Ministers resign amid deadly protests – DW – December 16, 2022

Two ministers in Peru’s already embattled government resigned on Friday after suffering multiple deaths during protests sparked by the ouster of former President Pedro Castillo last week.

Education Minister Patricia Correa and Culture Minister Jair Perez both named the deaths in their announcements.

“This morning I submitted my letter of resignation from the Office of the Secretary of Education. The death of compatriots has no justification. State violence must not be disproportionate and result in death,” Correa said.

The resignations came because Congress failed to pass constitutional reform that would bring the presidential election forward to December 2023.

Why are people protesting in Peru?

Protesters took to the streets after Congress voted to remove Castillo, who took office last year when he tried to dissolve the parliamentary body and said he would rule by decree instead.

He was arrested and replaced by his Vice President, Dina Boluarte, who was sworn in on December 7th.

Castillo faces six corruption investigations and was close to his third impeachment attempt. The ex-president denies the allegations.

Peru’s ousted president remains in custody

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Protesters have closed airports and highways across the country, particularly in the rural south. This has impacted tourist attractions like Machu Picchu.

“5,000 tourists are stranded in the city of Cusco, waiting in their hotels for flights to restart,” the city’s mayor, Darwin Baca, told AFP.

The attempted coup and subsequent fall of Castillo is just the latest episode in Peru’s political turmoil, in which several leaders have been indicted and arrested for corruption.

The death toll is increasing

The protests continued on Friday despite a nationwide emergency being declared on Wednesday and at least 22 people have been killed so far, half of whom were killed in clashes with security forces in the town of Ayacucho on Thursday.

The Health Ministry also said on Friday that more than 60 people remain in hospital.

The United Nations, meanwhile, expressed “deep concern” at the death toll and reports of minors being arrested for protesting.

Peru declares a state of emergency over unrest

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Call for new elections

These latest protests were sparked by a Supreme Court decision to keep Castillo in pre-trial detention for up to 18 months pending an investigation into charges of “rebellion and conspiracy”.

The protesters also called for the resignation of Boluarte – she was a member of Castillo’s party until she was expelled earlier this year – and new elections.

Although Boluarte said she would move elections forward from 2026 to December 2023, Congress rejected a constitutional amendment that would allow that. Left-wing parties said they would support an amendment only if it included broader constitutional reform.

A two-thirds majority of 87 votes was required to accept the motion; 49 were in favour, 33 against and 25 abstained.

zc, ab/msh (Reuters, AFP, AP, EFE)

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