People poured into Peru’s coastal capital, many from remote Andean regions, for a protest Thursday against President Dina Boluarte and in support of her predecessor, whose ouster last month launched deadly unrest and cast the nation into political chaos.
There was a tense calm in the streets of Lima ahead of the protest that supporters of former President Pedro Castillo hope opens a new chapter in the weeks-long movement to demand Boluarte’s resignation, the dissolution of Congress, and immediate elections. Castillo, Peru’s first leader from a rural Andean background, was impeached after a failed attempt to dissolve Congress.
“We have delinquent ministers, presidents that murder and we live like animals in the middle of so much wealth that they steal from us every day,” said Samuel Acero, a farmer who heads the regional protest committee for the Andean city of Cusco. “We want Dina Boluarte to leave, she lied to us.”
Anger at Boluarte was the common thread as street sellers hawked T-shirts saying, “Out, Dina Boluarte,” “Dina murderer, Peru repudiates you” and a call for “New elections, let them all leave.”
“Our God says thou shalt not kill your neighbor. Dina Boluarte is killing, she’s making brothers fight,” Paulina Consac said as she carried a large Bible while marching in downtown Lima with more than 2,000 protesters from Cusco.
By early afternoon, protesters had turned key roads into large pedestrian areas in downtown Lima.
The protests have so far been held mainly in Peru’s southern Andes, with 54 people dying amid the unrest, the large majority killed in clashes with security forces.
“We’re at a breaking point between dictatorship and democracy,” said Pedro Mamani, a student at the National University of San Marcos. Students there are housing demonstrators who traveled for the protest that is being popularly referred to as the “takeover of Lima.”
The university was surrounded by police officers, who also deployed at key points of Lima’s historic downtown district.
Some 11,800 police officers were being sent out, Victor Zanabria, the head of the Lima police force told local media. He played down the size of the protests, saying he expected around 2,000 people to participate.