‘It was a massacre’: Anger and grief amid Peru’s worst political violence in years | Peru

theEspeth Candia wept uncontrollably as she waited in Cusco’s central morgue to retrieve the body of her brother Remo, the latest protester killed by Peruvian security forces as the country experiences its worst political violence in decades.

“There should be no more deaths,” said she, between sobs. “Let it be the last.” “We don’t want his death to be in vain,” she told the Guardian by phone.

She sat in the waiting room while investigators performed an autopsy on her brother Thursday morning. Remo Candia, 50, had been taken to the city’s Antonio Lorena Hospital the night before with a gunshot wound to the abdomen but paramedics were unable to save him.

“He was just exercising his right to protest and they shot him at close range,” said Lisbeth.

A Sunday lunch was the last time I saw the cheerful folk chief of Arinsaya Kulana, who speaks the Quechua language. campesino The community in Anta County where the family lives.

Remo, a father of three – the youngest is five – has led farmers from his village to join protests in the provincial capital of Cusco, to demand the resignation of President Dina Boloart over 41 civilians killed in violent clashes with the country’s security forces. Just over a month.

Relatives and friends of the victims lay their coffins in the main square in Juliaca, Peru, on January 11.
Relatives and friends of the victims lay their coffins in the main square in Juliaca, Peru, on January 11. Photo: Juan Carlos Cisneros/AFP/Getty Images

The escalating violence began when the former leader began Pedro Castillo was forced from office and detained for rebellion in early December after trying to dissolve Congress and rule by decree in hopes of avoiding a third impeachment trial.

He was succeeded by his deputy Boulwart but became She quickly becomes unpopular as the police unleash deadly violence on Castillo’s supporters, which in turn escalated anger and incited further protests and blockades.

Deep sadness and anger reigned in Juliaca, near Peru’s border with Bolivia, from where it was teetering The most deadly bouts of violence In more than a month of anti-government protests. Under curfew, the city was subdued on Wednesday as mourners, in their thousands, followed the coffins of at least 17 protesters and bystanders who — without exception — had been killed by gunshot wounds.

Among the dead were a 31-year-old medical student who was helping an injured protester and a 17-year-old girl who volunteered at an animal shelter.

The remains of a police officer were also found in a burnt patrol car. His companion, who had a head wound, said they were attacked by a crowd.

Remo Candia.
Remo Candia. Photo: family flyer

Candia was fatally wounded when protesters tried to storm the airport in Cusco, the gateway to Machu Picchu, the country’s preeminent tourist attraction. Protesters have been calling for Boulwart’s resignation, but analysts say the anger runs deeper and is rooted in the decades-old divide between Lima’s political elite and marginalized indigenous and peasant communities in the Andes and Amazon.

In Castillo, an ex A teacher with no prior political experienceMany rural Peruvians thought they had found a leader who would represent them. Despite allegations of corruption, and accusations that he surrounded himself with cronies and had insufficient knowledge of how to govern, many stood by him as he faced a deeply unpopular opposition-led Congress and hostile media.

In the poor, mostly indigenous Puno region, where nearly 90% of the population voted for Castillo in 2021 on his promise to uplift the poor, Governor Richard Hanko said dialogue with the Polwart government was out of the question.

A group of people demonstrate in Tacna, Peru, on January 11.
A group of people demonstrate in Tacna, Peru, on January 11. Photo: Rafael Arancibia/EPA

“For us, this is a murderous government. There is no value given to life,” Hanko said. “It is completely unacceptable that the government caused more than 40 deaths and there was not a single resignation.”

Even by the standards of the security forces, Monday’s violence represented a violent escalationJavier Torres, editor-in-chief of the regional news outlet Noticias Ser. Our security forces are used to shooting people, but I think they have crossed a line here that has not been crossed before.

“It was a massacre – I can’t find any other word to describe it,” he added.

Omar Coronel, a professor of sociology and the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, said the Poluarte government has formed a tacit coalition with powerful far-right MPs who have portrayed the protesters as “terrorists”. Internal conflict between Peru and the Shining Path in the 1980s and 1990s. known as Truqueo In Peru, it is a common practice used to dehumanize protesters with legitimate grievances.

“Peru’s police force is used to treating protesters like terrorists,” Coronel said. “The logic is that the people who are protesting are enemies of the state.”

Given the utter distrust of political institutions and the growing clamor for Poulwart to step down, Torres said, the plan to bring forward the election by two years to 2024 is a long way off. “If it continues like this, it will be a protest, followed by a massacre, and this is not applicable,” he said.

Police fire tear gas in Cusco, Peru, on January 11.
Police fire tear gas in Cusco, Peru, on January 11. Photo: Evan Flores/AFP/Getty Images

The United Nations Office for Human Rights b Investigation In deaths and injuries, while the Peruvian Attorney General’s Office opened an investigation regarding Genocide and murder Boluarte and its chief ministers.

At the Cusco morgue, Lisbeth Candia veers between grief and anger. “Why should so many lives be spent just because that woman does not want to leave the government?” she asked.

“She has to go. We don’t want her. We want her to pay for my brother’s death, the death of many,” she said angrily. “We want to live in a new homeland, where we are not considered second-class citizens.”

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