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FORMER PRESIDENT CASTILLO DETAINED, PERU DECLARED STATE OF EMERGENCY OVER MASS PROTESTS

Region of Concern: Peru

Written By Aleksandr Thomas; Edited by Claire Bracco and Jennifer Loy

Date: December 16, 2022


Pedro Castillo[1]


Event: On December 14, 2022, Peru’s Minister of Defense, Alberto Otarol, announced a nationwide state of emergency. This was in response to the growing number of sizable and often violent protests as a result of former President Pedro Castillo’s ousting and his attempted prosecution by the nation's parliament. The Peruvian military has previously been used to suppress political opposition under the guise of “counterinsurgency operations” against the Marxist insurgent group, Shining Path, during the 1980s and 1990s.[2] The military did not support Castillo’s attempt to dissolve Parliament, siding with now-president Dina Boluarte, while protestors are already contesting her ascendancy. Violent clashes with police have already led to eight deaths, and protesters have blockaded highways, set fires to buildings, invaded airports, and disrupted key mining sites. Peru’s prosecutors are seeking 18 months of pretrial detention for Castillo, who has been charged with rebellion and conspiracy, but the former president has made appeals to international and to local supporters to free him. Supporters have gathered en masse in front of his detention site.[3]


Significance: It is likely that this unrest will escalate into violent clashes between state security forces loyal to Boluarte and local pro-Castillo groups. This will likely lead to widespread civilian casualties and damage to Peru’s key infrastructure. This is also almost certain to strain Peru’s diplomatic relations with other South American states, such as Ecuador, who are likely to boost their security presence at border checkpoints and regions in response. There is a roughly even chance that this increased security presence will contribute to increased regional arms smuggling, which will likely strengthen local, violent, non-state actors, such as Shining Path. Ongoing demonstrations are very likely to disrupt operations of key copper mines in the nation’s south and the inter-state transportation of goods and people. These disturbances are very likely to limit Peru’s short-term economic growth by harming local small businesses and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) reliant projects. This will likely hinder future FDI necessary for long-term economic growth and undermine economic prospects of rural populations.


Recommendations: The Boluarte-led government needs to reestablish order in urban centers and end Peru’s political crisis. This can be accomplished by temporarily postponing criminal proceedings against Castillo, while still barring him from office, and calling for snap elections in early 2023. This would allow the government to meet protestors’ demands but hold Castillo accountable for constitutional violations. For physical security, the deployment of additional local police, and military if necessary, to critical government centers and infrastructure throughout Lima, and provincial capitals, is recommended. This should be accompanied by boosting security around key mining sites, in order to minimize disruption to essential economic activities. Peru’s National Directorate of Intelligence should also partner with local leaders capable of boosting HUMINT and SIGINT capabilities in Castillo strongholds, so that it can monitor communications of protest leaders and recruit local agents to monitor suspicious activities. Foreign-led businesses should also limit operations until physical security can be ensured for nationals operating in Peru. The Boluarte-led government should continue to cooperate with local embassies and consulates to support hastened repatriations of foreign citizens and the maintenance of dialogue with Latin American state-partners.

 

[1] "Pedro Castillo 2" by Ministerio de Defensa del Perú is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

[2] Shining Path, Tupac Amaru (Peru, leftists), Council on Foreign Relations, August 2009, https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/shining-path-tupac-amaru-peru-leftists

[3] Peru declares state of emergency, seeks 18-months jail for Castillo, Reuters, December 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/perus-top-court-mulls-detaining-ex-president-castillo-18-months-2022-12-14/

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