By Carlos Mandujano / Luis Jaime Cisneros
Protests against the new government of Peru grew this weekend across the country’s interior, with demonstrators calling for a national strike, the resignation of President Dina Boluarte and fresh elections.
The protests have swollen steadily since the legislature on Wednesday impeached leftist president Pedro Castillo after he tried to dissolve it.
Boluarte, a former prosecutor who had served as vice president under Castillo, was quickly sworn in to replace him.
Castillo is now under arrest, and on Sunday demonstrators in cities across the country demanded his release.
In the southern city of Andahuaylas, where 16 civilians and four police officers were injured in protests Saturday, there were new clashes Sunday. Protesters fired slingshots and hurled stones, while police responded with tear gas.
Meantime, rural unions and organizations representing indigenous peoples called for an “indefinite strike” beginning Tuesday.
They demanded the suspension of congress, early elections and a new constitution as well as Castillo’s immediate release, according to a statement from the Agrarian and Rural Front of Peru, which groups about a dozen organizations.
The Rural Front contends that Castillo “did not perpetrate a coup d’etat” on Wednesday when he announced the suspension of Congress and said he would be ruling by decree — a move that prompted Congress to oust him and swear in Boluarte in his place.
Castillo was arrested Wednesday while on his way to the Mexican embassy to seek asylum. Prosecutors have charged him with rebellion and conspiracy.
The demands for new elections come as recent polls show nearly nine in 10 Peruvians disapproving of the nation’s legislature.
Peru is now on its sixth president since 2016.
Castillo’s 17-month rule was overshadowed by six investigations against him and his family, mass protests demanding his removal, and an power struggle with the opposition-backed Congress.