“An estimated 70 people were killed in violent repression by state security forces in the first three months of the anti-coup protests.”
By Logan Williams
The struggle against the coup-government in Peru continues, with thousands of workers, Indigenous people, students, artists, peasants, and left activists taking to the streets throughout July in Peru’s capital Lima. The mobilization, called the “Third Takeover of Lima,” was called for by a broad coalition of trade unions, peasant and Indigenous organizations, left parties and organizations, and artistic groups in an effort to continue the struggle against the coup-regime of President Dina Boluarte.
This protest wave takes place against a backdrop of rising disapproval of both Boluarte – which rose from 71% in January to 81.6% in July – and that of the right-wing dominated Congress – which increased from 89% to 90.4% – according to a new survey conducted by the Institute of Peruvian Studies (IEP).
The protest movement’s key demands include the installation of a constituent assembly to rewrite the country’s constitution, the resignation of Dina Boluarte, the immediate release of former President Pedro Castillo who was removed in the coup, the dissolution of the Congress, and justice for the thousands of victims of police repression.
The movement’s key tactics have included regular marches throughout Lima, national strikes supported by a variety of unions, blocking key roads across Peru including seven highways throughout the country and, barricading the bridge between Bolivia and Peru using stones and metal structures to protest the attacks facing the indigenous Aymara people who have often been the bedrock of the protest movement.
Throughout all these actions, the Police and State forces have responded with grossly disproportionate levels of force, primarily using indiscriminate amounts of tear gas to disperse crowds. There also reports of officers forcibly removing people from the central plaza of Lima, aggressively pushing both men and women of all ages and reports of officers trying to pull young protesters’ gas masks and safety glasses off them.
Alongside these reports, the National Human Rights Coordinator of Peru (CNDDHH), whose members observe social protests and document human rights violations, have publicly condemned the use of undercover police officers which have been detected participating in arrests throughout the third takeover of Lima. The CNDDHH have publicly reminded the government that “according to the IACHR and the UN, all police officers must be identified during protests,” stressing that “anonymity favors abuse and impunity.”
The CNDDHH have also denounced the fact that in recent protests three of its observers had suffered attacks by members of the Peruvian National Police, and had been defamed as “terrorists,” by state forces while carrying out their work of accompanying, registering and denouncing violations of human rights. The organisation has made it clear it continues to reject all acts of repression and hate speech.
Alongside this, the Peruvian Journalists Association has documented over 200 aggressions against the press since President Dina Boluarte’s regime began in 2022. These aggressions include those against Wayka journalist Juan Zapata, who was attacked twice by the police while he was alone which resulted in being struck in the head by a baton and shot in the leg in two different attacks, and documentary filmmaker Kente Aguirre, who was detained for over 24 hours in a police facility where he was reportedly tortured, according to human rights lawyers.
These shocking acts of repression from the Peruvian national government demonstrate that the Government’s claims it supports dialogue and a peaceful conclusion with the protestors are false.
Alongside these denouncements from Peru’s national human rights organisation, we have seen reports from local media that an estimated 70 people were killed in violent repression by state security forces in the first three months of the anti-coup protests from December to February.
The IACHR (Inter-American Commission on Human Rights) in its report released in May slammed the Peruvian authorities for responding to the demonstrators with “disproportionate, indiscriminate and lethal use of force,” classifying the actions by state forces as “extrajudicial executions” and “massacres.”
It is vital that the British Labour movement continues to spread awareness of the extreme repression faced by the Peruvian opposition movement which is campaigning for social progress and self-determination and, that we continue to build and expand our solidarity actions against the illegal coup and in defence of democracy.
- Logan Williams is an NEU activist and an organiser for Labour Friends of Progressive Latin America (LFPLA). You can follow Logan on twitter here; and follow LFPLA on Facebook and Twitter.
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