Thousands of protesters marched through the streets of Peru’s capital, Lima, on Wednesday to protest against the imprisonment and removal of ex-president Pedro Castillo and call for the removal of President Dina Boluarte.
An estimated 21,000 protesters participated in the protest, many of them affiliated with left-wing groups. Protesters reportedly threw rocks and glass bottles at police, who in turn responded by deploying tear gas, which led to six civilians and two police officers being injured.
“We want justice, peace, and calm, and that Boluarte leave immediately,” protester Dionisio Flores told Reuters.
Many have contested the removal and imprisonment of Castillo, claiming that he was unjustly removed after he attempted to dissolve the right-wing-controlled Congress and form a provisional government last December following lawmakers attempts to remove him from office. Congress quickly ousted Castillo and arrested him on sedition and high treason charges.
Protests have been ongoing since March, resulting in a total of 67 deaths, over 600 injuries, and an estimated 380 arrests following a 30-day suspension of some constitutional rights implemented by the government. The suspension included the right to prevent troops from staying within private homes and buildings, the right to freedom of movement, the right to freedom of assembly, and the right to “personal freedom and security.” Not only do these citizens consider Castillo the rightful president, but other nations such as Mexico, Honduras, Argentina, and Colombia have vocalized support for the ousted president.
“The protests may continue tomorrow,” Interior Minister Vicente Romero said during a press conference, noting that some of the protesters are taking part on separate issues and that six protesters have been arrested.
An estimated 24,000 police officers were deployed around the country in order to counter protesters, while transportation authorities have reported that protesters blocked at least eight highways, many of them in the southern Arequipa and Cusco regions.
“We will respect the right of people to protest, but if these turn violent, we will make rational use of force to impose authority,” Lima police chief Roger Perez told reporters.
Jorge Pizarro, a spokesperson for one of the protest organizers, said demonstrators “will not seek a confrontation with the police.
Protesters, however, had set the door of a government building ablaze in the Andean town of Huancavelica. Police doused it and then dispersed the crowd with tear gas.