Peru’s new president, Dina Boluarte, gave in to protesters’ demands early Monday announcing in a nationally televised address that she will send Congress a proposal to move up elections.
Boluarte’s decision came after thousands of demonstrators took to the streets around Peru for another day on Sunday to demand that she resign and schedule elections to replace her and Congress. The protests turned deadly, with at least two reported deaths in a remote community in the Andes, according to officials.
Boluarte said she will propose the scheduling of general elections for April 2024. That marks a reversal as she had previously said she should be allowed to hold the office for the remaining 3 1/2 years of her predecessor’s term.
“My duty as president of the republic in the current difficult time is to interpret, read and collect the aspirations, interests and concerns, if not of all, of the vast majority of Peruvians,” Boluarte said. “So, interpreting in the broadest way the will of the citizens… I have decided to assume the initiative to reach an agreement with the congress of the republic to advance the general elections.”
Many of those demonstrating in the ongoing political crisis are demanding the release from custody of Pedro Castillo, the center-left president ousted Wednesday by lawmakers after he sought to dissolve Congress ahead of an impeachment vote.
The protests rocking Peru heated up particularly in rural areas, strongholds for Castillo, a former schoolteacher and political newcomer from a poor Andean mountain district. Protesters set fire to a police station, vandalized a small airport used by the armed forces, and marched in the streets.
A 15-year-old boy died of an injury suffered during a protest in the remote Andes community of Andahuaylas, Congresswoman Maria Taipe Coronado said as she made an impassioned plea from the legislative palace for Boluarte to step down.
“The death of this compatriot is the responsibility of Mrs. Dina for not submitting her resignation,” charged Taipe, who is affiliated with the party which helped Castillo and Boluarte to their election last year as president and vice president respectively before both were kicked out of that party. “Since when is protesting a crime?”
Taipe charged that authorities were using heavy-handed repressive tactics in quelling demonstrations. But it remains unclear how the boy was fatally injured, and state media reported a second death in the same community without giving details.
Anthony Gutiérrez, director of a local hospital, told a radio station that the second protester to die was an 18-year-old person. At least 26 people also were reported injured. (NBC)