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Lima (AFP) – Peruvian President Dina Boluarte urged protesters who had landed in Lima on Tuesday to demand Lima’s resignation so they could assemble “peacefully and calmly”.
The South American country has been rocked by more than five weeks of deadly protests since the overthrow and arrest of former president Pedro Castillo in early December.
Thousands of protesters from rural areas are expected to continue the crackdown on the government in Lima this week, although a state of emergency has been declared to try to maintain order.
Some have reached the capital, but many are still on their way.
Hundreds of members of the indigenous Aymara community were boarding buses from the city of Ilave in the Puno region, on the border with Bolivia, on Tuesday.
“I’m excited to go to Lima because the war is on, all Aymara blood brothers are going to war,” Julio Cesar Ramos told AFP before boarding a bus to Lima.
“It hurts me to see my country like this, so Aymara and Quechua brothers, we are one,” 28-year-old Roger Mamani told AFP.
At least 42 people have been killed in clashes between protesters and security forces, largely in the south and east of the country, according to Peru’s human rights ombudsman.
Various groups are demanding Boluarte’s resignation, the dissolution of parliament and new elections as soon as possible.
“We know they want to take Lima, considering everything that’s been coming up on social media on the 18th and 19th (Wednesday and Thursday),” Boluarte told the Peruvian Constitutional Court.
“I urge them to take Lima, yes but peacefully and calmly. I wait for them in the government seat to discuss their social agenda.”
However, he warned that the rule of law cannot be held hostage to the whims of a single group.
Demonstrators from all over Peru have arranged to meet in the capital to protest together, but it is still difficult to determine how many will come to Lima despite various announcements.
Protesters guarded nearly 100 road blocks in eight of Peru’s 25 divisions.
Security forces removed a barricade on the Panamericana Norte highway early Tuesday morning.
Boluarte said other barricades will also be removed in the coming hours.
Former president Castillo was impeached and arrested on December 7 after he attempted to dissolve the country’s legislature and administration by decree amid multiple corruption investigations.
Boluarte, who became Castillo’s vice-president, took his place, but despite being from the same left-wing party, his supporters dismissed him, accusing him of being a “traitor”.
© 2023 AFP