State of Emergency Declared in Peru as Protests Continue

State of Emergency Declared in Peru as Protests Continue

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Peruvian officials have ordered a nationwide state of emergency as protests in support of ousted President Pedro Castillo continue to intensify following his removal from power last week.

On December 7, President Castillo dissolved the country’s Congress to avoid a third impeachment attempt by opposition officials for allegations of corruption, which he denies. The Peruvian Congress went on with the vote to impeach Castillo despite his order and would later swear in Vice President Dina Boluarte as the new president. Peru’s military and police rejected Castillo’s attempt to retain power, saying they would protect the country’s constitutional order. Castillo was apprehended by Peruvian authorities later in the day when he attempted to flee the Presidential Palace to what was suspected to be the Mexican embassy to seek asylum.

After Castillo’s removal, his supporters took to the streets calling for his release while other demonstrations called for new elections to be held, arguing that Boluarte was not elected by the people. Demonstrations have largely been centralized in the capital of Lima and the city of Andahuaylas, where protests have deteriorated into fatal clashes with authorities. Meanwhile, protestors in Andahuaylas temporarily seized the city’s airport last Friday, setting fires to buildings and forcing it to close until further notice. According to Peruvian officials, protests have involved some 8,000 people nationwide, however, it appears to be gaining traction.

Peruvian Minister of Defense Alberto Otarola announced that a “A state of emergency has been declared for the whole country [for 30 days], due to the acts of vandalism and violence, the seizure of highways and roads, which are stabilizing,” adding that the situation requires “a forceful and authoritative response.” The state of emergency will suspend rights to assembly and movement, as well as allow authorities to search homes without a judicial order. So far a curfew has not been set, but is likely to happen if protests continue to intensify.

In response to the protests, Boluarte announced on Wednesday that elections would be held in 2023 and called for peace as “Peru cannot overflow with blood.” She added that “The only thing I can tell you sisters and brothers (is) to keep calm. We have already lived through this experience in the 80s and 90s, and I believe that we do not want to return to that painful history.” Her last sentence was in reference to the Shining Path conflict, which left 70,000 dead.