Lima, Peru — Dozens of civilians were shot dead by the military. The gates of the highest public university stormed by military tanks. A police station is on fire.
almost 7 weeks later Dina Boluarte was promoted to president of Peru following her predecessor Chaotic elimination of Pedro Castillothe protests that shook the south of the country displaced, Lima, the capital where they encountered heavy repression.
The question that now runs through the minds of millions of Peruvians is: How will their country overcome this deadly political impasse?
At a press conference on Tuesday, Boruarte called for a “national truce” to engage in “dialogue and agenda-setting” in the country.
However, she used her speech to accuse protesters of failing to organize a “social agenda” and committing violence and destruction, including the use of homemade guns.
“My country is in a violent situation created by politically motivated radical groups,” she said.
Al Jazeera spoke to protesters, political analysts and Peruvian workers about possible solutions to a crisis that has exposed Peru’s deepest problems. social inequality —and scholars warn of a possible slip into authoritarianism.
‘Peru is waking up,’ protesters say
Celia, a potato farmer from the Puno region, cried out in tears and vividly described days of protests, saying the time for dialogue with the Boluarte government had passed. She refused to give her last name for fear of police retaliation.
“After all the blood she spilled from my brothers, [Boluarte] I have to resign,” said Aymara Indigenous Celia. She is one of many protesters from the Peruvian province who have gathered in central Lima to call for reform.
On the way there, she passed police checkpoints, blocked highways all the way from her native Irabe, a Bolivian border village rocked by recent violence, and took a day trip. did
Amidst the hustle and bustle of protesters in the streets of Lima, Celia blamed the government. Indigenous and peasant classes too long.
“Peru is waking up,” she said. “We have been taken advantage of for a long time. If we hadn’t worked hard in the fields, Lima would have starved to death.”
The demands of anti-government demonstrators like Celia once Release of ex-President Castilloin pretrial detention as he is being investigated treasonBut now, protesters are increasingly focused on usurping Boluarte’s seat and calling for new elections and a re-drafting of the 1993 dictator-era constitution.
Rising tensions ‘explode’
Analysts point out that as Castillo’s former vice president, Volarte’s succession to the presidency is constitutionally justified. she swore On the same day, December 7, Castillo was impeached and removed from office.
But her deployment of force against the protesters, coupled with her refusal to recognize the legitimacy of their demands and broadly portraying them as far-left agitators, hinders her ability to build consensus. I got
“She and her government [protesters] Joe Marie Bart, Senior Research Fellow at the nonprofit Washington Office on Latin America, said:
“If she turns her back on people and continues to rule, using repression to keep protesters at bay, it may go on for a while, but at some point it will explode.”
In an attempt to quell protests in Lima last week, the Volarte government emergency announcement It has blocked basic civil liberties, including the right to assembly, in seven regions, including the capital.
Counter-terrorism forces used armored vehicles to ram the gates on Saturday. University of San Marcos to expel about 200 local protesters who were housed inside. It was a show of power akin to a humiliating oppressive tactic. Former President Alberto Fujimoriordered a similar raid on the university in 1991.
The narrative counterbalance is ‘on the street’
Analysts warn that as the Boluarte government resorts to such tactics, the door to dialogue with peaceful protesters is closing.
“Governments have left the possibility of a political solution behind and are instead looking for an authoritarian solution, one that relies on what we call it. Mano Dura [iron-fisted] Paolo Sosa Villagarcía, a political scientist at the Peru Institute, said:
Sosa Villagarcía noted that rather than seeking broader intercultural dialogue, Boruarte instead chose to criminalize the protests and build a governing coalition with former far-right enemies of Congress, the police and the military. .
The political scientist also warned that because national newspapers largely broadcast law and order mantras and the limited research into state violence, few contradict the government’s account of events.
“Right now the only countermeasures against her government are on the streets and they are very repressed,” Sosa Villagarcia said. “I worry that at some point her government will succeed in containing the protesters, after which she will be free to do what she wants.”
A poll this month showed 71% disapproving of Boruarte. A majority of Peruvians believe new elections are the best way forward, as the death toll is likely to rise amid the turmoil.
Faced with public pressure, the deeply divided Peruvian parliament is set to hold a referendum on ratification next month 2024 electionthat would require a constitutional change.
Far-right factions in parliament have already set the terms of the vote, hoping to secure assurances that the government will eliminate independent electoral authorities. This worries observers like Jo-Marie Burt, who see elections as the easiest way out of the growing crisis rather than a panacea.
“I can’t see another path that doesn’t mean more oppression, potential loss of life, extreme instability, deadlock and paralysis,” she said.