Bloody protests in Peru demand the resignation of the interim president

Louis Savarino, Staff Writer

As of January 22 2023, more than 50 Peruvian protesters have been killed, with hundreds injured by brutal crackdowns on demonstrations by security forces. This comes after turmoil in Peru surrounding the sitting president Pedro Castillo’s attempt to dissolve congress in a self-coup attempt. 

This brutal crackdown on largely peaceful protesters has stirred outrage among many, prompting increasingly violent clashes between protesters and security forces. These protests largely stem mainly from opposition to the current appointed President Dina Boluarte (formerly the vice-president), who is aligned with center-right politics in Peru. 

A poll conducted after she assumed the presidency found that 80% of respondents said  they disagreed with her assuming the presidency. Many international observers have criticized the current government for violent police tactics used to confront demonstrators.

This latest turmoil in Peru is only the latest chapter in the country’s turbulent history.  This provides an interesting perspective into why former President Pedro Castillo first won the presidency, and then subsequently tried to dissolve congress. 

In the 1990s, Peru was wracked with terrorism, from the far-left Shining Path guerilla group. Alongside the incredibly corrupt government of then-President is Alberto Fujimori, whose police and paramilitary forces terrorized civilians and implemented neoliberal reforms in the country that lead to widespread inequality. 

This inequality was seen largely amongst indigenous peoples. Pedro Castillo emerged as a result. In a country dominated by an elite, white, upper class, Pedro Castillo rose to prominence, taking office in 2021. His presidency was a marked change in general governance in Peru, which previously was dominated mainly by the right or center-right. 

This shift allowed for   policies including redistribution plans for Peru’s poorest and the raising of taxes on mining sectors largely run by multinational corporations. While today the outlook on current events in Peru is bleak, swift elections for the presidential office could alleviate much of the ongoing violence, but the country still faces economic problems such as massive inflation. 

Current inflation in Peru is likely attributable to Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine as a knock-on effect of sanctions that affect prices all over the world. For Peru, prices on fuels and fertilizers are likely large drivers of this, affecting poor, rural farmers. Annual inflation rates in the country are hovering around 7.46% in 2022 and 4.39% in 2023.