Stop Press (17 November): On Sunday 15 November, interim president Manuel Merino stepped down after another wave of protests due to the killing of two demonstrators during the marches in Lima. Human rights activists reported that that more than 40 others were missing after police brutally attacked largely peaceful demonstrations. The Peruvian congress voted to appoint Francisco Sagasti as interim president. Sagasti belongs to the only political party that voted against former President Vizcarra’s impeachment – the action that sparked the nationwide outrage in the first place. He will be Peru’s interim president until elections in April 2021.
On Monday 9 November, Peru tumbled into political turmoil when the congress voted for the impeachment of President Martín Vizcarra, accusing him of corruption. Since then, Peruvians across the country have been protesting to voice their anger. Most marches have been peaceful, but in Lima some groups clashed with the police, who fired tear gas to disperse the crowds and create chaos.
The political move, which many in Peru have called a coup or a parliamentary coup, came as a surprise for many as an earlier vote in September 2020 to impeach the president failed. In addition, elections were scheduled for April 2021, so why act now?
A political crisis couldn’t come at a worse time, as the nation struggles with one of the world’s highest Covid-19 mortality rates. President Vizcarra has denied allegations that he accepted bribes when he was governor of the southern Moquegua region. His accusers, themselves accused of corruption, are informing against Vizcarra in exchange for a lighter sentence. Likewise, in the national congress, numerous members who voted to impeach the president are themselves believed to be involved in corruption and crime. The nation is hurt and tired, and demanding real political change.
This is nothing new in a country that has many oppressed, unheard voices. As Diamira Daza Valenzuela, one of our photo collaborators, says: ‘It is a pleasure to share these moments – a peaceful march brought together the many people who want a change, not only now but for many generations. Cusco has been renowned for its combative resistance, since Tupac Amaru, Tomasa Ttito Condemayta and people such as my grandparents who fought since the Agrarian Reform. Now it’s my turn.’
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Most images in the current media are released from Lima, as the biggest marches were held in the capital. Our photo essay focuses on some of the regional cities in Peru, where thousands of protesters have taken over the streets as well.
These images have been sent in from Peruvian colleagues in Cusco, Cajamarca and Trujillo.