Social movements from across Peru are protesting outside the US embassy in Lima to condemn the US role in the coup against Pedro Castillo. The main chant from protesters is, “Yanqui murderers, get out of Peru!” “We’re here because we love our country (..) that’s why we’re here outside the US embassy because we know that it was through the US embassy that Dina Boluarte and [Prime Minister] Otarola made deals to be protected by that country,” said one protester from the Sandia province, Puno. “The US embassy has always tried to control us (..) we’ve had enough of being dominated by the US, we want to be a free country, a free Peru, with sovereignty. We mustn’t surrender, this mobilization is in defense of our natural resources, to close congress, the resignation of Dina Boluarte, a new constitution, general elections”, said another protester to Radio Pachamama.
The far-right mob that invaded the federal building, Congress, and the Supreme Court and vandalized government buildings at Three Powers Plaza in Brasília on January 8, demanded a “military intervention” in Brazil. They had set up camps that had assembled in front of army barracks throughout the country since November demanding the “military to overturn” the election of Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (known as Lula). On November 11, 2022, the commanders of the armed forces released a note giving the coup camps a safe haven—not only physically but also legally. It is important to note two elements of that document: first, the commanders stated, through an illogical interpretation, that the camps in favor of a coup were legal because the protesters were peaceful, and that “both possible restrictions on rights by public agents and possible excesses committed in demonstrations” would be reprehensible, despite the fact that demanding the military to stage a coup is a crime (Article 286).
On Sunday January 8, supporters of former far-right Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro invaded the Supreme Federal Court, the National Congress, and the Planalto Palace, the office of the president, breaking through the blockade of the Military Police and the National Security Force at the Esplanade of Ministers in the capital Brasília. After invading the headquarters of the three branches of government, the violent groups vandalized the buildings, looted the armory at the Planalto Palace, and caused tremendous damage to public institutions. Following the acts of violence, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva condemned the situation, criticized the complicity of Brasília’s public security forces in the attacks, and decreed federal intervention in public security of Brasília until January 31.
The general strike against Peru’s coup regime is on its sixth consecutive day with barricades and roadblocks erected across the country. The weekend also saw countless illegal arrests of protesters and journalists. According to authorities, protesters have blocked highways at 45 different points. The indigenous Aymara region of Puno is the center of opposition to the regime, with the highest number of barricades erected along highways. The roads connecting Puno to Arequipa, Cusco, and the Amazon, are among those currently blocked. In Lima, 224 people were detained on Friday for participating in protests organized by workers’ unions. Nevertheless, the transport workers union has announced that they will join the general strike “if this is the only way for them to listen to us,” said their general secretary Ricardo Pareja.
Supporters of the former president Jair Bolsonaro invaded the Supreme Federal Court, National Congress, and the Planalto Palace, the office of the president, this Sunday January 8, breaking through the blockade of the Military Police and the National Security Force of the Esplanade of Ministers in Brasília. The Planalto Palace, where the cabinet of the President also works from, was one of the key targets of the Bolsonaristas. According to CNN, there were members of the government in the building, that awaited rescue inside. Dozens of buses had arrived on Saturday January 7 to the Federal District to carry out the coup actions. Estadão estimated that 100 buses and approximately 3,900 people had traveled to the capital.
Bolivia’s social movements have declared a state of emergency and permanent mobilization in support of President Luis Arce in response to riots in Santa Cruz by groups loyal to arrested coup leader, Luis Fernando Camacho. Social movements that made the declaration include the COB workers confederation, the campesino confederations (CSTUCB, Interculturales), and indigenous organizations (CONAMAQ, Bartolinas). Executive Secretary of the COB, Juan Carlos Huarachi, held a press conference late last night after a meeting President Luis Arce, he said, “Today, all the social movements agree to declare ourselves in a state of emergency for everything that is happening in the department of Santa Cruz.
The general strike against Peru’s coup regime has entered its third consecutive day. The strike is growing and social movements are now demanding the resignation of the unelected president, Dina Boluarte. Other demands include; the release of former President Pedro Castillo, the closure of Congress, early general elections, and a constituent assembly. According to the government, as of today, protesters have blocked off highways at 46 points across the country. This is up from 37 yesterday, and 25 the day before. Mobilizations are stronger in the southern part of the country. Protests have taken place in the departments of Apurimac, Arequipa, Ayacucho, Puno, Cuzco, and Tacna, also in the Amazonian city of Pucallpa.
Unfulfilled campaign promises, accusations of corruption, and even an attempted self-coup cannot turn the many supporters of Peruvian President Pedro Castillo against him. The president has probably ceased to represent hopes for change, but he still symbolizes —perhaps more now than ever— structural discrimination in Peru. In Lima, the political, economic, and intellectual elites are intrigued. They wonder why the majority of Peruvians in the streets are demanding Castillo’s release. They are even more disconcerted by the minority that insists he be reinstated. It is not surprising that the ruling class is disoriented. For decades they have been isolated from the rest of the country, moving about comfortably in Lima’s de facto Apartheid, perpetuating a dynamic that tends to dehumanize Indigenous, working-class Peruvians.
The decision to change the electoral calendar came following the call for further intensification of nationwide protests demanding the release and reinstatement of ousted left-wing President Pedro Castillo, the resignation of the de-facto President Dina Boluarte, the dissolution of the right-wing dominated unicameral Congress, fresh parliamentary elections, and the establishment of a Constituent Assembly to change the country’s 1993 Constitution. On Monday, December 19, several Indigenous, peasant, and social movements from Apurímac, Arequipa, Ayacucho, and Puno regions, among others, called on the citizens to strengthen strikes and reinforce roadblocks across the country, beginning December 20. The legislators of the left-wing Free Peru party, which sponsored Castillo’s presidential candidacy in 2021, voted against the bill and insisted on their demand to call for Constituent Assembly elections alongside the next general elections.
More than a dozen countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have condemned the coup in Peru and backed democratically elected President Pedro Castillo. Meanwhile, the US government has staunchly supported the coup regime, which has suspended civil liberties, imprisoned Castillo for 18 months without trial, and unleashed extreme violence on Peruvian protesters, killing dozens and wounding hundreds. On the other side, Peru’s unelected coup regime has the strong support of the United States and Canada, as well as Brazil’s far-right Jair Bolsonaro administration and the right-wing governments in Ecuador, Uruguay, and Costa Rica. Chile, led by liberal President Gabriel Boric, is the only country with an ostensibly left-of-center government that has joined the US and the region’s right wing in backing the coup in Peru.
“You’re probably wondering who paid me to be here,” a man in his 40s, from the southern Andean province of Ica, said to me. “Well, no one paid me to be here. We are doing this because our hearts are with the homeland, because I want my Peru to change, because a government that was trying to do this was unjustly overthrown.” Luis Alberto (name changed) is one of hundreds of Peruvians who traveled to Peru’s capital, leaving behind his home and his employment, to protest the coup against Pedro Castillo as well as his detention, which took place on December 7, 2022. We met outside the Barbadillo Prison in the eastern part of Lima. This prison is where constitutional president Pedro Castillo is being held in pre-trial detention, which was just extended to 18 months by a judge on Thursday, December 15.
In just over six years, Peru has had seven different presidents. The period between July 2016 and December 2022 has been a time of deep political instability. This chaos is largely due to Peru’s deeply undemocratic constitution, which was inherited from the far-right US-backed dictator Alberto Fujimori, who governed the country with an iron fist from 1990 until 2000, committing genocide against the Indigenous population and killing, torturing, and disappearing thousands of dissidents. Article 113 of Peru’s constitution gives the unicameral congress the ability to remove presidents if two-thirds of members vote to declare that they have a “moral incapacity.”
The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), the left-wing economic and political bloc uniting countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, has forcefully opposed the coup d’etat in Peru and expressed its support for the country’s democratically elected President Pedro Castillo. ALBA member states released a joint declaration stating that they “reject the political trap created by the right-wing forces of that country against the Constitutional President Pedro Castillo, forcing him to take measures that were later used by his adversaries in parliament to oust him from office.” The alliance condemned the violent “repression by the law enforcement agencies against the Peruvian people who are defending a government democratically elected at the polls.”
The US ambassador in Peru, a veteran CIA agent named Lisa Kenna, met with the country’s defense minister just one day before democratically elected left-wing President Pedro Castillo was overthrown in a coup d’etat and imprisoned without trial. Peru’s defense minister, a retired brigadier general, ordered the military to turn against Castillo. The coup set off mass protests all across Peru. The unelected regime has unleashed brutal violence, and police have killed numerous demonstrators. Meanwhile, the US government has staunchly supported Peru’s unelected coup regime, which declared a nation-wide “state of emergency” and deployed the military to the streets in an attempt to crush the protests.