Get Peru out of the “quagmire”. This is the mission that the interim president, Dina Boluarte, has set herself, with two levers of action at her disposal. Friday, police and army were called to clear the dozens of roadblocks erected across the country which is beginning to experience serious shortages. At the same time, the president asked the parliament to approve a new advance in the general elections, indicating that her government supports the initiative of the opposition to advance the presidential and legislative elections to December 2023.
“We are submitting this bill for the consideration of ministers in order to advance the elections to December 2023”, she added from Lima airport during an operation to send medicines and medical equipment to the south of the country paralyzed by roadblocks. The interim president has led Peru since the dismissal on December 7 by parliament of former elected president Pedro Castillo, which led to violent demonstrations that left at least 46 people dead.
The parliament against a new advance in the elections
Originally, the mandate of Dina Boluarte would run until 2026, term of that of Pedro Castillo, accused of attempted coup. But to contain the growing discontent, parliament had already decided to bring forward the general election to April 2024 last month. The president underlined that as soon as the parliament decides to advance the elections, “we, within the Executive, will immediately demand these elections. No one has an interest in clinging to power (…) I have no interest in remaining in the presidency. If I am here, it is because I have assumed my constitutional responsibility and we will be here until the parliament (…) calls elections”.
Except that the parliament rejected this request on Saturday morning. In plenary session, at the end of a debate which lasted seven hours, the parliamentarians objected to the text by 65 votes, while 45 elected officials voted in favor and two abstained. “With this vote, the proposal for constitutional reform aimed at advancing the elections is rejected,” concluded the speaker of parliament José Williams.
Medicines and blocked foodstuffs
The latter received, after the vote, a request for “reconsideration of the vote” which could be debated on Monday during a new session, although it now seems very difficult to reconsider this result. “We are not going to wait. It has to be now, ”storm Sandra Zorela, a 53-year-old teacher in Cuzco, deserted by tourists who usually come to visit Machu Picchu, a jewel of Peruvian tourism closed due to the unrest. For Eddy Longobardi, a 40-year-old musician, “Peruvians are not interested in this date” of December 2023, demanding the resignation of Dina Boluarte “within two months”.
Faced with a hundred roadblocks erected, mainly in the south of the country, the Ministries of Interior and Defense announced that “the national police of Peru, with the support of the armed forces, will unblock the roads “. The central highway that connects the Andes and is the main route for importing food products to Lima is blocked, hundreds of trucks cannot circulate.
These roadblocks lead to shortages of basic products and fuel, drive up prices and, according to the government, complicate access to care and the arrival of medicines in several regions. The government accused the roadblocks of being the direct cause of ten deaths, including those of three children who, according to it, could not receive the care they needed in time.
Protests continue daily, especially in the impoverished Andean regions of the south, which supported Pedro Castillo and saw his election as revenge for what they see as Lima’s contempt.