Bishops lament deaths in protests in Peru, call for dialogue to restore peace

Peru Representatives of the Ombudsman's Office arrive to dissuade the protesters in Peru, December 2022. | Credit: ANDINA/Dissemination

The Peruvian Bishops’ Conference issued a statement “in view of the recent and painful events of violence” that the South American country is experiencing.

In a Dec. 12 message, the Peruvian bishops expressed their condolences to the relatives of those who died “as a result of the confrontation between protesters and law enforcement.”

The confrontations began after President Pedro Castillo on Dec. 7 declared a state of emergency, dissolved Congress, said he would rule by decree, and set a 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. curfew. Hours later, Congress in turn voted overwhelmingly for a motion to declare the office of the presidency vacant for moral incapacity on the part of Castillo.

In addition, at least eight government ministers, including Alejandro Salas, the minister of Labor and Employment Promotion, submitted their resignations.

Castillo’s attempted usurpation of power took place amid a large number of corruption accusations against him, in which relatives of the president are involved.

After his removal from office, the now former President Castillo was arrested, and Dina Boluarte took office Dec. 7 as the new president of the Republic of Peru. Boluarte served as minister of Development and Social Inclusion of Peru and is also being investigated for corruption.

The removal of Castillo from office and his arrest caused his followers to start a wave of violent protests in the country’s south, which so far has claimed the lives of at least five people.

During the demonstrations, followers of Castillo invaded the runway of the Arequipa airport, which had to be closed to guarantee operational security.

Also in Arequipa, protesters looted and set fire to the Gloria company’s milk plant.

In addition, at least 25 points on the Peruvian highway network were blocked in protests demanding the release of the dismissed Castillo and the dissolution of the Congress of the Republic.

The violent protests caused President Boluarte to declare a 60-day state of emergency in the Apurímac district.

Faced with these acts of violence, the Peruvian Bishops’ Conference called for “building bridges of dialogue” and asked that the National Police of Peru ensure the people’s safety.

The Peruvian bishops called for all institutions “to seek the stability of the country, because we cannot afford the luxury of misrule in our country.”

“Violence is not the solution to the crisis or to differences. No more acts of violence! No more deaths! Peru must be our priority!” the bishops said in their statement.

Finally, they invoked the Virgin of Guadalupe, whose feast was celebrated the day of their statement, to “guide us along paths of justice and peace.”

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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