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Police in Perú kill more protesters resisting coup

By Jim Byrne

Perú protest against the coup.

Tucson, AZ – On December 7, a month of people’s protests was kicked off when democratically-elected President Pedro Castillo, a former union educator and strike leader, was arrested by Peruvian armed forces in a coup by the oligarchy-dominated Congress. Peruvians, from indigenous groups to trade unions, immediately responded with waves of protests, marches and roadblocks. Following the orders of the coup plotters, the military and police cracked down violently on the protests, including firing on protesters from helicopters with bullets and teargas. A loosely agreed-upon truce before the holidays stopped the brutal repression, with the death toll having reached over two dozen with hundreds wounded.

With no resolution, many social movements gathered in the city of Arequipa in southern Perú to hold a people’s congress to establish demands and plans to reignite the protests in a national strike that started on January 4. Once again, the armed forces brutalized the people as they attacked protesters who took over an airport. In Juliaca, a city in the region of Puno, police forces killed 17 and injured dozens. The governor of Puno declared three days of mourning to honor the martyrs. There are reports from doctors who are concerned that the police are using exploding rounds as the victims’ bodies do not have typical entrance and exit wounds. There are small explosive damages inside the bodies that signify a brutal mindset by the police.

While the narrative of the right-wing press and government claim protesters are committing acts of vandalism, according to trade unionist Cristiano Mayta, “it is in fact the police who are causing damage to stores and buildings in an attempt to blame it on the people.”

The four demands of the social movements are that Dina Boluarte step down as president; shut down the Congress; create a popular assembly to rewrite the constitution, and the immediate release of illegally arrested President Pedro Castillo.

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