Chaos, deaths, violence: Peru in a state of emergency


The South American country does not come to rest, the protests against President Boluarte are spreading. The conflict threatens to drag Peru back into poverty; the tourism industry is also one of the victims.

“No more repression against the population, Dina does not represent us” – banners in Lima

In normal times, Alejandro García would climb up to Machu Picchu with German tourists. The 39-year-old tourist guide would there, in perfect German, reveal all the secrets of the famous ruined city of the Incas to his tour group. And the Peruvian would show the Germans the perfect spot for a snapshot, with the imposing World Heritage Site in the background. After all, his motto for years has been to show his homeland from the very best side.

But in Peru these are not normal times, quite the opposite. The “Defensoría del Pueblo”, the state ombudsman for the defense of civil rights, has counted more than 60 dead since the protests began in December in the South American country. Collateral damage from the state crisis is the Peruvian tourism industry, which generated more than 877 million euros in 2020 and is more or less idle at the moment.

“The current crisis is hurting us a lot, many Peruvians only want peace and no unrest” – Alejandro García

Right in the middle is Alejandro García, who told DW: “We are currently losing millions of soles, but above all our image in the world, which we have painstakingly built up for years, is suffering. We have no work and are living on the few savings from 2022.”< /p>

Machu Picchu locked again

For January and February, García lost a few orders, and many countries are warning against traveling to the crisis-ridden country. It is already the third low blow for him in a very short time: first the corona pandemic, which shook Peru like hardly any other country, with one of the highest mortality rates in the world. Then the Russian attack on the Ukraine, which caused the Europeans to lose a big hole in their wallets due to the rising energy prices, so that they have thought twice about long-distance travel ever since.

And now the daily demonstrations against President Dina Boluarte, with dead, hundreds injured and roadblocks. García asks himself: “Who will protect the millions of Peruvians who want to work, who pay taxes and who struggle every day to feed their families. Who is listening to us?”

The Peruvian Ministry of Culture now has the again Access to Machu Picchu blocked. 418 tourists were brought to Cusco after protesters destroyed the train route. Not for the first time, as early as mid-December, hundreds of tourists were stranded around the ruined city.

  • Continued protests in Peru: Machu Picchu closed

    No access to the Inca ruined city of Machu Picchu

    In the middle After renewed serious clashes between demonstrators and the police during protests against Peru's government across the country, the Ministry of Culture has denied access to the famous Inca ruins of Machu Picchu. A statement from the ministry said that the step was necessary “in view of the current social situation in our region”.

  • Protests continue in Peru: Machu Picchu closed

    Demonstrators paralyze railway line

    In Peru, the ongoing protests against President Dina Boluarte are increasingly affecting tourism, which is important for the country. According to the Ministry of Tourism, “418 local and foreign tourists” were evacuated from the area of ​​the previously closed Inca ruined city of Machu Picchu over the weekend due to disrupted railway connections.

  • Continued protests in Peru: Machu Picchu closed

    Tourists stranded in Cusco

    Because of the closure, more than 400 stranded tourists, including 300 from abroad, have been brought to nearby Cusco, the Peruvian news agency Agencia Andina reported. In view of the bloody unrest, Pope Francis called on the hostile political camps in the South American country to engage in dialogue and peace.

  • Continued protests in Peru: Machu Picchu closed

    It's been brewing for weeks

    Last week, protesters and police officers in the capital Lima clashed again during protests against the Peruvian government. The protests have continued in recent days. The government opponents hurled stones and firecrackers at the police, who in turn responded with batons and volleys of tear gas.

  • Continued protests in Peru: Machu Picchu closed

    “Capture of Lima”

    Thousands of people came to Lima on Thursday (01/19/2023) under the motto “Toma de Lima” (capture of Lima), mainly from southern Peru. The conflict escalated after President-elect Pedro Castillo was ousted a month ago and arrested on charges of an attempted coup. He has been in custody since then.

  • Continued protests in Peru: Machu Picchu closed

    Anger at the interim president

    The demonstrators have identified Dina Boluarte's government as their main opponent. In chants, they loudly demanded their resignation. Meanwhile, this announces consequences for those “who want to create chaos and disorder”.

  • Continued protests in Peru: Machu Picchu closed

    The country is deeply divided

    The protests are the most violent since autocrat Alberto Fujimori was overthrown in 2000 and show the country's deep division between an economic elite largely concentrated in Lima and the populace in the poor rural areas where Pedro Castillo has his power base.

  • Continued protests in Peru: Machu Picchu closed

    Demand: “Close Congress!”

    The demonstrators are demanding the resignation of the head of state, the dissolution of the congress and the release of the imprisoned ex-president Pedro Castillo. At times, the main streets of Lima turned into a pedestrian zone. While many of them have come from the poorer regions of the Andes, they have also been joined in Lima by numerous student and union representatives.

  • Continued protests in Peru: Machu Picchu closed

    Peru at a turning point?

    According to media reports, the police in Lima have cleared a university occupied by government opponents. Pedro Mamani, a student at the National University of San Marcos, sees his country at a “crossroads between dictatorship and democracy.”

  • Continued protests in Peru: Machu Picchu closed

    Protests across the country

    In the city of Arequipa, one person was killed and ten others were injured as around 1,000 protesters attempted to storm the city's airport. A relaxation is not in sight: “It will not end today and not tomorrow, but only when we have reached our goals,” explained David Lozada on the sidelines of the protests in Lima, expressing what many demonstrators think.

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  • Protests continue in Peru: Machu Picchu closed

    Hundreds arrested in Lima < /h2>

    So far, the police have arrested around 200 people in the capital. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Peru called on the police after the operation to be proportionate. The unrest in Peru began after the ouster of left-leaning ex-president Pedro Castillo in early December. More than 50 people have died so far, most of them on the part of the demonstrators.

    Author: Philipp Böll (cd/dh)

Alejandro García has to continue to live hand to mouth, all his anger is directed at the demonstrators: “These people have ideas of the radical left, the only thing they want to see is destruction and dead people, they don't want any dialogue. It's yes, that we need a new constitution, but what this radical group of people are demanding will only push us back into poverty.”

The spiral of violence continues

The people who get Alejandro Garcia's pulse racing come from the poor south of the country and are mostly Quechua or Aymara. So there is also a struggle raging between rich and poor, between the indigenous population, who have been oppressed for decades, against the white upper class.

< p>Indigenous activists against the police: protests in Lima on January 25

In addition to a constituent assembly, some demonstrators are calling for the dissolution of the congress, others for the release of imprisoned ex-president Pedro Castillo, and all for the immediate resignation of interim head of state Dina Boluarte, who continues to categorically exclude him. They have strong support: trade unions, farmers' associations, environmentalists, left-wing parties and students have joined the protest movement.

Among the many dead is a police officer who was lynched. A 20-month-old baby whose stomach infection could not be treated in time at the hospital due to road blockages. Above all, however, it is civilian victims who were shot by security forces. According to the military and police, these were “terrorists” – which only fuels the anger of the demonstrators.

The European Union has criticized the violence in Peru and described the actions of the security forces as disproportionate . UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on the Peruvian authorities to investigate the deaths quickly, effectively and independently.

Riots in the capital Lima

No wonder that in this heated mood in the capital Lima the violence has now escalated again. There were riots and chaotic scenes in the capital. 6,800 security forces faced 3,500 protesters to protect the presidential palace. It was called tear gas against stones, among the injured were also journalists, minors and nurses. And Cruz Silva.

Anti-Police Protesters: Riots in Lima on January 24

DW reached the human rights lawyer in the emergency room of a hospital. Magnetic resonance therapy was supposed to determine whether she had torn a muscle fiber in her calf. Silva says she was unable to walk for days after a police officer beat her on the legs with his baton during the protests. The lawyer has already filed a complaint with the Ministry of Justice. This violence is commonplace in Peru, she says:

Lawyer Cruz Silva

< p>“I get calls from detainees who have been beaten by police officers and thrown on the ground. There are insults, attempts at intimidation and arrests without reason. With the many deaths, we must assume executions.” On the other hand, there is also violence against police officers who have been kidnapped and, as in one case, lynched. “The violence isn't coming from just one actor. It's unfortunately out of control at the moment.”

Cruz also has an explanation for these excesses. On the one hand, this violence is part of everyday life in Peru, it is present every day. In addition, the state has long since withdrawn from some regions. Especially in moments of crisis, their own rules would apply there, murders would go unpunished. And finally there is racism.

“The discrimination is very strong. And if there are more than 50 dead, but they don't come from the capital but from regions where many indigenous people live, then they don't count. According to the motto: It's not so bad if it's not happened in Lima.”

Severe unrest in Peru again

New elections this year as a way out of the crisis

But how is Peru supposed to get out of this crisis, given the increasingly hardened fronts? Adriana Urrutia, President of the non-governmental organization Transparencia, which has been campaigning for pluralism and democracy in the country for almost 30 years, has the first approaches. First of all, according to the political science professor, the government must change its strategy for dealing with the protests. “Citizens must be able to exercise their right to peaceful protest. On the other hand, those responsible for violence, vandalism and attacks on public property must be sanctioned.”

“Something has to happen quickly to defend democracy in Peru” – Adriana Urrutia

Peru must talk to each other again, Urrutia demands, the only way the country can get out of the crisis is through dialogue. These talks would have to be moderated by regional governors who, on the one hand, would know who they were inviting from the civilian population to the dialogues and, on the other hand, would enjoy a certain level of support from the people. The all-important step, however, is what President Dina Boluarte brought into play with the Organization of American States (OAS): quick new elections Politicians no longer feel represented in parliament. In order to increase the political offer, registration for new parties must be simplified,” says Urrutia certainly calm down a bit.”