At least 17 people were killed and more than 64 injured Monday in Peru after a series of clashes between security forces and demonstrators opposed to the interim government of President Dina Boloart. The deaths occurred in Juliaca, a city in the southern Puno region, near the country’s famous Lake Titicaca.
The clashes came after weeks of tensions following the impoverishment of President Pedro Castillo in December. The post-crisis death toll has now risen to 39, as human rights organizations such as the Red Cross call for an end to the violence.
The first casualties were confirmed late on January 9 by Health Ministry official Henry Ripaza, who also stated that ambulances were damaged during the demonstrations. Peruvian Public Defender’s Office as well advertiser A newborn baby died on the way to the hospital due to road closures.
“We ask the demonstrators to allow ambulances and health workers to pass through humanitarian corridors, especially people in fragile situations,” the office said. Health Secretary Rosa Gutierrez issued a similar appeal.
The ouster of Castillo, who is currently in jail after trying illegally to shut down Congress in December in what analysts called a self-coup, has inflamed social conflicts outside the Peruvian capital.
Despite being deeply unpopular in Lima and having low approval ratings across the country, Mr. Castillo still has many supporters in poor, rural areas. He is currently serving 18 months of pretrial detention, accused of rebelling against state authorities – charges he denies.
Organizations supporting Mr. Castillo generally do not recognize Ms. Boulwart’s interim administration as legitimate, and demand that elections be held immediately to replace her.
Last month, Peru’s unpopular Congress rejected the idea of holding elections in 2023, setting them for April 2024 instead, but political pressure is mounting to bring that date forward.