Anger in rural areas fuel protests against Peru government

ANDAHUAYLAS, Peru (AP) – Peruvians’ anger at their government is not evident in Andahuaylas, a rural Andean community where the poor have struggled for years with the help of voters to elect the now ousted President Pedro Castillo, himself a leader. farmers like them.

Their anger continued their protests on Monday despite the deaths of four people, including two young protesters over the weekend, including 17-year-old Beckham Romario Quispe Garfias.

As thousands of people spilled into the streets, Raquel Quispe remembered her brother as a champion athlete who was tired of being overlooked by politicians. He was named after English footballer David Beckham and Romario, the Brazilian football sensation turned politician.

The clouds above him, he stood outside the hospital where his body was kept, and with anger in his voice, sometimes given by tears, he summarized what pushed him and others to protest since Castillo’s ouster last week: independent democracy.

“For them, those who are there in Congress, the only idea that has power is that Peruvians have money and are rich,” said Quispe, a preschool teacher.

“They will do whatever they want. For them… the election of the governments is not valid, it is irrelevant. But the vote of the people of Lima is considered. This is wrong for everyone of Peru.

About 3,000 people gathered in the streets of Andahuaylas on Monday, to protest, cry and offer their condolences in front of the white coffins of the young men who died over the weekend. Across the community, rocks were strewn across roads still marked by simmering fires. The airstrip used by the military remained black, and black smoke continued to billow over a nearby building.

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Demonstrators across rural communities, including Andahuaylas, continued to call on President Dina Boluarte to resign and to hold elections to replace her and all members of Congress. They also want authorities to free Castillo, who was arrested Wednesday when lawmakers ousted him after he sought to dissolve Congress ahead of an impeachment vote.

While protesters have gathered in Lima, the capital, demonstrations have heated up in the countryside that has been a stronghold for Castillo, a former schoolteacher and political novice from a poor Andean mountain region.

Protesters on Monday took it a step further by blocking access to an international airport for several hours in southern Peru and occupying its runway. Demonstrations in Arequipa, where the airport is located, left one protester dead, Defense Minister Alberto Otarola told lawmakers during a session of Congress focused on the violence a- tribe Another protester killed in the state included Andahuaylas, lawmakers said.

The increase came after Boluarte gave in to protesters’ demands hours earlier, saying in a national statement that he would submit a proposal to Congress to move the elections to April- April 2024 – a reversal of his earlier claim that he would remain president for the rest of his term. 3 1/2 years of the previous year.

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Boluarte, in his address to the nation, also said that there was a sense of panic in the outskirts of Lima, where the protests were very violent.

“My job as the president of the government in this difficult time is to interpret … the aspirations, needs and concerns … of the majority of Peruvians,” Boluarte said in his announcement that he asked early elections to Congress.

Boluarte, 60, was quickly sworn in on Wednesday to replace Castillo, hours after he shocked the country by ordering the dissolution of Congress, which he dismissed for “not being able to hold still.” Castillo was arrested on suspicion of violence.

Members of Boluarte’s council came before the Assembly on Monday to talk about the protests. Jorge Montoya, the far-right lawmaker, called for the necessary measures to end the unrest, telling Castillo’s supporters that now he has been removed “with a closed head.”

“These are not acts of protest, they are acts of terrorism that must be punished,” Montoya said. “You can’t protect a situation that’s too strong.”

Peru has had six presidents in the last six years. In 2020, there are three bikes in a week.

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The new president’s problem is that the Andes and its thousands of small farms are struggling to survive the worst drought in half a century. The country is also facing a fifth wave of COVID-19 cases.

Castillo’s supporters hope an outsider can address some of the challenges they have long faced. But during his 17 months in office, Castillo was unable to achieve a signature campaign and faced racism and discrimination against his poor supporters.

In Andahuaylas, nearly 80% of voters who voted in last year’s election supported Castillo. His demands include rewriting the country’s constitution, which was last drafted and ratified in 1993 during the government of Alberto Fujimori, the former president whose daughter, Keiko, was disgraced and lost the presidency to Castillo.

Rosario Garfias was among those demonstrating outside the hospital where her 17-year-old son’s body was kept. She expressed her grief over the death of her son, who speaks Quechua, one of Peru’s indigenous languages.

“My mother is complaining in her voice. I know that there are many things that he does not understand, even the Congress knows,” said his daughter, Raquel Quispe.

“He’s saying … he’s in a lot of pain because they killed him, like in a slaughterhouse. And my mom, like my family, is asking for justice for my brother.


Garcia Cano spoke from Lima.


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