Young people shot dead in the middle of the street. The beatings on defenseless people. All eyes lost for gummy balls. The fog of tear gas. The missing. The massacre of people for which the state neither accepts responsibility nor asks for forgiveness. Any Latin American following the political crisis, the mobilizations and the repressive response of the Peruvian government cannot help but recall his own outbursts. We already know the script, the actors too. Although the acts are new and timely, the sacrifices are the same. The supposedly democratic governments suddenly drop their masks as the people decide to end their silence. And their hand doesn’t tremble when the person on the other side is an indigenous person they have always seen as a servant. Imagine this servant becoming President with the voice of other servants.
As peasant leader Lourdes Huanca says, peasants and workers felt despised when the Peruvian elites, with all their racism and classism, insulted and underestimated Pedro Castillo. These are the people who put the body down and received projectiles because although they say democracy, it is not. With the reactivation of the old dictatorial gene we see how the repressive machinery is still well oiled, yesterday’s media makers are also kept alive for the war of storytelling and discrediting. Social discontent, civic organization and protest are fraudulently translated as communism, terrorism and vandalism in the mouths of power.
In Peru, the 90s returned to authoritarianism, coordinated newspaper front pages, parallel reality, politics as farce. The tanks are returning to the streets. Because there are things that have never gone away, like the neoliberal constitution of a dictator, Fujimori, who privileged a select few who would be able to kill before letting the people decide their future. Thousands of tribal peoples, historically neglected and ignored by those who have ruled the country for centuries, are mobilizing to demand the end of a government whose hands are stained with the blood of more than 50 dead. That’s called political maturity.
Their demands include the immediate resignation of Dina Boluarte, who is demanding that she be prosecuted for human rights abuses, the sacking of the congressional executive, and a transition period, new elections and a referendum for a constituent assembly. They do it out of political authority, out of social organization, out of exercising their rights, out of outrage and pain, out of everything the state denies them. The government’s response is cold, criminalizing, but above all discriminatory. It makes it clear that for them they are neither citizens nor interlocutors, let alone political subjects with class consciousness and strong identities. Boluarte does not lament the murders but glorifies his murderers.
“First of all, I would like to thank the flawless expulsion of the national police,” was his first sentence after the mobilization on Thursday. It looks like an achievement by someone desperate to take control of the situation. The word spotless and the word police in the same sentence is an affront to the uniformed bloodletting of the South. She threatens to open files for all violent activists, accuses the protesters of vandalism and seizure of power and breach of the rule of law, which she herself has torn to pieces. The police now have orders to shoot.
The last little dictator we had a few years ago, a certain Merino, who was in power for three days, had to resign because of two deaths. “Murderful Dina”, as she is now called, doesn’t want to leave even at 55. How many more deaths justify a resignation? We know that the Peruvian government has requested military personnel and weapons from a foreign country. As the polls make her look weaker and weaker as the majority of people think she should go, Boluarte remains determined that the state of emergency and the bullets will solve what she and her government cannot solve politically.
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Let it be known that there is nothing like democracy in Peru. The international community is expected to take a firm stand against this barbarism. A government that kills is a government without legitimacy. A president who comes to power constitutionally but behaves like a murderous dictator is someone the people have every right to overthrow.
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