Peru’s new government has declared a 30-day national state of emergency to quell violent demonstrations that have rocked the country following the ouster and arrest of President Pedro Castillo a week ago.
The measure, announced on Wednesday, suspends the right to assemble and move around the country – and comes just ahead of the Christmas holidays, when people typically travel extensively to visit family.
“With this measure we want to ensure order, the continuity of economic activities and the protection of millions of families,” tweeted Peru’s Defense Minister Luis Otárola after the decision was made in a cabinet meeting. He added the government has not yet decided whether to impose a curfew.
“The National Police, with the support of the Armed Forces, will ensure the control of personal property and, above all, strategic infrastructure, as well as the safety and well-being of all Peruvians throughout the national territory,” he said.
The measure comes after a week of deadly unrest against Peru’s new President Dina Boluarte, with protesters demanding the replacement of all lawmakers and the reinstatement of Castillo, who was ousted after he tried to dissolve Congress and rule by decree to avoid impeachment over corruption allegations .
“First of all, we don’t recognize Dina Boluarte,” said Ronal Carrera, 32, a construction worker wearing his hard hat 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. Now we are demanding his reinstatement.”
At least seven people – five of them teenagers – were killed in clashes with police in the first week. All of them died from gunshot wounds after Amnesty International and national human rights groups were accused of police repression.
“Peru cannot spill blood,” Boluarte said on Wednesday. “We lived through this experience back in the ’80s and ’90s, and I don’t think we want to go back to that painful history.” She was referring to the country’s bloody internal conflict with the guerrilla Shining Path, which has seen nearly 70,000 Peruvians were killed.
Boluarte added that general elections could be scheduled for December 2023. An earlier announcement that Monday’s elections would be brought forward by two years to April 2024 did nothing to calm protests that have paralyzed roads and airports across the country amid widespread vandalism and looting. where police stations, regional prosecutors and tax offices were set on fire.