Protesters in the Peruvian capital, Lima, have clashed with riot police as they demonstrated against what they
said were President Ollanta Humala’s unkept promises on schools and jobs.
Clashes broke out on Saturday when thousands of people tried to march towards the Congress building. They were met by about 500 riot police and hundreds of plainclothes officers who blocked their way.
Riot police fired tear gas and water cannon to drive back demonstrators.
Lima police chief General Luis Praeli said 15 people were arrested during the unrest, on the eve of Independence Day celebrations.
The crowds of demonstrators included a mix of university students, union workers, government employees and political opponents of the current government.
“The citizens, trade unions, youth are expressing our opposition and our grievance against the policies of the government of Humala, a government that promised a series of changes, a series of reforms and all he has done in these two years of government is not fulfil them,” said protester Javier Torres.
The country’s largest union confederation, CGTP, had called on Peruvians to turn out in force.
In addition to a national doctors’ and nurses strike, Humala faces unions calling for a rethinking of a new law they fear will force the government to lay off huge numbers of state workers.
Students, meanwhile, are upset about a bill in the legislature that they fear will undercut the autonomy of universities.
Humala’s approval rating is now at 33 percent, his lowest since taking office.
Anti-government demonstrations began in early July against proposed laws seeking to reform government bureaucracy and universities.
They intensified when parliament appointed 10 officials – some of them controversial – to form part of three important independent government agencies.
The appointments were eventually revoked due to public outcry.