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Peru's crisis worsens: How far will it go? Will the government give in?

Updated: Aug 10, 2023

The 200 civilians kidnapped in a Peruvian university by the police reminded the world that Peru is going through a major crisis right now.




Context:

During the past weeks, Peruvian demonstrators poured into Lima, the capital, angry at the rising death toll since unrest began last month, and demanding radical change.

The police reported 3,500 demonstrators, but some believe it was more than twice that amount. .

As people in poorer, rural districts express their resentment at the Lima establishment over inequality and rising costs, violent and occasionally murderous protests have resulted in the worst violence Peru has seen in more than two decades, challenging the copper-rich Andean nation's democratic institutions.


The protesters demand are the following:

The current leaders of the country must quit, there must be immediate elections, and a new constitution must replace the market-friendly one that dates back to the 1990s under right-wing strongman Alberto Fujimori.

Human rights organizations claim that the police and soldiers used lethal weapons during the protests.


The protests have been the most violent in decades

According to the police, the demonstrators have utilized explosives and guns.


The University:

When police detained demonstrators and locked them up in a university, the turmoil grew and became more intense.

Over 200 people were detained this weekend by Peruvian police on suspicion of breaking into Lima university's campus without permission.


Police outside the university campus doors

What happened?

On Sunday, one day after the police operation on the university, the world finally saw the release of the roughly 200 people who had been detained.

A young man claimed: "They treated us like prisoners, as if we had guns."

They came in violently with tanks, tear gas, and a helicopter. The campus had become a type of haven for citizens from the southern sierra who had traveled to the capital to protest the government of Dina Boluarte since the previous Wednesday.

The police reduced the crowd to about 200 people without the presence of the defense of the town or the fiscal, among whom were older adults and political speakers.

Even if the demonstrators did not object, as can be seen in numerous films, there was a high level of ferocity in the intervention. They assaulted them, threw them to the ground, blew up doors, checked their belongings, demanded donations of food, and even labeled them "terrorists."

Then they were weighed, and hours later they were transported to the local jails.


Justifications:

As stated in the act of intervention, the police explain that the operation was justified because of a criminal complaint made by the UNMSM's judicial representative, Abelardo Rojas Palomino, who claimed that the marchers had attacked the university's security staff in order to steal and cause violence, stating the dangers of stealing electronic devices, and other security-related items.

The university's Office of General Institutional Imagery released a statement on Friday night detailing these events, eight hours prior to the procedure.

Numerous attorneys, human rights activists, and congresspeople from the left warned that they would not be allowed to enter the university city when the intervention was being carried out to check on the detainees' integrity.

Some academics have compared this police operation to what occurred on May 21, 1991, when former President Alberto Fujimori ordered the military to enter the universities of San Marcos and La Cantuta in order to deal with the subversive elements that had "ideologized" these two places of learning.

In the police operation, it was reported that 192 people were detained on suspicion of aggravated robbery, aggravated usurpation of property, and terrorism-related offenses.

These four are citizens of the university city of San Marcos. Eliana Revollar, the public defender, said it was necessary to rely on the presence of the fiscal throughout the operation. "Human rights must be guaranteed in an emergency," he declared.


What's next?

Civil unrest has been a major problem in Peru over the past few months. Police and authorities have been treating protesters harshly.

The police and authorities have responded by using heavy-handed tactics.

This excessive force is not only a violation of basic human rights, but is likely to cause more unrest among the citizens of Peru. This sentiment already exists, but it is only being intensified.

These brutal tactics by the police and authorities are only serving to increase anger and frustration among the civilians. With no resolution in sight, the continued use of violence to quell citizens will almost certainly lead to further unrest. Given the severity of the situation, it is only a matter of time before the citizens of Peru once again take to the streets in protest.


Will the protests be squashed or will there be a new government?

I think most of it depends on pressure from the outside world. I hope the leaders of the international community and the media can pressure the current government into giving in to the demands.

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