Last Friday, hundreds of Peruvian citizens blocked the Central Highway, a key access road to the capital Lima, as part of a series of nationwide protests against the government of interim President Dina Boluarte and members of Parliament. Protesters, who have been demanding Boluarte’s resignation and the calling of early elections, placed stones and tires on the road, leading to its partial closure. Police arrived an hour later and used tear gas to disperse the protesters, who fled through the streets of the nearby slum of Huaycan.
This latest episode of protests comes after police dispersed demonstrators in Lima’s historic center the day before. Protests in this area have been banned since mid-February by a law of the capital’s municipality, led by conservative mayor Rafael Lopez. The law declares the historic center an “intangible zone” for the development of demonstrations and seeks to restore “peace and tranquility” to the city’s streets.
Since Boluarte took office in December 2021, after Congress ousted his predecessor Pedro Castillo, protests have been frequent throughout the country. The protests, which began in Peru’s southern Puno region, have spread to the capital and have been led largely by low-income and Andean citizens. The government has shelved several bills to bring forward the elections, which has generated frustration among the protesters, who continue to demand political changes and the calling of early elections.
According to the Ombudsman’s Office, the protests have left a toll of 60 deaths, mostly demonstrators, with 48 victims of direct confrontations with security forces. The State Department’s Assistant Secretary for Latin America, Brian Nichols, has urged the Peruvian government and Parliament to reach an agreement to move forward with calling elections and restoring confidence in Peruvian democracy.
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