Above Photo: Peruvians stage a protest against the government of Dina Boluarte.
Thousands are expected to arrive to Peru’s capital city Lima to participate in a fresh round of protests.
They are calling for the resignation of Dina Boluarte who took office after the coup against Pedro Castillo.
Thousands of workers, Indigenous people, students, artists, peasants, and left activists are preparing to take the streets on July 19 in Peru’s capital Lima. The mobilization, called the “Third Takeover of Lima,” has been 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 Dina Boluarte.
Since the coup against President Pedro Castillo on December 7, 2022, the people of Peru have been on the streets in defense of their vote and have raised clear political demands for an immediate solution to the political and institutional crisis. The key demands include the installation of a constituent assembly to rewrite the country’s constitution, the resignation of Dina Boluarte, the immediate release and restitution of Pedro Castillo, the dissolution of the Congress, and justice for the hundreds of victims of police repression.
The response of the Boluarte regime has been to ignore the demands of the people and heavily repress the mass popular uprising through the violent police repression of protests, arrests and detentions of political leaders and participants, stigmatization in the media, and paramilitary violence.
This heavy repression has not achieved its objective of dissuading the people from demanding democracy and respect of their rights. The July 19 protest is part of a general reactivation of the struggle against Boluarte.
Peoples Dispatch spoke to Lucia Alvites, a Peruvian political activist and feminist about the “Third Takeover of Lima” and the response of the Boluarte government to the demands of the people.
Peoples Dispatch: More than 7 months have passed since the coup against Pedro Castillo. How has popular pressure continued since then and what do social organizations, unions and left-wing parties want to achieve with this third takeover of Lima?
Lucia Alvites: From December 7, when a coup d’état against President Pedro Castillo took place, a demonstration began in the southern highlands of Peru and spread nationwide, demanding the minimum right for any democracy — that those who had been elected by the will of the people should govern.
In this sense, what is being demanded by citizens is the resignation of Dina Boluarte and the dissolution of the Congress so that it does not govern, which is what is happening now. The dictatorship of the current regime is in practice the coalition of the most ultra-right and coup-plotting sectors of the Congress with Mrs. Boluarte and the high commands of the military and the police.
The third key demand is for a new constituent pact ie a new Constitution that is born of and comes from the peoples, a constitution that reflects the voices of those who have been systematically excluded by this creole republic, by this Peruvian republic that has built a State against and on the backs of the Indigenous majority in the country.
These three demands have deepened and gained strength in the face of the response of the dictatorial regime of Mrs. Dina Boluarte, which has been violence. As of today, at least 70 compatriots have been assassinated by the regime, most of them by bullets from the forces of law and order. There have also been multiple human rights violations, such as irregular and illegal detentions, as well as dozens and dozens of injuries.
It is in this context of social conflict and protests that the “Third Takeover of Lima” has been called for.
PD: In recent weeks, both Dina Boluarte and other government officials have made public statements against the organizations and protesters and have met with different sectors such as traders and the group called La Resistencia [the Resistance]. What is the reason for these steps and how do you expect the regime to respond to new wave of mobilizations?
LA: Protests began from Day 1 of the Dina Boluarte government. And unfortunately, since day 1, the response has been State violence and, to be very clear, State terrorism. Reports from different international organizations have chronicled extrajudicial executions, irregular detentions, and a systematic practice of human rights violations, which is part of a political strategy that here in Peru is known as terruqueo.
I believe that in practice, this is the process of construction of an enemy, who is branded as a terrorist, as a terruco. The protester is branded an enemy for exercising his right to free demonstration and for being against a regime and the capture of various powers of the State by a political elite that did not win the elections but carried out a coup d’état. And with this coup d’état and with the management of the Parliament and the Executive, this elite has co-opted various entities of the State, including the institutions that have to practice and exercise justice in the country. Now, with the announcement of the third takeover of Lima, the regime has intensified its strategy of terror. We have the high authorities of the Boluarte regime claiming that terrorists would be infiltrating the demonstrations and alleging that the demand for the change of the constitution came from terrorist groups, which is absolutely false.
What they do with this strategy is to legitimize the violence of the State and in a post-conflict society like Peru — we had an internal armed conflict from 1980 to 2000 — use the ghost of terrorism to delegitimize the right to protest. They also seek to legitimize the violation of human rights by the State.
In the internal armed conflict, anyone who was labeled as a terrorist or terruco could be disappeared, extrajudicially executed, tortured. And to raise this stigma of “terruco” is to enable the State to eliminate citizens who are identified as such. It must be said that this narrative of terrucos is deeply linked to to the terrible racism in Peru.
Who are they, “the terrucos in Peru”? They are people who protest from the southern regions of the country; they are students from public universities; and they are those who march against this regime.
As I speak to you, a van of the National Police is parked at the entry point to Lima. Those who look like they are arriving for the takeover of Lima are being asked for documentation. So we have the right to transit being violated in ways that are extremely racist.
Then this is also linked to how government authorities, for example, have received met with La Resistencia, a group that is the violent arm of the ultra-right that throws excrement at institutions defending human rights and intimidates a children’s library fair in the center of Lima. In 2021, this is the group that with sticks and sharp objects attacked citizens who were outside the National Jury of Elections — citizens who had come from the provinces to defend their vote for Pedro Castillo. These are the kind of groups that meet with the authorities of the Boluarte government.
PD: Despite debates in parliament in December when it looked like there would be early elections, Dina Boluarte has publicly said that she will remain in office until 2026. What has been the response of the organized people to that?
LA: The response of the organized people has been the call for the third takeover of Lima. The people do not want Dina Boluarte to stay at this time. Boluarte has a level of disapproval that borders on 90%. This number was not invented by the people who are protesting — this is data from pollsters that are not necessarily identified with a popular agenda or with a citizen’s agenda.
So what we have is a decomposition and a fatal erosion of this political elite that has decided to govern at gunpoint and through human rights violations just to defend an economic and political model. Dina Boluarte is the fuse they are using to do so. So she has said that she is going to continue in office until 2026 and the answer is the third takeover of Lima, which has been called for on July 19.
We hope that this democratic exercise of the right to protest that the Peruvian people are going to carry out on July 19 can finally give us a political, democratic, popular solution to the crisis and that those in power will step aside and stop using violence to resolve the demands of the Peruvian people.