Long-term solutions to the country’s crisis are required – but the priority must be to rein in brutal security forces
Peru’s president is its seventh in six years. It may soon be on its eighth. As vice-president, Dina Boluarte legitimately inherited the top job when Pedro Castillo was ousted and detained last month after attempting a “self-coup” – dissolving the congress in the hope of avoiding a third impeachment trial. But the deadly violence turned upon protests by his supporters has increased the anger. Thirty-nine civilians and one police officer have now died, with 17 killed on Monday alone in the southern region of Puno. Even by the security forces’ brutal standards, this is an appalling escalation. The UN human rights office demanded an investigation and Peru’s top prosecutor has now opened a genocide investigation into the new president.
Peru has struggled to establish political stability since its return to democracy in 2000 after the ousting of the autocrat Alberto Fujimori, now serving a 25-year sentence on human rights abuse and corruption charges. The situation deteriorated from 2016, particularly with the emergence of Fujimori’s daughter Keiko as a political force on the right. One of Mr Castillo’s predecessors lasted just a week. Congress and presidents are unable to function together, with many legislators essentially dedicated to pursuing their own economic interests – even exploiting the current chaos by pushing through unpalatable new measures, including removing essential protections for Indigenous peoples, with little attention.