State of emergency declared throughout Peru, ex-president remains in prison

The crisis is not running out of steam in Peru. A state of emergency was declared on Wednesday across the country in the face of violence that has killed seven people since the dismissal of President Pedro Castillo, who is still in detention.

The violent demonstrations that have gone crescendo since the dismissal of Pedro Castillo on December 7, have also injured more than 200 people. In addition to the release of the former head of state, the demonstrators demand the resignation of President Dina Boluarte, from the same radical left party as her predecessor, and the dissolution of Parliament.

The army can intervene in the maintenance of order

“The state of emergency has been declared throughout the country for thirty days (…) We need an energetic response with authority” in the face of violence, said Defense Minister Alberto Otarola, stressing that the measure includes “the suspension of freedom of movement and assembly” with “possibility of a curfew”. “The police with the support of the armed forces will have control of the entire territory”, he specified, the state of emergency notably allowing the army to intervene in the maintenance of order.

Overwhelmed by the demonstrations which continue, the authorities are trying to get out of the crisis while blowing hot and cold. At the same time, Dina Boluarte, who was Castillo’s vice-president until her failed attempt to dissolve Parliament, has indeed announced that she wants to bring forward the electoral calendar again. She thus affirmed that the government, Parliament and the electoral body were making “adjustments” in order “to advance the elections to December 2023”, specifying that “before this date, it does not work legally. We have to stay within the legal framework”.

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The new president had already pledged on Sunday to advance them from 2026 to April 2024, without stopping the protests. She is herself affected by the measure: her mandate theoretically runs until 2026, Pedro Castillo having been elected in 2021 for five years.

Tourists stranded at Machu Picchu

The mobilization remained strong on Wednesday with many roads blocked. The police had counted rallies in 14 of the 24 regions on Tuesday evening. The southern part of the country, especially the tourist area of ​​Cuzco, and the northern part remain the most affected areas. The train connecting Cuzco and the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu has also been suspended since Tuesday due to the unrest. Many tourists are stranded on the site.

For the moment, the former president remains in prison in a barracks located in Até, east of Lima. The judge who was to rule on Wednesday on the request for preventive detention of 18 months filed by the prosecution during the night, granted the defense time to study the documents. But he kept Pedro Castillo in custody for another 48 hours. The Supreme Court had ordered on December 7 his pre-trial detention for seven days. It was therefore in theory to be released on Wednesday.

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