Organized labor and progressive civil society groups in Peru are calling for a national strike as unelected interim President Dina Boluarte imposes a 30-day state of emergency in a bid to quell protests demanding her resignation and an end to the country’s neoliberal economic model.
Thousands of Peruvian workers have taken to the streets in recent days to push for the immediate dissolution of Congress, fresh elections, and the creation of a new constitution by a constituent assembly.
They are also advocating for the release of ousted leftist President Pedro Castillo, who was removed by the country’s deeply unpopular right-wing majority Congress and jailed last Wednesday in what critics describe as a U.S.-backed legislative coup. The state’s violent repression of demonstrators has left at least eight people dead.
“We declared ourselves in a popular insurgency against the coup d’état planned and perpetrated by Congress, the leadership of the armed forces, the mainstream media, and the judiciary, which acted as operators of economic groups,” the Agrarian and Rural Front of Peru (FARP) and the National Peoples’ Assembly (ANP) said in a recent joint statement, teleSUR reported Thursday.
“On December 15, the working class across the country will take to the streets to demand the closure of Congress, general elections, and a new constitution. All power to the people!” the General Confederation of Workers of Peru (CGTP) added, calling for an afternoon rally at Dos de Mayo Square in the capital of Lima.
Protests erupted last week after Peruvian lawmakers dismissed Castillo following his attempt to dissolve Congress. Prosecutors are seeking an 18-month prison sentence for Castillo, who remains incarcerated for allegedly fomenting a rebellion.
Castillo and his defenders have portrayed his move to form an emergency government as a last-ditch effort to preempt his overthrow, which the country’s right-wing oligarchs had sought from the moment the former educator and union organizer upset Keiko Fujimori, daughter of the country’s former neoliberal dictator, in the 2021 presidential election.
“The oligarchic rulers of Peru could never accept that a rural schoolteacher and peasant leader could be brought into office by millions of poor, Black, and Indigenous people who saw their hope for a better future in Castillo,” Manolo De Los Santos, co-executive director of the People’s Forum, wrote last week in People’s Dispatch.
That sentiment has been echoed by U.S.-based peace group CodePink and other progressives around the world. Among those who have condemned Castillo’s ouster and the ensuing bloodshed are current and former Latin American leaders, including ex-Bolivian President Evo Morales and ex-Honduran President Manuel Zelaya—both democratically elected leftists who became victims of U.S.-backed right-wing coups.
In a joint statement published Tuesday, the leftist presidents of Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, and Mexico—respectively, Alberto Fernández, Luis Arce, Gustavo Petro, and Andrés Manuel López Obrador—expressed their “deep concern over the recent events that resulted in the removal and detention of José Pedro Castillo Terrones, president of the Republic of Peru.”
“It is not news to the world that President Castillo Terrones, from the day of his election, was the victim of anti-democratic harassment,” the presidents said. “Our governments call on all the actors involved… to prioritize the will of the citizens that was pronounced at the polls.”
“We exhort those in our [national] institutions to refrain from reversing the popular will expressed through free suffrage,” the statement added. “We request that the authorities fully respect the human rights of President Pedro Castillo and that he be guaranteed judicial protection.”
The message from regional leaders came as Peruvian security forces escalated their crackdown against protesters, especially in the impoverished Andean region where support for Castillo, the son of illiterate peasant farmers, is strongest.
“The U.S. Embassy in Peru was incredibly quick to recognize the coup government in Peru but has been completely silent about the multiple killings and heavy repression by police,” De Los Santos tweeted Tuesday. “The blood of those young Peruvians killed by the Boluarte regime is also on the hands of the U.S. government.”
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