Twelve dead after clashes between protesters in southern Peru

Clashes between law enforcement and protesters against the government of President Dina Boluarte left twelve dead this Monday in Juliaca, in southern Peru, reported the Ombudsman’s Office.

“We have confirmed 12 deaths today in Puno, during clashes with law enforcement in the vicinity of the Juliaca airport,” a source from the Ombudsman’s Office in Lima told AFP.

The victims had projectile impacts on their bodies, explained a health official from the Carlos Monge hospital, where they were transferred, in statements to the N television channel. The Ministry of Health reported 38 injuries.

“What is happening is a massacre among Peruvians, I ask you to calm down, do not expose yourselves,” exclaimed the mayor of Juliaca, Oscar Cáceres, in a desperate appeal to the population through La Decana radio station of that town.

With these, the deaths during the anti-government demonstrations amount to 34 in almost a month of protests.

The violent protests took place during an attempt to occupy the airport in the city of Juliaca, located 1,300 km south of Lima, in the Puno region.

The aerodrome is under police and military protection. A similar takeover attempt had occurred on Saturday.

“The policemen were shooting at us (…) we ask that Mrs. Dina (Boluarte) resign (…) accept that the people do not love you,” a protester told AFP.

While the country is plunged into a serious institutional and political crisis with demonstrations and road blockades, the Boluarte government prohibited the entry of former Bolivian president Evo Morales into Peru until further notice for “intervening” in the country’s internal political affairs. .

“The record of the impediment to entry into the country was ordered, through all immigration checkpoints, of nine citizens of Bolivian nationality, including Mr. Juan Evo Morales Ayma,” said the Ministry of the Interior.

Morales has expressed his support for the protests against the Boluarte government, which broke out after the dismissal and arrest of his predecessor Pedro Castillo.

Puno, the Peruvian Aymara region bordering Bolivia, has become the epicenter of the protests with an indefinite strike since January 4.

From there, a march to the Peruvian capital is organized that should arrive around January 12, according to various calls from social groups, which mainly bring together peasants.

Separate Peru?

The announcement against Morales coincides with new protests and road blockades in six of the country’s 25 regions, where protesters are demanding the resignation of Boluarte, the calling of a Constituent Assembly and the freedom of ousted President Pedro Castillo.

“In recent months, foreign citizens of Bolivian nationality have been identified who entered the country to carry out activities of a proselytizing political nature, which constitutes a clear affectation of our immigration legislation, national security and the internal order of Peru” , added the ministry to justify the decision.

Morales, who presided over Bolivia between 2006 and 2019, has had an active presence in Peruvian politics since the leftist former president Castillo came to power in July 2021 until his dismissal on December 7. In November he visited Puno.

Castillo was ousted after a failed coup and is serving 18 months in prison handed down by a judge accused of rebellion.

Morales regretted on Twitter the decision of the Peruvian government to prevent him from entering and maintained that the measure seeks to “distract and avoid” the responsibilities for the “serious violations” of human rights.

The Peruvian authorities maintain that Morales intends to divide the territory of Peru, promoting secession through the creation of “Runasur”, an Andean region that would supposedly include part of the Peruvian Andean south with Bolivia.

«The only separatism in Peru is caused by racism, exclusion and discrimination of the power groups of Lima against their own people. Deep down, the right does not accept that the indigenous, those vilified for their skin color, last name or place of origin, come to power,” Morales replied over the weekend.

Last year, the right-wing-controlled parliament declared Morales persona non grata.

The prohibition of her entry into Peru was demanded by Congress, which had become the main point of support for Dina Boluarte.

short truce

The protests against the Boluarte government resumed on January 4, after a brief truce for the end-of-year holidays.

The protesters maintained this Monday roadblocks in six of the 24 departments of the country, including tourist areas such as Puno, on the shores of Lake Titicaca; Cusco, Arequipa, Madre de Dios, Tacna and Apurimac.

The police station in the city of Puno woke up with a barricade of bags of dirt and a police guard, as a precaution against the demonstrations in that highland city.

In anticipation of possible attacks, the Ministry of Transportation suspended operations at the Alfredo Mendívil airport in Ayacucho on Tuesday before the start of a 48-hour strike.

Although she considers herself to be on the left, Boluarte is seen as a “traitor” by the communities and militants who support Castillo. The right-wing sectors that previously promoted her fall now support her.

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Twelve dead after clashes between protesters in southern Peru