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What's Behind Peru's Protests?

For the past two months, Peru has been faced with rising protests that have mainly been described as anti-government protesters who desire the country’s current president to step down.


NPR reported this unfolding event in simple summary, “The total death toll in confrontations in recent weeks is 58. Anti-government demonstrators want the president out and new elections. And the demands for political change are loudest in southern Peru, where the population is poor and largely Indigenous.”


As these voices continue to call for Peru’s President to step down and elect a new leader, understanding the factors behind this provides a clearer picture of why this is happening now.


Reuters explained that this all started when the former Peru President, Pedro Castillo was removed from office on December 7, 2022.


“Castillo, 53, was embroiled in multiple corruption investigations and tried to illegally dissolve Congress ahead of a planned impeachment vote. His removal was the latest blow in a years-long clash between Peru's executive and legislature.”


While there continue to be major clashes within Peru’s government and politics, the cracks began years earlier according to US News when the country was facing the end of its economic stability from the early 2000s to the mid-2010s. As the country began to be faced with economic uncertainty, Peru’s politics began to fracture into turmoil with the country having gone through six presidents in the past six years.


In the article by US News, Brian Winter, vice president of policy for the Americas Society and Council of the Americas stated, “I think that this has stopped being about Pedro Castillo and has become more about one of the real big divides in Peruvian society, which is rural versus urban and, to some extent, the elite versus the more Indigenous working class.”


This has been reflected in some of the various calls the protesters have been voicing. Some of these protesters have not just been calling for the resignation of the current president, but also a complete shake-up of their society. 


Foreign Policy wrote, “To some, the protests represent an uprising of Indigenous southerners against the Lima elite. To others, particularly as the protests and ensuing unrest spread, they are a test of whether the country’s democratic institutions can hold.”


With all of these different protesters wanting different goals, it is hard to tell if Peru will see these protests going away anytime soon.


For now, the protests rage on leaving tourists struggling to leave the country with some stranded at tourist sites located far away from nearby villages and towns as PBS News reports.


And as for current actions the government is undertaking, Peru’s president is currently calling for upholding an election to help calm down the protesters along with their demands for a new election to be held immediately as The Guardian writes.

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