May 12, 2023
From Popular Resistance

Above Photo: Relatives mourn victims during a mass after the deadliest clashes in anti-government protests against Peru’s President Dina Boluarte, in Juliaca, Peru February 9, 2023. Pilar Olivares/Reuters.

The coup government has committed extra-judicial killings and other human rights abuses.

National Strike, Day 120

This past week marked the 5th month since the democratically elected President Pedro Castillo was ousted in a parliamentary coup. It also marks five months of popular mass mobilizations against the current coup regime led by Dina Boluarte and the far-right Congress, controlled by the Fujimori/Montesinos mafia. The past several weeks has also seen multiple publications from Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) confirming what Peruvians have already reported, that human rights abuses, including the use of indiscriminate force and extrajudicial killings, among others, occurred during the protests throughout Perú following the coup, with most of the violence concentrated primarily in the southern Andean regions. These reports, and several that have already been published by other human rights observers, confirm what the people on the ground have been protesting since December 7th of last year. Recommendations are made for impartial and independent investigations into these deaths and violations with a specific focus on racial and ethnic discrimination.

The coup regime continues to dig its heels in and denies responsibility by saying that “it’s just one NGO ” claiming Boluarte’s detractors are misogynists because she is the first woman head of state. The masses of people that have remained out in the streets and fighting to overturn this dictatorship say she is not the first woman president; she is the first woman dictator. They say this isn’t about being a woman, this is about the popular vote once again being denied to the primarily indigenous campesino and working class of the country who overwhelmingly voted to reject the failed 30-year neoliberal regime installed by a dictatorial constitution. This is about the masses of the working class, campesino and indigenous Peruvian people being the protagonists in the political sphere, whether by electing one of their own in Castillo, or by being active participants in a Constituent Assembly. The hollow “identity reductionism ” Boluarte used as justification for carrying out massacres, amounting to more than 80 deaths at this point, is more failed rhetoric to evade responsibility for those deaths. The president of the IACHR, Margarette May Macaulay , in responding to these remarks stated, “The president’s statement is disappointing, but these things usually happen”.

Both reports rely on hundreds of interviews, reviewed footage and photographs of the protests, and reviewed ballistics and autopsy reports of those killed, during the immediate aftermath of the coup and several months after, whether on the ground or remotely. They concluded that the Peruvian military and national police carried out extrajudicial killings, with the violence in Ayacucho amounting to a massacre, violated the constitutional rights to peacefully protest, arbitrary arrests, violations of the free press and that there was racial stigmatization against the mostly indigenous campesino protesters and their supporters in the capital city, among other abuses. This type of  animus was highlighted by HRW ’s report in the highland town of Ayacucho, “‘Fuck him,’ Bárcena Loayza recalled a military officer responding. ‘Terrorists deserve to die like that.’ The ambulance took the wounded back to the hospital. Hancco Chacca died in the early hours of December 17”. The Peruvian state and mainstream media outlets owned by some of the country’s richest families, have fueled this rhetoric against indigenous campesinos by calling them “terrorists”, “terrucos”, “senderistas”, “cholos” and “indios” (the last two being specifically racially charged disparaging indigenous peoples), allowing the over 80 deaths and other violations occurring to be whitewashed, according to the IACHR .

As the approval ratings for both Dina Boluarte and the Congress reach record lows, the coup government has hired an American PR firm to soften Boluarte’s image amidst all the continued protests and now human rights reports from multiple organs that confirm extrajudicial killings and other violations of international law, for which the state is responsible. Boluarte and her Prime Minister Alberto Ótarola have also begun to distance themselves from these accusations by stating that neither Dina Boluarte or any top official gave the order for these killings, thereby making the Chief of the National Police and of the Military the responsible party. Despite the findings of these reports, they both give credibility to the right-wing saying Castillo launched a failed coup attempt and that the constitutional orders were followed. This aspect of the reports has been denied by protesters, saying the impeachment itself was illegal, only reaching 101 votes and not the 104 required, and that the protocols for an impeachment were not followed. Of course the fact that IACHR is under the auspices of the Organization of American States, an organization dominated by US interests that greenlit massacres in the Andes in Bolivia in 2019, is not lost on the people.

The past several months has seen mass mobilizations and organization against this coup regime throughout the 25 regions of Perú and in the capital city, with multiple waves of provincial delegations traveling to the capital city, as well as erecting hundreds of blockades throughout the country as part of the national strike. While many delegations have gone back to their regions to continue the struggle in their own communities and as campesinos to harvest the lands, there are plans for an upcoming “Third Takeover of Lima ” which thousands of protesters are expected to mobilize for. There are daily concentrations in Lima outside of the Penal de Barbadillo, where Pedro Castillo, along with former dictator Alberto Fujimori, are held to demand the liberty and restitution of Castillo and coordinated strikes in the macro-regions while protesters are back in their home regions. They say they will not stop mobilizing, much less now that human rights reports have confirmed what the masses have denounced as killings and acts of human rights abuses which seem to be causing a rift in the coup regime between the heads of the Armed Forces and the executive and legislative powers.

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