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Peru protesters engage in ongoing battles with police after thousands march in Lima | Peru

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A march billed as the “takeover of Lima” turned into ongoing battles between protesters and riot police amid stone-throwing and swirls of tear gas on Thursday night in the Peruvian capital.

Thousands of protesters from across the country arrived in Lima earlier in the week to take part in a large march demanding the resignation of President Dina Boluarte after nearly six weeks of unrest that killed more than 50 people, including a police officer and eight people who died as a result. of strikes and blockades.

In a late-night television address, Boluarte said the police had the protests under control and that those responsible for the violence and vandalism would not go “unpunished”, adding that “this is not a peaceful march”. She said the “government is standing firm and its cabinet is more united than ever”.

Boluarte stated that the protests “had no social agenda”, but sought “to break the rule of law, generate chaos and disorder and seize power”. She added that attacks on three regional airports had been planned in advance and would be punished to the “full extent of the law”.

“To the Peruvian people, to those who want to work in peace and to those who generate acts of protest, I say: I will never tire of calling you to a good dialogue, of saying that we work for the country,” she said. she said.

One person died and about 10 were injured in clashes with police in the southern city of Arequipa on Thursday, according to the Peruvian ombudsman, when demonstrators allegedly tried to storm the airport. Several airports were closed and large areas of the country were paralyzed by more than 120 roadblocks.

Riot police take cover after the 'Tomar Lima' march on Thursday night.
Riot police take cover after the ‘Tomar Lima’ march on Thursday night. Photography: Sebastian Castaneda/Reuters

Outrage over the rising death toll has fueled the growing protests, which began in early December in support of ousted former president Pedro Castillo but have turned overwhelmingly to demand Boluarte’s resignation, the closure of Congress and new elections. Boluarte was Castillo’s vice president and replaced him after he tried to close Congress and rule by decree on December 7.

Earlier on Thursday, thousands marched through Lima’s San Martín square, many holding flags from their hometown. Peasant security organizations known as ronderos carried traditional whips and indigenous women wore traditional colored skirts. There were shouts of “Dina, assassin, the people repudiate you” amid banners showing the first woman president of Peru bathed in blood.

“We want justice, we don’t want our dead to be forgotten,” Zulema Chacón told the Guardian. “We want that usurper out, she doesn’t represent us.”

“They are the thieves and they lie and they lie to us,” said Delia Zevallos, 52, a shopkeeper, referring to lawmakers in Congress, Peru’s most despised political body. “The people woke up, we are no longer children, we know how to read and write… and nobody can tell us what to do.”

Boluarte, who said last week he would not resign, met with a representative of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on Thursday. Last week, the UN agency said it was “very concerned about the increase in violence” in Peru.

Protesters clashed with riot police on the Añashuayco bridge in Arequipa on Thursday.
Protesters clashed with riot police on the Añashuayco bridge in Arequipa on Thursday. Photography: Diego Ramos/AFP/Getty Images

The US and UK ambassadors to Peru welcomed the meeting and issued statements on Thursday calling for calm and urging the government to seek dialogue.

In a statement in Spanish in twitterUS Ambassador Lisa Kenna said it was “critical that law enforcement respect human rights and protect citizens.”

in a similar declarationhis UK counterpart, Gavin Cook, called for “immediate and impartial investigations, accountability measures and justice for victims of reported human rights violations”.

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