Peru has experienced some of the worst political violence that the Latin American country has seen in more than two decades. Anti-government protests and riots have ravaged Peru’s capital of Lima and spread across the country like wildfire.
Former Peruvian President Pedro Castillo was ousted after the far-left socialist politician was impeached for attempting to illegally dissolve the Congress of Peru. Castillo’s ousting sparked the Peruvian political protests in Lima on Dec. 7. Left-leaning organizations and citizens revolted against Dina Boluarte being installed as Castillo’s replacement. Protesters are also demanding better living conditions.
“We have delinquent ministers, presidents that murder, and we live like animals in the middle of so much wealth that they steal from us every day,” said farmer-turned-protester Samuel Acero. “We want Dina Boluarte to leave; she lied to us.”
The protests escalated this week when rioters set fire to historical buildings in Lima.
Demonstrators flooded into Lima – many from rural areas – to protest Boluarte, as well as protesters who were killed during previous protests.
The Peruvian government deployed 11,800 police officers to Lima to quell the unrest.
Police have used tear gas against the protesters. Authorities claim that rioters are using homemade explosives.
Demonstrators argue that law enforcement is using deadly force against protesters. There have reportedly been 54 protesters killed during the demonstrations. The Interior Ministry said 22 police officers and 16 civilians were injured during Thursday’s violence.
Armored vehicles were seen ramming down a gate at the National University of San Marcos in Lima – the oldest and longest continuously operating university in the Americas. Police cracked down on a protest at the university, and arrested demonstrators.
Anti-government protests have erupted across Peru, including in the cities of Arequipa, Cusco, Ilave, and Juliaca. The government enacted a state of emergency in six regions.
“It’s nationwide chaos, you can’t live like this. We are in a terrible uncertainty, the economy, vandalism,” Lima resident Leonardo Rojas told Reuters.
On Saturday, Peru was forced to shut down the popular tourist attraction of Machu Picchu “due to the social situation and to preserve the safety of visitors” and the general public. Approximately 400 people, including 300 tourists, are stranded at Machu Picchu.
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