In total more than 100 thousand people mobilized throughout the country, calling for the resignation of the coup leader Dina Boluarte in Peru. Again there were arrests and injuries. In spite of a gigantic repressive operation and a campaign of fear for several weeks, a multitude participated in the streets of the so-called Third Seizure of Lima this July 19. The central demands were, besides the departure of Boluarte and the resignation of the entire Congress, a Constituent Assembly to re-found the country. Regarding former president Pedro Castillo, an important sector of the organizations demanded his reinstatement in office, while other sectors demanded immediate elections.
The operation of the repressive forces included police barriers in public buildings, hydrant cars, motorcycles, and the presence of tanks as part of the intimidation of the people. At the end of the mobilization, when the columns tried to reach the Congress, they were repressed with tear gas. At least six people were seriously injured, and arrests were made.
Among the organizations present were the Central Única Nacional de Rondas Campesinas del Perú (CUNARC), the Confederación General de los Trabajadores del Perú (CGP), teachers, Quechua and Aymara, markets and various human rights and gender collectives, as well as a massive block of artists who provided color, music, and interventions to the mobilization.
Parallel to the Lima Takeover, mobilizations were held in 53 points of the country that also sent their delegations to the central activity in the capital, and seven national roads were blocked during the day. The march in Lima started from different important squares of the city, but it was a united column that went through government buildings and ended in Plaza San Martin.
Among the delegations from the regions that traveled to Lima were the Central Unica de Rondas Campesinas de Huancamba, Piura region. Its president, Jesús Raúl Meléndez de Guayama, explains that, to the general demands of the Toma, they add a historical struggle of their people against predatory mining. “We have been fighting for 20 years, during which we were persecuted and repressed for opposing the Río Blanco mining project. The usurper president, Dina Boluarte, wants to give the green light to the mining concessions, she wants to renew them, despite the fact that they do not have a social license”. And he adds, “That is why we have come from here to support our Peruvian people and to demand that this government resign and also that this corrupt Congress be closed and that a referendum be held for a new constitution.”
Nicolás Aguilar Ibarra, a member of the Lima-based Emancipador Group and a militant with extensive union experience, describes the mobilization as a moment to accumulate forces on the road to Dina’s dismissal. “The coup d’état was managed from the US Embassy so the struggle is not only for the restitution of Castillo, but for a change of this neoliberal system that comes managed from the north and among other things made that only 5 percent of the economically active population has a registered job and can organize,” he stated. For the interviewee, the demand for a Constituent Assembly could also be a unifying process to change the neoliberal character of Peru.
In Plaza 2 de Mayo, the campaign “No more deaths for protesting” carried out an intervention with crosses and coffins mentioning the names of the more than 60 dead from last summer’s repression. Abel Gilbonio, spokesperson for the Campaign, explained that the Campaign also groups together a group of environmental defenders who denounce police murders prior to the protests against Dina in territorial conflicts. “It is a nationwide articulation, mainly located in the south of the country and also in Lima that brings together collectives, environmental defenders, human rights institutions, etc. that are pushing and raising this slogan to stop the indiscriminate use, the criminal use of public force against the legitimate right of citizen protest.” He points out that the campaign tries to confront people’s fear to mobilize. “Years ago we went out to protest and well, we knew there could be confrontation, but now people are afraid, because they are afraid of being criminalized, of being accused of being terrorists, or the maximum, of being killed.”
Regarding the relationship between extractivist projects and the coup d’état, Abel affirms that “there is a whole impulse after December 7 to implement a number of mining projects in the country. The environmental defenders who have constantly suffered repression, criminalization and assassination in the country’s mining territories are currently the territories that are the most active, for lithium, for copper, which is needed in other latitudes and Peru is rich in it. And we know that there is a whole scaffolding from the Ministry of Energy and Mines to speed up mining projects at the expense of the right to territory, the right to the environment, the right to health of the communities and indigenous populations”.
The collective “Retablos por la memoria” mobilized carrying a huge banner with the slogan “No woman with Dina” on one side, with beautifully painted faces of women fighters against the current dictatorship on the back. It also made a participatory intervention in 100 illustrated posters, with space for demonstrators to place their demands and take them to the march. Isabel, one of the members of this collective of women artists, explains that they had the idea of using this small square format, typical of the Ayacucho region, as a novel way to creatively visualize the demands of the mobilizations.
Regarding the phrase they chose to head their column, “No Woman with Dina,” they commented that it alludes to the fact that the current de facto president, in her speeches, uses the figure of a woman to manipulate other women, saying that she is a woman, that she is a mother, that she cares; it is a bit of a manipulation resource, not that she calls herself a feminist, but she more or less wants to go that way, and the idea of this slogan of making this large commemorative tableau is a bit to counteract that manipulation”.
These are just some of the organizations, experiences, and sectors mobilized in this Third Lima Seizure within the framework of a diversity of subjects. Among them, a high number of self-convened people who decided to go out despite the growing criminalization of a de facto regime with an opposition of 95 percent of the population. Undoubtedly, having managed to overcome fear and return to the streets en masse is an effective antidote against a state dominated by a concentrated, violent, and deeply racist group that fears the people. The struggle for the freedom of the detainees, the release of fighters, and justice for the crimes of this dictatorship continues.
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