The Stream

Peru protests: Can the divide be bridged?

On Monday, January 23 at 19:30 GMT:
Demonstrators in Peru are intensifying their call for the country’s president to resign, amid widespread anger over the killing of dozens of people at protests opposing the removal of her predecessor.

Thousands of people have rallied in the capital Lima in recent days, demanding that Dina Boluarte step down. Police used tear gas to repel some protesters.

The demonstrations began in Peru’s southern Andean regions in December, when Congress removed Pedro Castillo from office after he tried to govern by decree. He was later arrested on rebellion and conspiracy charges, and remains in pre-trial detention.

At least 45 people have been killed as police and soldiers try to put down the protests supporting Castillo. The UN and human rights organisations say security forces have used disproportionate force against the protesters. Lima and two southern regions remain under a state of emergency, with rights to privacy and freedom of assembly suspended.

The protesters are also angry that Boluarte, who was vice president before Castillo’s removal, introduced a centre-right cabinet favourable to Congress soon after she became president. They say Congress is not representative of marginalised and impoverished communities in the south and that Boluarte has effectively abandoned Castillo, a former teacher and union leader who was elected president in mid-2021 on a wave of support from rural Indigenous voters.

As Boluarte refuses to step down, protesters are also seeking Castillo’s release, immediate elections, the closure of Congress, and major constitutional change. Counterdemonstrators are dismissing those calls, another sign of the entrenched political and social divisions in a country that has had six presidents in five years.

In this episode of The Stream, we’ll look at what’s behind the divisions in Peru and what lies ahead for the country.

In this episode of The Stream, we are joined by:
Mariana Sanchez, @MarSanAiz
Correspondent, Al Jazeera English

Renzo Aroni,
Lecturer, Department of Anthropology, Columbia University

Eduardo Gonzalez Cueva, @elfjcgc
Human rights consultant