Jan 23, 2023

The latest on Peru’s Escalating Anti-Government Protests Transcript

The latest on Peru’s Escalating Anti-Government Protests Transcript
RevBlogTranscriptsDina BoluarteThe latest on Peru’s Escalating Anti-Government Protests Transcript

Demonstrators in the streets of Lima, Peru are vowing to keep demanding the president’s resignation, despite a strong police response and mounting death toll. Read the transcript here.

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John Yang (00:00):

Good evening, I’m John Yang. In the streets of Lima, Peru, demonstrators are vowing to keep demanding the president’s resignation despite a strong police response and a mounting death toll. At least 55 people are dead and 700 are injured. The worst political violence the country has seen in more than two decades began last month in rural regions and has now engulfed the capitol city.

Overnight in Lima, more violent clashes between protestors and police. Demonstrators, some waving the Peruvian flag, others pushing and shoving the police, faced a wall of riot shields. Tear gas and smoke from fires clouded the streets. Dozens of people were injured. The protestors, many from Peru’s farthest reaches had arrived in Lima this week by bus and by foot to fine the government’s declaration of a state of emergency to demand the resignation of President Dina Boluarte.

Jose De La Rosa (01:03):

[foreign language 00:01:03] We want the usurper, Dina Boluarte to step down and call for new elections. Protests will continue. The south of the country is riotous at the moment.

John Yang (01:11):

The protest erupted across the country. Last month after former president Pedro Castillo was removed from office and arrested. Threatened with impeachment on corruption charges, Castillo had tried to dissolve Congress and install an emergency government. Boluarte, who was vice president, became president.

Speaker 3 (01:35):

We are headed to Lima to fight. We are here for the wounded for the many deaths caused by this de facto government.

John Yang (01:43):

Castillo was Peru’s first leader from the rural Andes region, campaigning on the slogan, “No more poor people in a rich country,” he promised to address longstanding issues of poverty and inequality. His ousters angered his rural and Indigenous supporters, underscoring their alienation from leaders in Lima.

Yorbin Herrera (02:05):

We have come to defend our country considering that we are under a dictatorship, a militarists government, which has stained our country with blood.

John Yang (02:14):

Protestors want immediate new elections to pick a new Congress and they want a new constitution.

Alvelio Sanchez (02:21):

What we demand is the resignation of President Dina Boluarte. Also, we want the closure of Congress and new elections for 2023.

John Yang (02:31):

So far, President Boluarte has been defiant. ,

President Dina Boluarte (02:37):

That was not a peaceful protest. The violent acts that occurred in December and January will not go unpunished. I will not get tired of inviting those who are protesting, those who have moved from the provinces toward the capital for dialogue. I will not get tired of telling them, “Let’s work on the vision this country needs.”

John Yang (02:59):

Yesterday before the latest violence in Lima, I spoke with Julie Turkewitz, the Andes’ Bureau Chief for the New York Times. I asked her what she saw on a recent reporting trip to Southern Peru.

Julia Turkewitz (03:11):

In the last month, I’ve been to two different parts of real Peru. The difference between the situation of Lima and the situation outside of Lima is pretty stark. The protests were happening outside of the Capital. You saw a lot of roadblocks. You saw a lot of parts of the country that were really paralyzed, and a lot of anger that is happening outside of the city. And that anger is extremely present, for example, in Juliaca, in Cusco, in Ayacucho. And he really didn’t see it on the streets in Lima.

John Yang (03:43):

What does that tell us? That this difference between the scene in Lima and the scene on the countryside, what does that tell us about what’s going on?

Julia Turkewitz (03:52):

These protests, I think, really demonstrate a rural urban divide in Peru that has existed really for generations and generations, where a lot of people in rural parts of the country feel that the government, that the country’s democracy is really only functioning for a select group of people. And so, what you see in a lot of rural parts of the country is that people feel that security hasn’t come to them, that economic success hasn’t come to them, that opportunities for good education hasn’t come to them. That divide in many ways has been exacerbated by the pandemic, which hit the country very hard, by a drought that has also hit the country very hard, by inflation, which has caused prices to rise really fast in the country. And people are frustrated by their current conditions, poverty inequality, but more than that, people are frustrated by a democracy that they don’t believe is working for them, that they don’t believe serves them in the way that it should.

John Yang (05:03):

What is it that the protestors want?

Julia Turkewitz (05:05):

These protests began as this anger over the arrest on the removal of former President Castilla. And so at first, people were asking for his restitution and they were asking for, if that didn’t happen, new elections as quickly as possible. The sort of demands have grown from there and people are asking for a new constitution. And when we were in [foreign language 00:05:32], in rural Peru, we saw signs calling for like a new homeland. And the frustration has reached such a level that people are sort of calling for a whole new system. What that new system is, is not clear.

John Yang (05:48):

Is this any in any way, say anything or tell us anything about democracies across South America? Across Latin America?

Julia Turkewitz (05:56):

What we have seen in Latin America in the last 15 to 20 years is definitely a decline in trust in individual democracies, and decline in satisfaction with democracies, and the sort of level of dissatisfaction and the level of distrust is particularly acute in Peru.

John Yang (06:18):

Peru certainly is no stranger to political turmoil, is it?

Julia Turkewitz (06:21):

It’s a country that has seen six presidents in the last five years. And I think what that has really led to, or contributed to is a real distrust in how the country’s democracy functions. There is a study that has been really critical for us in understanding what’s happening in the country that shows that just 21% of Peruvians are satisfied with their democracy. 88% believe that at least 50% of their politicians are corrupt. Kind of gives you an idea of how people feel about the government.

John Yang (07:03):

There have been allegations of human rights abuses in these protests.

Julia Turkewitz (07:07):

There are many human rights groups who have accused the police of acting disproportionately against protestors, who in some cases have been violent. I mean, they’ve vandalized, they’ve burned buildings, but the police and the military of course, have guns and a lot of these people have died from bullet woods.

John Yang (07:29):

Is there any resolution in sight?

Julia Turkewitz (07:32):

One of the main asks and demands of the protestors is that the new president resigns and she was initially an ally of Pedro Castillo’s, but she has really dug in her heels and she is not giving any signs that she will sort of acquiesce to protestors demands. And if that doesn’t happen, I think this is going to keep going.

John Yang (07:59):

Julie Turkewitz of the New York Times. Thank you very much.

Julia Turkewitz (08:02):

Thank you.

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