The return of protests in Peru: the government of Dina Boluarte invokes the "legitimate use of force" | International

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The stamp of the forces of order in Peru in recent days is that of the Immigration Police, stationed at the main accesses to Lima, asking Peruvians from the regions for documents as if they were foreigners in their own country. In another scene, they have been seen forming massive battalions that run through various avenues of the capital to show off their power, although the uniformed men maintain that they are only practicing for the military civic parade of National Holidays. The third takeover of Lima, a march announced for Wednesday, July 19, will mark the return of social mobilizations and the government of President Dina Boluarte has already shown signs of fear and concern.

Since mid-June, the President of the Republic, her ministers and the Armed Forces have issued a speech to delegitimize the protests that range from economic reasons to insisting on the ghost of the terruqueo, that political device that seeks, without evidence, to endorse political adversaries with affinity for terrorist practices and that, according to historian José Carlos Agüero, "alienates people and makes them vulnerable to bullets." The escalation began with a phrase that will surely be part of the anthology of Dina Boluarte in the Palace: “How many more deaths do they want? For the love of God!” she said during a visit from her Ecuadorian counterpart, Guillermo Lasso.

Then it was the turn of the Minister of the Interior, Vicente Romero, who has minimized the indignation of the streets, with an argument that the business community also defends: that the economy should not stop. “More than 90% of the population wants to work. There are organizations that are behind this new takeover of Lima, but the population itself no longer responds. For his part, Jorge Chávez, head of Defense, has resorted to the moral taste of the population to predict his failure: "I am convinced that good citizens are not going to lend themselves to it."

The high command of the National Police have been more radical: on the one hand, they point out that the change to the Constitution is a demand that originally arose from the terrorist group Sendero Luminoso and on the other, they instill fear in those who will express their discontent next week, assuring that they will have infiltrated the mob. “The change in the Constitution, to make it clear, comes out of Sendero. They have been coining that phrase in people's minds. Today many people are demanding it, but they don't know where that comes from," said José Zavala, head of the Directorate against Terrorism (Dircote). In turn, Óscar Arriola, head of the Criminal Investigation Directorate (Dirincri), has communicated his certainties without blinking: “Be very careful for those who are at your side, because the participation of members of Sendero Luminoso has already been proven. . It's not terruqueo, We say it with a lot of professionalism”.

A campaign is circulating on social networks that echoes these statements under the motto “this 19 caps your terruco. Help your National Police”. In the poster they urge to film and photograph "all the rioters, terrorists, destroyers of state property and private property." But it's also about resources. The transfer of 12.2 million soles (about 3.4 million dollars) from the Ministry of Economy and Finance to the Armed Forces was recently approved to "promote economic recovery." According to the weekly Hildebrandt in his Thirteen, It is "an economic injection to pay for the services provided in the operations related to the marches."

From the Apurímac region, sociologist Roberto Huaraca Altamirano, delegate of the Unified National Committee for the Fight of Peru (CONULP), one of the organizations that will join the march, maintains that the terruqueo It has an end: for the State to justify crimes. “You cannot kill just like that, the perfect justification is that they are terrorists. Now, in real life does that presence exist? No. Sendero was defeated in the nineties. And if there are still remnants in the jungle, it is because the State needs them. But they have no ideology and are dedicated to drug trafficking, ”he maintains.

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According to the Ombudsman's Office, the upheaval in the first months of Dina Boluarte's term left 49 civilians dead in clashes with law enforcement, another 11 civilians who died due to roadblocks, and seven soldiers and one police officer who lost their lives in the context of the conflict. Even with the loss of 68 lives and lapidary reports from international organizations such as the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, this government has remained standing despite the clamor of the citizenry for an early general election. Perhaps that is the only request in which the opposition agrees: that Boluarte remove the presidential ribbon and be tried for her political responsibility as supreme commander of the Armed Forces, along with those involved.

There is no single agenda on the streets. What's more, the divisions are seen in leagues. There are those who call for the release of Pedro Castillo, alleging that his self-coup on December 7 did not take place and that Congress approved his vacancy with fewer votes than the law dictates. Others have the slogan that the current parliamentarians must leave seats and promote a Constituent Assembly. Those who reject the privatization of national companies and also demand the departure of the United States military troops that carry out "cooperation and training activities" with the Peruvian Armed Forces will also march. This contrast of ideals could weaken and even collapse the protest. But political scientist Omar Coronel explains that democracy must be prioritized above all else. "Arming fronts is never easy, but it is less difficult when there is awareness of both the differences and the decisive convergences."

In the middle of the week, the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos suspended its face-to-face activities until further notice. Its justification: "Safety measures and prevention of contingencies." Last January, students from this public university welcomed hundreds of protesters from the regions to the campus. A few days later, a police contingent entered with tanks, in a massive detention, where no weapon was found that could incriminate them. The truth is that on Friday afternoon, a large group of university students took San Marcos in rejection of the rector Jeri Ramón's disposition, painting graffiti in the faculties that, in some way, signify the initial shot of the mobilizations. “Down with the central government! Neither warm nor fachos! San Marcos is from the town!”, are some of them

A busy week for the Executive concludes, which began with the meeting of leaders of the far-right radical group La Resistencia with the Vice Minister of Interculturality, Juan Reátegui, at the Ministry's headquarters. The Resistance has carried out various attacks against journalists, members of NGOs, electoral authorities and leftist groups. One of the most fetid: last month bags of excrement were thrown at the premises of the Legal Defense Institute (IDL), in Lima. The meeting produced dismissals and resignations of some heads of the Ministry of Culture, but not of its main authority, Leslie Urteaga. For some analysts it is a message of provocation and impunity from the government.

The head of the Council of Ministers, Alberto Otárola, gave a confusing statement last Friday, in which he distanced the Executive from the protests, despite the fact that the Government was responsible for civil control over the Forces of order. "We call on the authorities to apply the legitimate use of force in accordance with the law and to guarantee the safety and integrity of those who will participate in the march, as well as the peace and tranquility of those who decide not to," he said. Faced with this invocation, a counter-campaign called “Mobilize without fear” has sprung up with a hashtag #justdeadforprotesting. The eyes of the international community will once again be on Peru on Wednesday the 19th.

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