Pedro Castillo has decreed a state of emergency in Lima for this Tuesday, which prevents people from leaving their homes and traveling, except if they work in essential services. Transportation does not operate today, except for the only existing Metro line, and thousands of people who did not know about the measure walk the streets trying to return home or get to work. The president of Peru makes this decision amid protests from carriers and farmers over rising prices and rumors of looting in the capital. The Ombudsman’s Office has described the measure as “unconstitutional due to the absence of due motivation” and disproportionate.
Castillo is in the worst moment in his eight months in office. On Tuesday afternoon he will meet with the congressional spokespersons board to discuss solutions to the umpteenth political crisis he faces. About 75% of the population in Peru has an informal occupation, and since mid-2021, the cost of living has increased due to higher inflation and the rise in prices of products that depend on imported inputs such as corn for agriculture. raising chickens, fertilizers and fuels. Castillo’s government came to power offering cheap credits for family farming -which is going through a debt crisis- and measures for carriers, who asked, among other things, for a review of toll contracts because they have expensive rates despite the fact that roads are neglected or unsafe. Both groups of workers began the protests last week due to the breach of the Government’s promises.
The president’s management has a 68% disapproval, according to a survey at the end of March by the Institute of Peruvian Studies, and 71% of respondents believe that his term will not end. So far, the opposition has tried to remove him through the figure of “vacancy due to moral incapacity”: a first motion did not get enough votes to be debated in plenary in December, and last Monday a new motion, discussed in the chamber, It did not prosper due to lack of votes. Castillo faces a fiscal investigation for possible influence peddling regarding military promotions and two of his nephews and the former secretary general of the presidency have arrest warrants, while the Public Ministry investigates them for favoring companies in contracts with the State, colluding with an interest manager.
The supreme decree that was published at midnight on Monday indicates that a confidential police document recommends the extension of a previous state of emergency in Lima and Callao -which ended on March 20- due to the “indefinite national strike of carriers, called by the National Union of Carriers and the National Confederation of Carriers of Peru”. The Government has exempted from compulsory immobilization the personnel of the health services, water, sanitation, electricity, gas, fuel, telecommunications, cleaning, funeral homes, and freight and merchandise transport. Lima airport continues its operations normally.
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The president’s message was so late, and so out of time, that many people didn’t know about it. Many citizens went to work, shopping or to the beach. In the afternoon, hundreds of people marched into the center of the capital to demonstrate against Castillo, some from one of the upper-class districts, San Isidro.
Last Saturday, after six days of road blockades in the Junín region, the police repressed demonstrators and infiltrated vandals alike: the balance was 15 wounded -two of them with eye injuries- and 22 arrested. A teenager drowned in a river on Friday while escaping police violence and a woman who was participating in the protest died last Monday after being run over by a vehicle that was avoiding the blockades. In Huancayo, the capital of Junín, a delegation of ministers negotiated on Saturday with the leaders of agriculture and transport and proposed reducing the selective consumption tax on six types of fuel and achieved a truce for five days. The measure came into force on Monday after being published on Sunday in the official gazette.
The week started with new roadblocks in other regions, where face-to-face classes were suspended to avoid putting students at risk; and vandals looted service stations in Ica (south coast) and Piura (north coast). A hypermarket was robbed in Trujillo (north coast) and crime generated disturbances in Jaén (Cajamarca). Since noon, especially via Whatsapp and by word of mouth, there were intense unfounded rumors of looting in Lima. Some opinion leaders shared photos and videos of vandalized buses on Twitter in the past, but reported them as if they were acts committed on the day. At an exit point towards the Central Highway, east of the capital, a picket of protesters blocked a road for a few hours, but it was cleared by the police.
Although the Minister of Foreign Trade and Tourism, Roberto Sánchez, announced that there would be a council of ministers at night to seek solutions to the situation, the result was the decree of the state of emergency, which does not resolve the demands and, on the contrary, generates more problems in the daily lives of citizens. In February, the Government ordered a state of emergency in these two jurisdictions, for 45 days, so that the armed forces collaborate in the fight against crime. The norm indicates that the suspension of the rights to transit, assembly, personal security and the inviolability of the home is necessary to “protect public order and internal order, as well as the life and health of Peruvians.”
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