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LATIN AMERICA | 26-01-2023 13:08

'We are not at war, we are united' – Indigenous Uro community joins Peru protests

The Uros, inhabitants of the floating islands on Lake Titicaca, also raised their voices this week in Peru's protests calling for the resignation of President Dina Boluarte.

The Uros, inhabitants of the floating islands on Lake Titicaca, have raised their voices this week, joining protests in Peru calling for the resignation of President Dina Boluarte.

"We are not at war, we are united" against the government, they proclaim on banners at a demonstration on the lake.

Amid Peruvian flags tied to motor rafts and traditional boats known as "caballitos de totora," hundreds of the indigenous community sailed for more than two hours on the waters of Titicaca, the border lake between Peru and Bolivia, to join the protests in the city of Puno, the mainland in this area of the Andean highlands.

From the islands of Uros and Taquile they came out to express their discontent with the Boluarte government over the 46 deaths from the demonstrations, which has turned Puno into the epicentre of the most violent protests shaking Peru for the last six weeks. 

On the waters of Titicaca, the world's highest navigable lake at an altitude of 3,812 metres, this ancestral community related to the Aymara people is angered by unrest in Peru.

They are among those now calling  for the resignation of Boluarte, who took office on December 7 following the ousting of leftist President Pedro Castillo, an indigenous, provincial leader who promised social improvements for these oft forgotten and poor southern regions.

Rita Suana was one of dozens of people from her community who, on Tuesday, boarded one of the small boats that followed a larger "caballito de totora," packed with protesters carrying banners and Peruvian flags.

"That's why we came together and left our islands and marched so that we could join this struggle," Suana told AFP.

Kevin Huatta, a resident of the island of Taquile, said his community does not want President Boluarte.

"In these more than 40 days of striking she is hurting us on the island of Taquile. We practically live off of tourism. We are asking for her resignation," he told AFP. 

Suana added that Boluarte "does not represent women."

"She has made us look bad because she has said: 'When Castillo comes out, I'll go with him, I'll resign'. But, so far, she has not resigned," she recalled. 

The Uros protesters went as far as the Plaza de Armas in Puno, as well as gathered at the doors of a church and expressed their anger at the situation in the country, which after more than 40 days of demonstrations with road blockades and 46 deaths, has particularly hit the tourism sector in these southern Andean areas, considered jewels of pre-Hispanic culture.

 

–– TIMES/AFP

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