Berliner TageBlatt - Thousands of protesters expected in Peru's capital

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Thousands of protesters expected in Peru's capital
Thousands of protesters expected in Peru's capital / Foto: © AFP

Thousands of protesters expected in Peru's capital

Thousands of protesters were expected to descend on Peru's capital Lima on Thursday, defying a state of emergency to express their anger with President Dina Boluarte after weeks of unrest.

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One demonstrator was killed on Wednesday in clashes with police in the country's south, raising tensions and bringing the death toll from the protests to 43, according to Peru's human rights ombudsman.

The South American country has been rocked by more than a month of protests, mostly in the southern and eastern areas, since the ouster and arrest of Boluarte's predecessor Pedro Castillo in December.

On Wednesday, a 35-year-old woman was killed in the southern Puno region, according to a hospital statement. At least one other person, a 30-year-old man, was injured in the demonstrations, the statement said.

Thousands of protesters from rural areas are expected to descend on Lima this week to keep up pressure against the government, defying a state of emergency declared to maintain order.

"We are coming to make our voices heard. We are tremendously forgotten," villager Edwin Condori, 43, from the Cusco region, told AFP.

Demonstrators in Lima are expected to call for Boluarte's resignation, the dissolution of parliament and fresh elections.

Although protestors across the country have vowed to meet in the capital, it is difficult to determine how many will arrive.

Counter-protests are already underway in a sign of divisions wracking the country.

One of Peru's biggest labor unions, the General Confederation of Workers, has called a strike for Thursday.

- 'She doesn't represent us' -

On Tuesday, many poor and Indigenous demonstrators made their presence felt in Lima, where police used smoke canisters against marchers who had gathered ahead of larger mobilizations.

Dozens marched through the capital's streets to Plaza San Martin, the historic epicenter of demonstrations.

Boluarte urged protesters flooding into Lima to gather "peacefully and calmly."

"We want Dina Boluarte's resignation. We don't feel that she represents us," said Jesus Gomez, an agricultural engineer from Chumbivilcas in the Cusco region.

"We have come in an organized way to take over Lima, to paralyze Lima, to be heard," he said.

But the president warned protesters that "the rule of law cannot be hostage to the whims" of a single group of people.

"Dina Boluarte should leave because she does not represent the coast, the mountains, or the jungle," said teacher Edith Calixto, 45 from the Andes.

Residents of the northern city of Cajamarca carried signs that read "National Insurgency." Some held "rondero" whips of the type used by local patrols in rural areas.

"Dina, please, resign so that this town calms down because the town is not going to give up," Antonia Riveros, a 55-year-old native of Huancavelica, said.

- Rival protests -

A rival "march for peace" was also underway in Lima, with dozens of members from community groups and political parties wearing white T-shirts in rejection of the protests against Boluarte.

"We do not want violence in our country. I know that now there is a group that disagrees with the current government, but nevertheless it is not the way to carry out a protest," 56-year-old merchant Cesar Noa told AFP.

Protesters have maintained almost 100 roadblocks across Peru.

Castillo was removed from office and arrested on December 7 after attempting to dissolve the country's legislature and rule by decree, amid multiple corruption investigations.

Boluarte, who was Castillo's vice president, succeeded him. But despite Boluarte belonging to the same left-wing party, Castillo supporters have rejected her, even accusing her of being a "traitor."

M.Ouellet--BTB