Peru’s new government has declared a 30-day state of national emergency to crack down on violent demonstrations that have rocked the country since the ouster and arrest of President Pedro Castillo a week ago.
The measure announced on Wednesday suspends the right to assemble and move freely across the country and comes just before the Christmas holidays, when people typically travel a lot to visit family.
“With this measure, we seek to ensure order, the continuity of economic activities and the protection of millions of families,” Peruvian Defense Minister Luis Otárola tweeted after the decision was made at a cabinet meeting. . He added that the government has not decided whether to impose a curfew.
“The national police with the support of the armed forces will ensure nationwide control of personal property and, above all, strategic infrastructure and the safety and well-being of all Peruvians,” he said.
The move comes after a week of deadly rioting against Peru’s new president, Dina Boluarte, with protesters demanding the replacement of all lawmakers and the reinstatement of Castillo, who was forced out after trying to dissolve congress and to rule by decree in an effort to avoid impeachment on corruption charges.
“First of all, we don’t recognize Dina Boluarte,” said Ronal Carrera, 32, a helmet-wearing construction worker who had traveled from Junín in Peru’s central Andes to demonstrate in the capital, Lima. “She is a coup leader, to this day our president is Pedro Castillo. We now ask for her reinstatement.”
At least seven people, five of them teenagers, were killed in clashes with police in the first week. All of them died of gunshot wounds amid allegations of police crackdowns by Amnesty International and national human rights groups.
“Peru cannot overflow with blood,” Boluarte said on Wednesday. “We already had this experience in the 80s and 90s, and I think we don’t want to go back to that painful history.” He was referring to the country’s bloody internal conflict with the Sendero Luminoso guerrillas in which nearly 70,000 Peruvians were killed.
Boluarte added that a general election could be scheduled for December 2023. An earlier announcement on Monday that elections would be brought forward by two years to April 2024 did nothing to appease the protests, which paralyzed roads and airports across the country amid vandalism and widespread looting, in which commissariats, regional prosecutors and tax offices were set on fire.