Wednesday, July 6

Peruvians protest in streets in defiance of curfew as anger spreads

Article content

LIMA — Hundreds of Peruvians took to the streets in capital Lima on Tuesday, defying a curfew issued by the government amid spiraling protests against rising fuel and fertilizer prices triggered by the Ukraine conflict.

Protesters, most of them wearing Peru’s white-and-red soccer jersey or flag, were trying to reach the national Congress, where Peruvian President Pedro Castillo is meeting with lawmakers.

The protests are a response to a sudden curfew mandate issued by Castillo minutes before midnight on Monday that ordered Lima residents to stay at home between 2 am and 11:59 pm

Article content

About a third of Peru’s 30 million people live in Lima. The government has said, without evidence, that the curfew was necessary to avoid lootings.

The fresh protests add to a broader crisis that started a week ago over surging prices that rattled Castillo, just days after he survived an impeachment trial.

Western sanctions on Russia have cut supply of oil and fertilizers, hurting fragile emerging economies like Peru. Like many countries, Peru was battling high inflation before the war started, but the conflict has accelerated a surge in the price of food, fuel and other essential items. Peru’s March inflation at 1.48% was the highest in 26 years.

Castillo rose to power last year with overwhelming support from Peru’s rural population, but rising prices have led that same group to stage the most significant protests so far in his administration.

Article content

Castillo’s popularity has waned quickly and now hovers at around 25%. He has survived two impeachment attempts and cycled through an unprecedented number of Cabinet members in his eight-month administration.

The lockdown order stunned many Limenos, as residents of the capital are known, who have taken to the streets to defy what they see as a violation of their civil liberties.

Peru’s ombudsman’s office filed an emergency motion to stop the lockdown, although the request has yet to be addressed by a judge.

His top deputy, Prime Minister Anibal Torres, said earlier on Tuesday that the government was considering expanding the lockdown to other cities in the interior of the country if the unrest does not stop. (Reporting by Marcelo Rochabrun Editing by Alistair Bell and Sandra Maler)