Church in Peru condemns murder of police officer burned alive: ‘No more deaths!’

Peru protesters clash with police Protesters clash with members of the Peruvian riot police during a demonstration in the city of Cusco, Peru, on Jan. 11, 2023. | Photo by IVAN FLORES/AFP via Getty Images

The Standing Council of the Peruvian Bishops’ Conference condemned the murder of a policeman burned alive by a mob during violent protests taking place in the Puno region in the country’s south.

“We cannot go back to the dark times of terror that afflicted our country for 20 years. This situation deserves the vigorous and forceful rejection of all, and the urgent reaffirmation of the imperative call of: ‘No to violence, wherever it comes from! No more deaths! Life is sacred!’” the bishops said in a statement released Jan. 10.

In their message, the Peruvian bishops condemned the attack that occurred that morning on a National Police patrol in Puno, which took the life of noncommissioned officer José Luis Soncco Quispe, 29, who was burned alive inside a police vehicle.

In addition, the bishops sent their “heartfelt condolences to his relatives and to the National Police of Peru.”

They also sent their condolences to the families of the 17 civilians who died the day before during clashes between protesters and police around the airport in the city of Juliaca.

The prelates demanded that all the deaths be investigated and urged the protesters to “guarantee the transfer of the injured, allowing ambulances to come to the scene and leave for the hospitals.”

The Peruvian bishops reiterated that “the only lord of life and death is God.”

Since Dina Boluarte was appointed by Congress to the presidency of Peru, there have been violent demonstrations throughout the country demanding her resignation, new elections, and for Congress to shut down.

Other groups are demanding the convening of a Constitutional Assembly and the release of former President Pedro Castillo, who is still under arrest after attempting a failed power grab.

The confrontations between protesters and law enforcement began after then President Castillo on Dec. 7, 2022, 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 and proceeded to appoint Boularte as the new president.

Along with the deaths on Jan. 9, nearly 50 Peruvians have died since the start of the social unrest.

“We ask Our Lord and his Blessed Mother to enlighten us for the construction of true peace in our beloved country,” the Peruvian bishops concluded in their statement.

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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