- Peru was rocked by new protests against President Dina Boluarte.
- Former president Pedro Castillo was impeached and arrested.
- Police used tear gas to break up protests.
After a fortnight-long break, Peruvians took to the streets again on Wednesday, blocking roads nationwide to demand the resignation of President Dina Boluarte, who took over from her ousted predecessor in December.
Protesters used stones and burning tires to barricade main routes in the southern regions of Puno, Cusco, Apurimac and Yekepa, as well as Junin in the centre, chanting for Boluarte to leave.
In the capital Lima, police dispersed dozens of demonstrators with tear gas as they tried to reach Congress, while in Yekepa, officers used tear gas to break up hundreds of protesters.
Boluarte took over on 7 December as the South American country’s first woman president following the impeachment and arrest of Pedro Castillo after he tried to dissolve Congress and rule by decree.
Castillo, a leftist former rural school teacher and union leader, faced vehement opposition from Congress during his 18 months in office, and had been the subject of numerous criminal investigations into allegations of widespread graft.
His ouster sparked nationwide protests, with Peru’s rights ombudsman reporting 22 people killed in clashes and more than 600 injured.
Boluarte’s government declared a 30-day nationwide state of emergency, while she attempted to calm the uproar by seeking to bring forward elections.
The demonstrations died down over the holiday period, but by Wednesday the protesters had remobilised.
“There are 10 blockades, mainly around Puno,” government spokesman Alberto Otarola told reporters in Lima, where a crisis center was erected.
According to the ombudsman, 30 of the country’s 195 provinces have been affected.
As a precaution, train service between the town of Cusco and the Inca citadel of Mach Picchu, a major tourist draw, was suspended indefinitely on Wednesday, PeruRail said in a statement.
The move came after some 2,000 tourists were evacuated from the site, according to police.
“The airports are functioning normally,” said Otarola.
In the first wave of protests, thousands of tourists found themselves stranded at Machu Picchu and Cusco for days due to road, railway and airport blockades.
Public buildings and airports expecting protests were being guarded by police and soldiers deployed under the state of emergency.
From Lima, Boluarte called on Wednesday for an end to the protests she blamed for “delays, pain, economic losses” and appealed instead for “peace, calm, unity to promote development of the homeland”.
Protest leader Milan Knezvich, in the mountainous Apurimac region, vowed the struggle would continue.
He told Exitosa radio:
No one would want to talk to her. As long as Mrs. Dina Boluarte does not resign, this will continue.
The new government has agreed to bring forward elections set for 2026 to April 2024, but many want voting to happen even sooner.
On Tuesday, marches were held in various parts of Peru against the planned restart of the anti-Boluarte protests.
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