Peru: Massacre, the Peruvian people demand justice, the road to a new constitution makes its way from the 4 suyos

By Sofía Martínez, ISL activist

The social outburst generated by the recent political crisis grows stronger and in the south of Peru they announce the beginning of the National Strike with mobilizations in all the regions, as well as the organization of “The March of the 4 suyos” and the deployment of numerous delegations to Lima, the capital city, the symbol of centralism, social fragmentation and discrimination.

Officially, the Ministry of Health (MINSA) has recognized 28 people killed by gunshot wounds, 4 of whom were minors. In addition, there are more than 350 injured, some of them severely and with a reserved prognosis. Many were transferred to be treated in Lima due to the precariousness or non-existence of adequate health services in their regions.

After the imposition of Dina Boluarte’s government and the declaration of a focused repression sustained with the announcement of a state of emergency in the regions raised in protest, the popular response has been to defy the government, continue the mobilizations and strengthen their organization. There were even actions on the holidays of December 24 and 25.

Peru has ended in mourning. The victims belong to the departments of Apurímac, Arequipa, Las Libertad, Cuzco, Junín; and the most terrible, Ayacucho, which was the target of savage military repression with a toll of 10 Peruvians dead. These events, far from silencing the protest, have enraged the population. The families in tears have had to bury their dead and the cries for justice have echoed throughout the country. The Peruvian people, submerged in deep sadness, have shown an admirable capacity for resilience, and the response to the insane violence of the government continues in the streets.

The Peruvian people’s request is as follows: the immediate resignation of Boluarte, the closure of Congress, the call for new elections in 2023 and a Constituent Assembly. These requests and others are part of the agreements reached at the recent meeting of the Macro South Region held on December 28.

The media narrative since the beginning of the protests has been to delegitimize them by accusing the protesters of being vandals, criminals and terrorists. There has even been talk of manipulation by alleged hoaxers who would be behind the protests. The pejorative practice of “terruqueo” with which anyone who protests is labeled a terrorist, has been normalized. Verbal violence in networks has overflowed, displaying racism and contempt for life.

The international media have published photographs (The New York Times) and videos (Reuters) of the massacre of the Peruvian people, the social networks have viralized on Tik Tok, Instagram and Facebook the full horror of the military repression, from raids, shots to the back of the neck, head shots, and even the death in real time of people who were hit by bullets or machine gun fire. Videos have been recorded of terna agents (National Police) being the provokers and instigators of the violence. There are also dozens of testimonies, hundreds of photographs and much evidence of flagrant human rights violations.

In Lima, they raided the offices of the Confederación Campesina del Perú and the Nuevo Perú Party, who in solidarity were sheltering Quechua-speaking peasants who were in Lima to demand their rights. In a crude attempt to accuse them of terrorism, they planted 4 machetes that they had bought and which had a label of origin. In the first hours they managed to identify a colonel in civilian clothes who directed the operation. He had no identification, but when asked by independent journalists he gave his name: Colonel Percy Huapaya Moreno, Dircote. On the grounds of the emergency declaration, they did not have a court order for the raid.  PNP General Oscar Arriola, head of Dircote (Directorate against terrorism), said that they raided this place because they had intelligence information that there were people suspected of causing disturbances hiding there. Finally, after being detained for more than 12 hours, they were released without having found any proof of such accusations.

On December 19, the National Human Rights Coordinator issued a statement expressing that there is no excuse for eliminating democratic guarantees and human rights, rejecting the militarization of the protest and growing authoritarianism. The Foreign Ministry has announced that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) will conduct a new visit to Peru in January 2023.

New scenario of social protest

The civic-military dictatorship of Boluarte has not achieved the effects of silencing the popular protest, the rejection of the president reaches 84% of disapproval (December IEP Survey) and the Congress of the Republic is in a similar situation, being obvious that Boluarte is only a puppet of the members of Congress and that she has direct responsibility in the murders committed; her government is stained with the blood of the people.

In addition to the demand that everyone should leave, that Congress should be closed and that the President should resign, there is an extremely important axis of struggle: the call for a Constituent Assembly. In the interior of Peru the regions are very determined in this objective, in Lima an interesting debate has been opened on the need for a new constitution. This also offers the opportunity to continue with the discussion of what kind of social pact we need; even questioning the electoral regulations that are changed at the whim of the power groups.

Lima will receive 2023 with the presence of delegations from the interior that will mobilize in the streets, and the whole of Peru, in its defense fronts and regional organizations, will continue in struggle and mobilization. They are the ones who are leading the struggles in the face of the crisis of leadership, the people continue to organize themselves with spontaneous self-organizations. Currently there are delegations that have camped in Plaza Manco Capac, in the district of La Victoria (Lima) and there are some actions of solidarity on the part of the university student movement, mainly from the University Federation of San Marcos (FUSM).

Groups of artists and cultural managers also undertook symbolic protest actions, both with murals in various streets of the city and with performances in front of television stations. No Peruvian media has broadcast the reports of the massacre and neither have they provided journalistic coverage to the relatives. The concentration of the media makes it clear that there is a control of the editorial lines and revives memories of the past Fujimori dictatorship.

Let’s keep strengthening the international solidarity

This period of struggle in which Peru is starting 2023 requires the broadest solidarity with concrete actions at embassies and consulates, with declaration that support the struggle of the Peruvian people.

For justice and reparations to the mourning families, for the attention and reparations to the injured, the bonds of brotherhood in the face of barbarism must be strong.

Our beautiful people and their heroic resistance calls today to give our best. There is no possible future within capitalism.

For a free, sovereign, plurinational and parity Assembly; for a government of the workers and the people.