Protests erupt again in Peru after holiday break, with many demonstrators demanding the impeachment of new president Dina Boluarte.
Anti-government demonstrations and roadblocks have resumed in Peru after a two-week break as the South American country continues to reel after last month’s impeachment. arrest and detention of former president Pedro Castillo.
Peruvian protesters on Wednesday used stones and burning tires to block main routes in the southern regions of Puno, Cusco, Apurimac and Arequipa, as well as Junin, a department in the center of the country.
The crowd chanted for the removal of President Dina Boluartewho took over on December 7 after the country’s opposition Congress voted overwhelmingly to remove Castillo.
Castillo, a former rural school teacher and labor leader who assumed office in July 2021was deposed after attempting to dissolve the legislature and rule by decree – a move widely condemned as an attempted coup.
He was arrested shortly after the impeachment vote and has been ordered to stay indoors imprisonment for 18 months on charges of rebellion and conspiracy, which Castillo has denied.
The removal of the left leader followed months of escalating tensions with the Peruvian Congress over corruption allegations. It led to demonstrations across the country, especially in rural areas where Castillo gets much of his support.
In addition to Boluarte’s removal, the protesters are also demanding the closure of Congress — which has a high disapproval rate — along with amendments to the constitution and Castillo’s release from prison.
The new government has agreed to this advance elections scheduled for 2026 to April next year – another key demand from the protesters – but many want the vote to take place even earlier.
As demonstrations died down over the holiday season, representatives of civil society groups and unions from 10 historically left-wing regions in southern Peru announced their resumption on Wednesday.
“There are 10 blockades, mainly around Puno,” government spokesman Alberto Otarola told reporters in the capital Lima, where a crisis center had been set up.
As a precaution, train services between the city of Cusco and the historic site of Machu Picchu were suspended indefinitely on Tuesday. Some 2,000 tourists were escorted out of the tourist destination. During the first wave of protests, thousands were stranded in the area after transportation was disrupted.
In mid-December, Boluarte’s government declared a 30-day period, nationwide emergencysuspending certain civil liberties and allowing the deployment of police and military forces to stop the demonstrations.
Television footage on Wednesday showed police and military guarding the headquarters of public institutions in areas where protests were announced, including Ayacucho, which has been a center of the recent unrest.
In a speech from Lima, Boluarte called again for a return to tranquility.
She blamed the protests for “delays, pain, economic losses” and urged “peace, calm, unity to promote the development of the homeland”.
But in the mountainous Apurimac region, protest leader Milan Knezvich said the battle will continue. “No one will want to talk to her. So long Mrs. Dina Boluarte don’t leave, this will continue,” he told Exitosa radio.
On Tuesday, thousands of people marched in Lima and elsewhere to demand “peace and tranquility”. The country’s human rights ombudsman has said 22 people have been killed in protest-related clashes so far and more than 600 people have been injured.