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LATIN AMERICA | 07-04-2022 13:20

One protester dead, several injured in clashes with Peru police following protests

Under-fire Peru President Pedro Castillo calls off a curfew in Lima aimed at curbing nationwide protests against rising food and fuel prices but unrest continues.

A farm worker who took part in a road block protest in Peru died Wednesday following clashes with police. Several others were injured, a hospital said.

The violence came a day after President Pedro Castillo called off a curfew in Lima aimed at curbing nationwide protests against rising food and fuel prices.

"Fifteen injured people have come in, we have one seriously injured. There is a civilian who came in dead as a result of the conflict," Carlos Navea, the director of the hospital in Ica, some 300 kilometres (180 miles) south of Lima, said on Facebook.

Navea said 12 police officers and three civilians were injured.

A farm workers leader told RPP radio the dead man was a 25-year-old from Huancavelica who worked for a company in Ica, a fertile region that serves as a hub of the Peruvian agricultural sector.

The clashes broke out on Wednesday morning after police tried to break up a blockade by dozens of farm workers on the Pan-Americana Highway, the country's most important artery for people and goods.

 

Tensions building

Tensions had been building in Peru since Monday when truckers called for a strike and protests broke out in Lima, Ica and other parts of the country over rising food and fuel prices.

Castillo reacted late on Monday night by calling a curfew in Lima and the neighbouring port city of Callao — together home to 10 million people — on Tuesday. While Lima was under curfew, protests continued and roads were blocked in several smaller cities elsewhere in Peru.

Widespread public backlash and pressure from the right-wing opposition dominated Congress prompted the leftist Castillo to lift the curfew late on Tuesday afternoon.

"We will with immediate effect remove this immobility [curfew]," said the leftist leader, alongside Congress president María del Carmen Alva, on Tuesday. "We call on the Peruvian people to be calm." 

Clashes then broke out on Tuesday night in Lima following marches in several parts of the city with demonstrators chanting: "Castillo out!" Buildings and shops were vandalised, and the interior minister said 25 police officers were injured.

It is the first time in the 52-year-old leader’s eight months in power that he has faced a social protest movement.

 

The days ahead

Like much of the rest of the world, Peru's economy is reeling from damage wrought by the coronavirus pandemic.

In an attempt to appease protesters, the government over the weekend eliminated a tax on fuel and decreed a 10 percent increase in the minimum wage from May 1. 

The General Confederation of Workers of Peru — the country’s main trade union federation — has remained defiant and called for more protests on Thursday.

 

— TIMES/AFP
 

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