Protests over Peru’s political crisis continue around the country

LIMA, Peru (AP) – Thousands of protesters took to the streets around Peru for another day Sunday to demand the resignation of new President Dina Boluarte and plan elections to replace her and Congress, with at least two deaths reported amid the protests .

Many of those demonstrating in the ongoing political crisis are demanding the release of Pedro Castillo, the center-left president. set aside Wednesday by lawmakers after he tried to dissolve Congress ahead of an impeachment vote.

Hundreds of people also protested in Lima, the capital, where riot police used tear gas to push back protesters.

The protests that rocked Peru were heating up, particularly in rural areas, strongholds for Castillo, a former schoolteacher and political novice from a poor Andes mountain district. Demonstrators set fire to a police station, vandalized a small airport used by the armed forces and marched in the streets.

A 15-year-old boy died from an injury sustained during a protest in the Andean region of Andahuaylas, Congresswoman Maria Taipe Coronado said as she made an impassioned plea from the Legislative Palace for Boluarte to step down.

“The death of this countryman is Ms. Dina’s responsibility for not submitting her resignation,” charged Taipe, who is affiliated with the party that helped Castillo and Boluarte to their elections last year as president and vice president, respectively, before both were kicked out. of that party. “Since when is protesting a crime?”

Taipe charged that authorities used heavy-handed repressive tactics to quell demonstrations. But it remains unclear how the boy was fatally wounded, and state media reported another death in the same community without providing details.

Anthony GutiƩrrez, director of a local hospital, told a radio station that the other protester who died was an 18-year-old. At least 26 people were also reported injured.

Boluarte, 60, was quickly sworn in midweek to replace Castillo, hours after he stunned the country by ordering the dissolution of Congress, which in turn dismissed him for “permanent moral incapacity.” Castillo was arrested accused of sedition.

Castillo’s failed move against the opposition-led Congress came hours before lawmakers were to launch a third impeachment trial against him.

Scattered protests around the country have continued for days.

On Saturday in Andahuaylas, 16 people were treated for concussions in a hospital, and one of these people was reported in serious condition.

Boluarte has called for a time of national unity to heal from the recent upheaval.

“No Peruvian’s life deserves to be sacrificed for political interests,” Boluarte tweeted Sunday after Taipe’s speech to Congress. “I express my condolences for the death of a citizen in Andahuaylas. I repeat my call for dialogue and to put an end to violence.”

Meanwhile, in Lima, hundreds of people gathered again outside the Legislative Palace on Sunday. Dozens of riot police officers fired tear gas at the crowd as lawmakers just inside the building began a session. Police also chased and beat protesters as they ran from the scene amid clouds of gas.

Prime Minister Pedro Angulo said Boluarte’s cabinet would meet Sunday evening to evaluate the civil unrest and decide how to respond.

Peru has had six presidents in the past six years, including three in a single week in 2020, when Congress flexed its powers of impeachment.

The power struggle in the country continues as the Andean region and its thousands of small farms struggle to survive the worst drought in half a century. The country of more than 33 million people is also experiencing a fifth wave of COVID-19 infections – after recording around 4.3 million infections and 217,000 deaths since the pandemic began.

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