Clashes in Lima as thousands rally against Peru government


Thousands marched through Peru’s capital Thursday in a large anti-government rally punctuated by clashes with police, while the death toll from over a month of violent protests climbed in the country’s southern regions.

Some of the Lima protesters, who are demanding the resignation of President Dina Boluarte and fresh elections, threw stones and bottles at officers in the city centre, AFP reporters saw.

The police were forced to temporarily retreat before they dug in behind riot shields and began deploying tear gas. At least two people were injured.

One building near the central Plaza San Martin caught fire, though it was not immediately clear how.

Peru has been rocked by protests since the ouster of Boluarte’s predecessor, Pedro Castillo, in early December — though violent clashes have largely been isolated thus far to the country’s south and east.

In the southern city of Arequipa, some 1,000 protesters tried early Thursday to storm the airport, but were also repelled by police firing tear gas, local television showed.

Peru´s human rights ombudsman later announced that one person had been killed in Arequipa, adding to two other deaths resulting from clashes on Wednesday and raising the nationwide death toll to 45.

The demonstrators in Lima, who are mostly from Andean regions, set off from several points around the capital with the aim of reaching the heavily-guarded presidential palace by the end of Thursday.

“Dina listen, the people disown you,” they chanted, while others called for the president to be assassinated.

“We are here, fighting for our just cause. We want them to close Congress,” villager Ayda Aroni, who came from Ayacucho, 330 kilometers (205 miles) southeast of Lima, told AFP.

“We are marginalized, they say we´re vandals, they call us terrorists, we´re demanding our rights.”—AFP