Police to dismantle road-blocks set by protesters in Peru

Protests in Lima

The road-blocks set up across Peru by demonstrators demanding the resignation of the country’s president will be dismantled, officials have said.

Police and the military are preparing to mount a joint operation, according to the defence and interior ministries.

Supporters of former President Pedro Castillo took to the streets after he was impeached and arrested for trying to dissolve Congress in December. They want his successor Dina Boluarte to quit and hold fresh elections.

The ministry of the interior tweeted that “blocking communication routes is a crime” and said that 10 people had already died because ambulances could not get through roadblocks.

Earlier in January, Peru’s human rights watchdog reported two deaths as a result of blockades in the northern La Libertad region – a 51-year-old woman and a teenager who “lost her baby”.

The blockades have also resulted in shortages of fuel and food in several regions.

Local media reported that some cities had seen the price of food, such as potatoes and tomatoes, increase three-fold because roadblocks had left delivery lorries stranded.

“The Peruvian national police, with the support of the armed forces, will unblock the national network of highways that have been the subject of a state of emergency,” the ministry’s statement said.

On Wednesday, Ms Boluarte called for a “national truce” – but following her speech, thousands of people took to the streets of the capital, Lima, demanding her resignation.

Ms Boluarte became president in December following Mr Castillo’s impeachment and removal from office following a botched attempt to dissolve Congress.

More than 50 people have died in the subsequent unrest, which continues across the country.

The government has been accused of using excessive force in its efforts to quell the protests, and Peru’s ombudsman said that, of the 56 people who have died in the unrest, 46 were involved in clashes with the security forces.

The governors of the southern Puno, Cusco and Apurimac regions have also called for the president’s resignation and, earlier this week, opposition politicians submitted a motion to impeach Ms Boluarte. She has resisted calls to step down and has asked Peruvians to ensure their protests are peaceful.

The country’s valuable tourism industry has taken a hit from the continuing unrest, with the famous tourist site of Machu Picchu closing indefinitely earlier this month. Hundreds of people were stuck for hours at the foot of the 15th Century Inca citadel before being rescued.

The Economy and Finance Ministry estimated the economic cost to the nation of the protests at 2.15 billion soles ($554m) so far.


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