AMERICA/PERU - "Let's not allow Peru to be destroyed by our actions or fall into an institutional abyss"; still dead and wounded in the clashes

Tuesday, 10 January 2023 social situation   politics   human rights   episcopal conferences  


Lima (Agenzia Fides) - "We cannot allow Peru to be destroyed by our actions, nor let it fall into an institutional abyss" is the new appeal launched by the Peruvian Bishops a few hours ago after the latest clashes that took place yesterday in the south-east of the country. In fact, the serious tension that the Peruvian people have been experiencing since December 7, 2022, following the dismissal of the President of the Republic, Pedro Castillo and his subsequent arrest for attempting to dissolve parliament, followed by the swearing in of the new President Dina Boluarte, who was Castillo's deputy (see Fides 9/12/2022), does not seem to ease.
Protests have since erupted across the country, including the capital, involving thousands of people demanding Boluarte's resignation and early elections. Despite the state of emergency and the night curfew, and the promise to bring the elections forward to 2024, the clashes with the security forces have caused deaths and injuries, as well as the blockage of roads and communication routes, such as railways and airports.
According to information gathered by Fides, the toll of the latest clashes that took place yesterday in the city of Juliaca, in Puno, in south-eastern Peru, where a general strike has been underway since January 4, speaks of 17 dead and dozens injured, even among the police forces. Protesters attempted to invade and block the city airport. Through a statement entitled "Thou shalt not kill" (Ex 20:13), the Bishops expressed their condolences for their deceased brothers and their solidarity with the wounded. They also deplored that "these facts occurred as a result of the distortion of the right to protest, resorting to illegality; and, on the other, by the excessive use of force". "Both positions are to be condemned - the Bishops point out - and in both those responsible must be promptly identified".
The Bishops' Conference underlines the need to distinguish the "right protests" through a rational dialogue and launch a new appeal: to the Government to "put an urgent end to the violence and deaths, wherever they come from"; to the public prosecutor's office and the judiciary to "investigate and punish"; finally to the Congress so that it "takes the decisions required by the economic situation and by the social peace of the country".
Peru has been experiencing a profound political and social crisis for some time, with six Presidents of the Republic who have succeeded one another in recent years, some of whom have been forced to resign as they were accused of scandals or corruption. Political fragmentation and the intertwining of politics with crime have led to a situation of ungovernability, while the country is still suffering from the economic consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Bishops have renewed their calls for unity, good governance, dialogue and respect for human rights for a long time. Immediately after the events of December 7, they urged the institutions "to protect and safeguard democracy, guaranteeing, preserving and restoring public and constitutional order", "to maintain national unity, to keep calm and to put an end to any form of violence and violation of citizens' fundamental rights" (see Fides, 9/12/2022).
In a subsequent message they reiterated: "We need sincere dialogue, to calm souls to protect our weak democracy, preserve the institutional nature and maintain the fraternity of our people" (see Fides, 13/12/2022). They then invited "all the faithful and people of good will to express peace, hope and fraternity in Peru, through a Day of Prayer for Peace" which took place on Sunday, December 18 (see Fides, 16/12/2022).
At the Angelus that Sunday Pope Francis recalled the situation in the country with these words: "Let us pray for peace in Peru, so that the violence in the country may cease and that the path of dialogue may be undertaken to overcome the political and social crisis afflicting the population". Similar appeals have been launched in recent weeks by other religious confessions present in the country. (SL) (Agenzia Fides, 10/1/2023)