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Peru: Rosalino Flores’s Death And Comuneros Win Land Struggle

Above Photo: Rosalino Flores died two months after being shot during a protest against Peru’s coup government.

“Muerte O Tierra.”

Rosalino Flores is just one of the Peruvians who died in the struggle against the coup government. Clau O’Brien Moscoso continues her dispatches from Peru.

National Strike, Day 82

Perú continues to face crises upon crises over 100 days since the coup regime ousted democratically elected President Pedro Castillo. The masses have remained mobilized in the streets and delegations from various regions throughout the country continue coming to the capital city to overturn this dictatorship, as well as to reinforce their local struggles and blockades. Despite a long battle in the hospital, a young person lost his life at the  hands of this regime. This past Friday also marked the victory of an indigenous campesino community in Cusco from being evicted from their ancestral lands.

After two agonizing months in the ICU, 22 year old Rosalino Flores Valverde became the latest martyr of the Peruvian coup regime. Flores was shot 36 times with lead pellets from behind and at close range in anti-coup demonstrations in Cusco on January 11th, taken to a hospital in the city of Cusco and subsequently transferred to Hospital Arzobispo Loayza in Lima where he was pronounced dead on March 21st. The family of the young gastronomy student held a wake and vigil in his honor in Lima before taking the body to his final resting place in their home of Cusco , where the military occupied the airport as the community received his body in mourning.

The family demands justice for Rosalino and to know the identity of the police that cowardly killed him. Rosalino’s brutal death is just one example of the shoot to kill orders and force the Peruvian National Police and Peruvian Military are using against unarmed protesters. Juan Jose , Rosalino’s brother, who was also at the protest in Cusco, described how his brother was shot and the pain he went through in the ICU:

My brother was a good brother, a good friend. The police shot him from behind, from approximately 2-3 meters away. He received 36 shots that affected all of his vital organs. He stayed in the hospital in Cusco until 1/22/23 when he was transferred to Lima. He couldn’t eat from his mouth. He didn’t have the function of his intestines, and what hurts me the most was being by his side as he cried out, “I want to eat, brother.”

According to the lawyer , “The doctors there told me that they have removed almost 60 percent of his intestines. The shots had also affected the lung, the kidney, and also the small intestine and the large intestine.” As with 50 other Peruvians , Flores was shot at close range in his abdomen, a practice which is causing serious injuries and fatalities. Family members and supporters carried his coffin to various parts of the capital city in procession and as a peaceful march to honor the young martyr’s life. As with other marches, police in riot gear stayed not far behind. Two days later, Flores’s casket arrived in Cusco as armed forces occupied the airport.

A few days later on March 24, over 1,000 people (220 families) of the indigenous community of Tantacalla , Paruro, Cusco were at risk of being evicted from their ancestral lands after a former landowner, Luis Paz Vizcarra , sued them over rights to the territory. After 10 years and 6 previous attempts to displace this community, the courts sided with the comuneros (co-proprietors, or commoners) who had erected road blockades in anticipation of being forced off their lands.

The former landowner was suing for 5 million soles (or roughly $1.3 million) in a case that the lawyer representing the comuneros said has very little evidence aside from the landowner’s  testimony whereas her clients have land rights as indigenous people. “This violates the right of ancestral territories, protected by national and international human rights instruments. In addition, it can generate, in the current circumstances that the country is experiencing, high social and humanitarian costs,” says Miguel Jugo, deputy executive secretary of the CNDDHH (National Coordinator of Human Rights). A thousand officers were dispatched to the area to begin removing them from the land when the courts ruled in their favor. As the President of the Tantacalla community David Quispe said, “muerte o tierra, así es” (death or land, that’s all). The community says they will remain vigilant and next month the judge has called for resolution through dialogue. But until then, they remain on their ancestral lands.

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