Peru extends state of emergency in Lima, other regions amid protests


Peru’s government extended a state of emergency in the country’s capital and three other regions Sunday as President Dina Boluarte refused calls to resign amid anti-government protests that have killed at least 47 people, about one-third of whom have died in the last week.

The 30-day order, which follows a now-expired nationwide state of emergency, suspends several constitutional rights, including freedom of transit, freedom of assembly and the right to privacy in the home. The mandate also gives special authority to Peru’s national police and armed forces to seek to restore peace.

In addition to the capital of Lima, the state of emergency applies to the Cusco, Puno and Callao regions, as well as several provinces. Puno, where protesters have stormed an airport and torched a Congress member’s home, is subject to a nighttime curfew.

The protests demanding Boluarte’s resignation and the dissolution of Congress began after her predecessor, leftist Pedro Castillo, tried to dissolve Congress to rule by fiat while facing possible impeachment on corruption charges. Legislators voted to remove him from office, and he was arrested for allegedly “violating the constitutional order.” Boluarte, his vice president, was sworn in to replace him.

Speaking on state television Friday, Boluarte acknowledged protesters’ deaths and apologized for the violence. But she said she would not step down and blamed anti-democratic extremists for the tumult.

“Let it go down in the history books that the first woman to become president had the bravery and the strength to guarantee a transition that was democratic, orderly and free from corruption,” she said in Spanish, adding later: “My commitment is with Peru.”

Discontent, death toll rise as Peru’s poor demand change

Boluarte rejected protesters’ calls for a new constitutional assembly and pointed to Chile’s unsuccessful, years-long attempt to draft a new constitution of its own. She also responded to demonstrators’ demand that Castillo be released by saying his case must play out in the judicial realm.

Castillo, a former teacher and wildcat strike leader, took office in 2021 with a focus on alleviating poverty. He received strong support from Peru’s rural Indigenous people, who viewed him as willing to stand up for the people of the Andes mountain range and the Amazon rainforest.

The country’s Transportation Ministry reopened its international airport in the city of Cusco, near the tourist destination of Machu Picchu, on Saturday after suspending service two days earlier due to safety concerns. Protesters have stormed airports during some of the most intense bursts of conflict, which also stranded thousands of tourists in the ancient Incan city of Machu Picchu this month.

Peruvians are divided on whether police have responded fairly to the uprisings or are worsening the fighting, which caused at least 17 deaths in a 24-hour period last week. While several lawmakers back a harsher response to protesters, human rights groups have accused security forces of using live ammunition. Amnesty International called the response a “disproportionate use of force.”

Peru’s attorney general has announced several investigations into the deaths.

Political upheaval is familiar to Peru, which has had seven presidents in seven years. The result of the warring between groups of lawmakers and successive governments has been hunger, a dire covid-19 outbreak and systemic graft. Half of Peruvians say they no longer support democracy, according to a study from Vanderbilt University and Instituto de Estudios Peruanos.

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