At least 17 deaths were reported this Monday night, January 9, in Juliaca, Peru, during protests demanding the resignation of Dina Boluarte; the release of President Pedro Castillo, overthrown on December 7; and a Constituent Assembly to draw up a new constitution. With this new massacre, the official number of deaths as the result of the crisis triggered by the coup of President Pedro Castillo has risen to 46.
The Peruvian Ombudsman’s Office confirmed at first that there were nine deaths caused by clashes between protesters and security forces in the vicinity of the Juliaca airport, in the department of Puno, in the southeast of the country.
At 5:30 p.m. local time, the San Román Health Network updated the number of fatalities to 12, with 38 injured. A few hours later, Eliana Revollar, ombudsperson, told Channel N that the number of deaths had risen to 14; later still, this figure increased to 17.
#ReporteCrisisPolítica y protesta social de @Defensoria_Peru. A las 9:00 p. m. del 9/1/2023 registramos 17 personas fallecidas en #Juliaca y 1 por hechos vinculados al bloqueo de vías en #Chucuito, #Puno.👉🏾https://t.co/kkAIRO9lw5 pic.twitter.com/ISCXTpeGBQ
— Defensoría Perú (@Defensoria_Peru) January 10, 2023
The general strike against the coup is now in its seventh day, with barricades cutting off highways at 45 different points across the country. The indigenous Aymara region of Puno, which borders Bolivia, has been the epicenter of social protest. Other hotspots include Arequipa, Cusco, Tacna, and Amazonian cities such as Pucallpa and Ucayali, reported Bolivian news outlet Kawsachun News.
Meanwhile, the ombudsperson requested that security forces exert “legal, necessary and proportional use of force” in an attempt to call for more restraint, and urged the Prosecutor’s Office to carry out a rapid investigation to clarify the facts.
One of the victims was Marco Samillán Sanga, a medical intern at the National University of the Altiplano, who was hit by bullets while treating another wounded demonstrator.
Una de las 17 víctimas de la violenta represión de hoy en Juliaca era Marco Samillán Sanga, interno de Medicina de la Universidad Nacional del Altiplano, mi más sentido pésame a los familiares. pic.twitter.com/D1l6XzXDn2
— Victor Zamora Mesía (@victorzamora) January 10, 2023
According to local media, another victim was identified as 35-year-old Gabriel Omar López, shot in the head by police in Juliaca.
According to RPP, the brother of the deceased young man said that Gabriel López did not participate in the demonstrations. The victim’s wife told the local press that her partner was selling ice cream and was returning home when they found themselves in the middle of a confrontation with police.
Leader of the coup regime Dina Boluarte confirmed the death of this young man in a session for the National Agreement. “A civilian has just died in Puno… where they are still rising up in protests, for what, it is not clear,“ said Boluarte, feigning ignorance while the social movements issue clear demands, including her immediate resignation.
#PUNO | Imágenes dolorosas. Un asesinado y decenas de heridos tras brutal represión a la ciudadanía que rechaza acciones del gobierno de Dina Boluarte y reclama el cierre del Congreso. #VocesComunitarias
Fotos: Mas Nina / @PachamamaRadio_ 👇🧵 pic.twitter.com/CjVsBaXpXL
— 🇵🇪 Wayka📢 (@WaykaPeru) January 9, 2023
Boluarte added that she cannot respond to all the four demands of the protesters to stop the protests, in an attempt to evade her responsibility and the responsibility of the Peruvian Congress in the current democratic crisis.
“I have already explained to you that the four political demands are not in my hands,” said Boluarte. “The only thing that was in my hands were the early elections, and we already proposed that. In peace and order everything can be achieved, in the midst of violence and chaos it becomes more complicated, it becomes difficult.”
President Pedro Castillo had warned protestors and his supporters, in a letter smuggled out of his prison cell, that they should not fall for the coup regime’s ruse of promising early elections.
At the end of December, Congress ruled, in the first vote, to advance general elections to April 2024.
State of siege decreed
Peruvian de facto Prime Minister Alberto Otárola announced on January 10 a three-day state of siege in the department of Puno in a desperate attempt to control the popular uprising. “Today, a Supreme Decree has been approved by the Council of Ministers that declares mandatory immobilization in Puno for a period of three days from 8:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m,” said Otárola. “This is to safeguard the life, integrity, and freedom of all citizens,” declared the minister before Congress, while requesting a vote of confidence.
Los peruanos que han sido asesinados por defender el país de la dictadura golpista serán inmortalizados en la historia de nuestra gran patria. El terror es el último cartucho de un régimen arrinconado por el pueblo. Dina Boluarte y la Fiscal de la Nación hoy se esconden.
— Pedro Castillo Terrones (@PedroCastilloTe) January 10, 2023
For his part, Castillo, who is serving 18 months in pretrial detention for committing the alleged crime of rebellion, referred this Tuesday (January 10) to the protests, and accused the Boluarte regime of murdering Peruvians.
“The Peruvians who have been assassinated for defending the country from the coup dictatorship will be immortalized in the history of our great homeland,” wrote Castillo from his prison cell. “Terror is the last ammunition of a regime cornered by the people. Dina Boluarte and the nation’s prosecutor are hiding today.”
The uprising in Peru lasted approximately 10 days in December 2022, before an end of year pause, and it has been active, via the national strike, for the last seven days—a total of 17 days of protests in which at least 46 Peruvians have been killed by repressive forces, an average of almost three deaths per day of protests. This bloody reality has deeply discredited the Boluarte regime and local analysts forecast her possible resignation.
(Alba Ciudad) with Orinoco Tribune content
Translation: Orinoco Tribune