Peru Anti-government Protesters Clash with Police in Puno

(Al Jazeera, 7.Jan.2023) — Dozens of anti-government protesters have clashed with police in southern Peru amid renewed unrest in the wake of the removal and detention of former President Pedro Castillo.

The protesters attempted to take over the airport and police used tear gas to disperse them, the Reuters news agency reported. Demonstrators set fire to a police tank outside the Inca Manco Capac airport in Juliaca, in Peru’s Puno region late on Friday, according to local media reports and images circulating on social media.

Demonstrations against the new President Dina Boluarte resumed this week after a two-week pause. In December, there were violent clashes, leaving 22 people dead, after Castillo was impeached, arrested and placed in detention.

News outlets in Puno reported 15 people were injured in protests on Friday. Three officers were injured in the clashes and flown to Lima, the capital, for treatment, police said on Saturday. More than 40 people have been injured since protests started again on Wednesday, said the health ministry.

Airport services were suspended “due to the violent acts and lack of security”, according to the Andean Airports of Peru, which operates the Juliaca airport.

Protesters forced the temporary closure of three airports in Peru in December.

The protesters are demanding the removal of Boluarte, who took over on December 7 after the country’s opposition-held Congress overwhelmingly voted to remove Castillo. The demonstrators are also calling for the closure of Congress, constitutional changes and Castillo’s release.

Castillo is serving 18 months in pre-trial detention while being investigated on charges of “rebellion” after illegally trying to close Congress, which he denies.

Up to 49 blockade points were reported Friday in different regions of the country, an uptick from the day before, the Ombudsman’s Office said in a statement.

Al Jazeera’s Mariana Sanchez, reporting from Apurímac, Peru, said hundreds of farmers joined protests there on Friday.

Demonstrators told Al Jazeera that they were demanding former President Castillo’s campaign policies be fulfilled by the government.

“We want President Dina Boluarte to resign. She does not represent us,” said protester Lidia Pillaca.

In the Ica region, on Peru’s central coast, protesters blocked a key highway, stranding dozens of passenger and cargo transport vehicles.

“We have already supported last year’s strike, we have been unemployed for about 10 days and the truth is, with the pandemic and all that there has been, we want to continue working,” said Jose Palomino, a driver affected by the roadblock.

The attorney general’s office said Friday it was assessing complaints against Boluarte and three of her ministers and, if warranted, would launch an investigation into deaths that occurred during December’s protests.

Human rights group have accused security forces of using deadly firearms and launching smoke bombs on protesters, who the army says have used homemade weapons and explosives.

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