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IMMINENT WARNING: 46 PERUVIANS KILLED IN PROTESTS AS VIOLENCE INCREASES

January 10, 2023

Julia Tsarnas, Amy McGee, Isaiah Johnson, SOUTHCOM Team

Salomon Montaguth, Editor; Shachi Gokhale, Senior Editor


Peruvians protesting over the ousting of former President Castillo[1]


Event: At least 17 people were killed on January 9, 2023, in Peru, as protesters clashed with the police in the southern city of Juliaca, Peru. This brings the total death toll to 46 since protests broke out on December 7, 2022, after former President Pedro Castillo tried to dissolve Congress and is currently in prison. Former Vice President Dina Boluarte was appointed as the new president.[2] The protestors have been demanding the release of Castillo from pre-trial detention and are calling for his reinstatement in office or early elections. Castillo has strong supporters in Peru's rural and low-income areas, where they have blocked roads and disrupted service in airports. In the recent clashes at Juliaca’s airport, police used tear gas and gunfire to fight against protestors armed with improvised weapons such as slingshots. Tensions have escalated between protestors and law enforcement, resulting in over 75 police officers being injured while combating the protests.[3]


Significance: These violent protests will likely further alienate the Peruvian people from the government and law enforcement, encouraging pro-Castillo protestors. The protestors are unlikely to disband as the government has not responded to their demands, likely triggering additional demonstrations. Additional demonstrations will almost certainly result in more fatalities, as law enforcement officers will likely increase their use of indiscriminate force. As violence intensifies and protestors build more roadblocks, the local economy will likely suffer due to the forced closure of businesses in the area. The closure of the airport and blocked roads will likely decrease travel and imports into the area, crippling the local economy. A weakened local economy will likely anger residents, and as desperation mounts, they will likely continue protesting the government's new changes. Although Boluarte proposed moving up the general election to Congress, they are unlikely to approve the measure due to a strong Castillo opposition in Congress. However, if early elections are authorized, Castillo’s supporters will likely cease protesting in the short term, very likely minimizing further casualties.


Recommendations

  • We recommend that Peruvian law enforcement strengthen its presence in southern Peru and authorize non-lethal forces to decrease fatalities. If increased security measures fail, CTG recommends that Congress consider moving up the elections to mitigate immediate violence related to the protests.

  • CTG recommends President Boluarte address the issues former President Castillo looked to resolve, such as poverty and inequality, specifically in rural areas. We recommend Boluarte consider the opposition’s political stances to appease Castillo supporters and restore public safety.

  • We recommend the Peruvian government hold security personnel responsible for extra-judicial killings legally accountable for their actions. This will encourage protestors and law enforcement in the region to de-escalate the situation rather than turning to violence, saving lives and protecting the government’s reputation.

  • CTG recommends that Global Aid Organizations such as International SOS and CARE International deploy emergency personnel and supplies such as food, water, and medical equipment to the impacted area to ensure the safety of those involved. These non-political NGOs can remove roadblocks to allow international aid workers and organizations to reach injured protesters.

  • We recommend that the Peruvian government provide resources to businesses and rural areas impacted by the protests to prevent economic collapse. We recommend deploying law enforcement officers in affected areas to protect local businesses’ properties to prevent further damage. In addition, law enforcement officers in major cities such as Lima should be on high alert in case protests move into urban areas. Available civilian and military aircraft should be used to airlift supplies to injured protesters and law enforcement officers trapped by roadblocks.

  • If there is any additional and or critical information please contact us at The Counterterrorism Group (CTG) by Telephone 202-643-2848 or email info@counterterrorismgroup.com

 

[1] “Manifestantes protestan en Centro de Lima” by Mayimbú licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

[2] “At least 17 killed in Peru as anti-government protests intensify”, Financial Times, January 2023, https://www.ft.com/content/4e1b33ee-5460-4bb4-b60d-bd80d804ac2f

[3] “Death Toll in Peru Rises to 46 Amid Extraordinary Violence”, NYTimes, January 2023, https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/10/world/americas/peru-protests-deaths.html?smid=url-share

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