluarte.

For those looking closely, it should come as little surprise. Voters are fed up with the constant political infighting that has seen six presidents in the past five years and seven impeachment attempts.

The highly fragmented, unicameral Congress is loathed, with an approval rating of just 11%, according to pollster Datum. That is below that of Castillo, who despite a series of corruption accusations was 24% just before he was ousted.

“The Peruvian people are exhausted by all the political machinations, crime, uncertainty and stagnant growth,” said Eric Farnsworth, vice president of the Council of the Americas and the Americas Society.

Said of Boluarte promise Holding early elections in April 2024 might help calm things down in the short term, but that would not solve the entrenched problems of a divided electorate and infighting between the presidency and Congress.

“It is a toxic soup, with a weak president, a dysfunctional Congress, the ousted president seeking to generate popular resistance to his legitimate removal, an agitated population and little vision from anyone on how to get out of this mess.”

Peru’s constitution makes it relatively easy for a disgruntled legislature to initiate impeachment proceedings, while the lack of dominant political parties (the largest, Fuerza Popular, controls just 24 of 130 seats) means there is little agreement on the land. Corruption has also been a frequent problem.

The only way many Peruvians feel they can make their voices heard is on the street. In recent days, protesters have blocked roads, set fires and even seized airports. The police have been criticized by human rights groups for their use of firearms and tear gas. Seven people have died on the permit, mostly teenagers.

There are echoes of the 2020 protests, when thousands took to the streets following the ouster and removal of popular centrist leader Martín Vizcarra, who was succeeded by congressional leader Manuel Merino. After two died, he too was forced to resign.

Castillo, less popular but with a support base in rural regions that helped him narrowly win elections last year, has sought to stir things up from jail, where he is being held while investigating charges of rebellion and conspiracy.

On Monday he called Boluarte, his former vice president, a “usurper” in a letter written to the Peruvian people where he claimed to remain the legitimate leader of the country.

“What a usurper said recently is nothing more than the same snot and drool of the coup right,” he wrote, adding a call – very popular among a younger generation of Peruvians – for a new constitution.

“The people should not fall for their dirty games of new elections. Enough of the abuses! Constituent Assembly now! Immediate freedom!” he wrote.

Boluarte, a former member of Castillo’s far-left party who fell out with its leader and criticized Castillo after his attempt to dissolve Congress, has called for calm across the country and promised a government of all colors. But he faces a harsh realitycaught between protesters and a hostile parliament.

With Peru’s recent history plagued by impeachment and jails, it’s questionable whether Boluarte can hold out until new leaders are brought out.

“Dina Boluarte is a murderer. Five people have died and they don’t say anything. She doesn’t care about anything, she is shameless, a betrayer,” said Guadalupe Huamán, a Castillo supporter protesting with a Peruvian flag and helmet in Lima.

Cutting the outlook for Peru to negative and threatening a possible downgrade, ratings agency S&P said in a report on Monday there appeared to be little hope.

“The way in which Peru’s most recent power shift occurred reflects further political stalemate and increases future risks,” he said.

Farnsworth expressed similar concerns. Although Peru had a volatile political record, it was not clear how things would play out this time, he said.

“I think this time it’s somewhat different,” he said. “There seems to be no real way forward.”

Reporting by Marco Aquino and Adam Jourdan, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Adam Jourdan

Thomson Reuters

Head of the regional office in South Latin America with previous experience leading corporate news coverage in China and as an independent film director and producer.

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