LatinNews Daily - 16 January 2023

PERU: Protests force further cabinet reshuffle

On 13 January Peru’s President Dina Boluarte announced a partial cabinet reshuffle that saw interior minister, Víctor Rojas, replaced amid continued and fierce anti-government protests.


Rojas was one of several current and former ministers currently under investigation by the attorney general’s office for “genocide” related to the protests, and his replacement had been demanded by left-wing parties in congress. The other two ministers who were replaced on 13 January had resigned criticising the security forces’ violent response to the unrest. Their exit comes as the tide of public opinion seems to be turning against Boluarte’s young government; in a survey published yesterday (15 January) by local pollster Instituto de Estudios Peruanos (IEP), 71% of respondents disagreed with how Boluarte assumed the presidency following the impeachment of Pedro Castillo (2021-2022). Meanwhile, 60% of respondents said that the protests against her government were justified, while 30% said that Castillo’s “coup d’état” was “justified”.

  • Rojas, who alongside President Boluarte and five other current and former ministers is the subject of a genocide investigation related to the government’s response to the protests, was replaced by Vicente Romero Fernández. Romero has previously served as interior minister from 2017-2018 under former president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (2016-2018), and was commander of the national police from 2015-2017.
  • Boluarte also replaced two other ministers who in recent days had resigned criticising her response to the protests. Women’s minister Grecia Rojas Ortiz resigned on 13 January, joining labour minister Eduardo García Birimisa who had announced his resignation the previous day. In her resignation letter, Rojas said that general elections must be held this year in order to calm the unrest, joining several ex-ministers who have called for early elections.
  • A delegation from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) announced its preliminary findings on 13 January at the end of a three-day fact-finding mission to Peru. The head of the delegation, Stuardo Ralón, said that it had heard “multiple testimonies that indicate disproportionate use of force” by the security services, calling for the killing of protesters to be investigated. Deaths related to the unrest now number at least 50 after a man died at a roadblock yesterday in the northern city of Moyobamba (San Martín region).
  • In a televised address on 13 January, Boluarte said that “if we’ve got something wrong in our search for peace and calm, I ask the Peruvian people for forgiveness”. However, she emphasised that: “I’m not going to resign, my commitment is to Peru and not to this miniscule group that is making the country bleed.”
  • The national police announced on 13 January the arrest of three leaders of the Frente de Defensa del Pueblo de Ayacucho (Fredepa), an organisation that has helped coordinate protests in southern Peru. Fredepa’s president, Rocío Leandro Melgar, vice president, Stefany Alanya Chumbes, and secretary, Alejandro Manay Pillaca, were arrested in an operation related to Leandro Melgar’s alleged links to the Sendero Luminoso (SL) guerrilla group.

Looking Ahead: Boluarte issued an executive decree on 14 January declaring a 30-day state of emergency in the regions of Puno, Cusco, and in the capital, Lima, as well as certain provinces in the departments of Apurímac, Madre de Dios and Moquegua. This will see the armed forces deployed to contain the unrest, and the imposition of a night-time curfew in Puno. The latest, more targeted measures replace the nationwide state of emergency which expired on the same day that the latest version was announced.

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