Peru’s new president, Dina Boluarte, proposed advancing the general election by two years, to April 2024, during a televised speech delivered early Monday amid ongoing protests across the country.
“Interpreting the will of the citizens… I have decided to take the initiative to reach an agreement with the Congress of the Republic to advance the general elections to April 2024,” Boluarte said in the televised address.
Boluarte last week became Peru’s first female president after lawmakers ousted her predecessor Pedro Castillo.
He initially ruled out early elections last week, but protests calling for political change erupted across the country, leaving at least two dead and prompting the United Nations Human Rights Office to express concern about escalating tensions.
“With the increase in violence as the protests in Peru continue, we are deeply concerned that the situation could escalate further,” said his spokeswoman, Marta Hurtado. “Given the number of protests, including strikes, planned for this week, we call on all involved to exercise restraint.”
Protests have erupted in cities across the country since last week in support of Castillo, who is currently under a seven-day preliminary arrest ordered by Peru’s Supreme Court of Justice.
Protesters have called for new general elections, the dissolution of Congress and the creation of a new constituent assembly, according to the radio and television station Radio Programas del Peru.
On Saturday, protesters also demonstrated in the city of Andahuaylas, leaving at least 20 people injured, including four police officers, according to Peru’s Ombudsman’s Office.
Peru’s Ministry of Health said late Sunday that two people died and three were hospitalized in the Apurímac region, where the Andahuaylas province is located, as a result of the protests.
On Monday, the Alfredo Rodríguez Ballón airport in southern Peru’s largest city, Arequipa, was temporarily closed due to protests, according to a statement from Peru’s Andean Airports, tweeted by the country’s Ministry of Transport and Communications.
“Our Alfredo Rodríguez Ballón airport in the city of Arequipa has been invaded by a group of protesters who have entered through the perimeter fence, destroying the security infrastructure and setting fire to the security checkpoint, which has endangered the safety of passengers. , of our equipment and of the air. operations at risk,” the statement read.
Images from the scene showed smoke in the distance as protesters walked down the airport runway.
The airport evacuated those inside the terminal, and later Monday, officials told local media that the situation was “under control.”
“The situation in Arequipa is under control, the police have control of the airport (inside). We ask citizens to exercise their right to protest but peacefully and not putting people’s lives at risk,” Ángel Manrique, from the Arequipa Ombudsman’s Office, said on Monday in an interview with local radio station RPP.
In footage from the southern city of Ica, a vehicle overturned and protesters blocked the streets. Police were seen clashing with protesters, who were throwing stones at the forces.
On Sunday, at least 50 people, including police officers and airport workers, were also “hostages” after attacks and “vandalism” by protesters at the Huancabamba de Andahuaylas airport, in the city of Andahuaylas, the Peruvian Airport Corporation reported. and Commercial Aviation said in a statement.
As a result, the airport has been closed, the organization said, adding that they have asked the national police for support and reinforcement to help “safeguard the lives of the people who are kidnapped.” The organization did not provide information on the status of the hostages.
The Corporation of Airports and Commercial Aviation of Peru accused the protesters of setting fire to the airport’s transmission room, the fuel room and surrounding the terminal with “acts of violence,” it said in a statement. He also said that the airstrip and essential equipment had been “seriously affected”.
The country has been on the brink of the abyss since Castillo’s removal last week.
Many Peruvians have been calling for a change in the political guard, according to a September poll by the Institute of Peruvian Studies (IEP), which found that 60% of those polled support early elections to renew both the presidency and Congress.
Boluarte’s ascension to the presidency will not necessarily alleviate Peru’s bitter and toxic political landscape.
Fernando Tuesta Soldevilla, professor of Political Science at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru (PUCP), told CNN that Boluarte “does not have a recognized political career. And without partisan support, political party or social organization behind it, she is weak from the beginning.
“Everyone knows when Dina Boluarte’s government started, but no one can be sure how long it will last,” he said.