December 21, 2022

Several dozen Peruvians have lost their lives and hundreds have been injured in the unrest following a rapid succession of power shifts at the presidential level.

On December 7th, facing possible impeachment, President Pedro Castillo dissolved Congress and declared a government of exception, only to be impeached and jailed within hours. His vice president Dina Boluarte was sworn in as Peru’s first female president, but her leadership was quickly shaken by widespread protest clamoring for new elections, echoing the sentiments of 83% of the population.

When her promises to move presidential elections to December 2023 failed to calm the unrest, she declared a State of Emergency on December 14, banning the right to assembly and unleashing a violent response against protesters by Peruvian security forces.

In the tragic wake of this repression Maryknoll Fr. Mike Briggs who serves in Lima, Peru expressed his concern: “As of this morning 26 people have been killed in the country during the protests of the last week (some only teenagers). We are hoping that there be no further loss of life and that the government listen to the people.”

The Peruvian human rights organization DHUMA, led by Maryknoll Sister Pat Ryan, also weighed in:

We reject the state of emergency declared by the government, since this measure does not resolve the demands of the Peruvian people who took to the streets to protest, nor does it contribute to finding a solution to the political-social situation, and on the contrary encourages the continuity of social mobilization and the consequent police and military repression, exacerbating the current national crisis. We regret the deaths of young people in the context of protests in the southern Andes region, and we hold the government of Dina Boluarte, the Ministers of the Interior and Defense, responsible for their political decisions to act by repressing the population with the use of lethal weapons, committing murders and serious injuries.

The political situation continues to be unstable as shown by yesterday’s dismissal by President Boluarte of her 10-day Prime Minister. In the face of unrest and uncertainty, the Social Action Commission of the Peruvian Bishop’s Conference (CEAS) has stated: “ Let us move closer to peace and dialogue, in assuring no more deaths, and to achieving justice and reparations for the families.”

Photo of the mobilization in Sandia, Puno, Peru courtesy of DHUMA