Peru, a People's Movement to Overthrow, by Luis Hernández Navarro
«In Peru, a structurally racist and classist nation with Lima’s oligarchy lording over the provinces, a huge army of precariat, a systematic subrogation of services and the endemic persecution of activists has led to an upsurge of old grievances» writes Luis Hernández Navarro.
By Luis Hernández Navarro
⌛ 5 minutes
The south of Peru burns. Angry at the usurpation of the popular will, and at the State’s incessant repression, demonstrators burned down banks in Yunguyo, in the department of Puno. They did the same at the police station in Triunfo, Arequipa. In the Antapaccay mining company compound in Cuzco, the people seized assets of the corporation, and set fire to its facilities. The fires have likewise burned down television channels and multiple politicians' residences.
The list of documented protests across Peru is endless. Most of them are peaceful, which does not deter police violence against the people. According to the Ombudsman's Office, 78 points in 23 provinces were blocked on January 22.
There have been takeovers of airports, road, bridge and railroad pickets; according to State bureaucrats, 14 attacks against judicial headquarters have been reported, and 7 fires in such buildings; simultaneously, 34 protests against police stations, four of which were turned into bonfires.
And, of course, the massive occupation of Lima.
The people’s anger overflows in many regions. Congressmen, such as the pro-Fujimori Tania Tajamarca, were thrown out with stones when they returned to their districts. But popular anger does not distinguish political parties. Are you happy with the results, Mrs. Susel? How does it feel to go to sleep every day with 52 dead people? complained a woman to parliamentarian Susel Paredes, an LGTB activist.
The pyres have not been lit by small radical groups. They are, together with the road blockades, the clashes with the police and the seizure of public offices, the work of the ongoing popular uprising. It is a modern Fuente Ovejuna that grows beyond political parties, fed by peasant associations, popular groups that have the territory as their identity, petty traders, teachers, indigenous communities, truck drivers, unions and student collectives. It is the return of the Four Regions Together (Tawantinsuyo, in Quechua).
The heterogeneous and diverse popular movement that moves through the country like the magma of a volcano does not claim particular demands. The protagonists have set aside their specific concerns. They are, from the outset, a power to remove the old political regime, demanding the resignation of the de facto usurper, that of its current head of State, president Dina Boluarte, and that of Congress.
Without formulating it in this way, it maintains a kind of "let them all go!” motto. It demands new national elections, and a referendum through a constituent assembly, in addition to the release of Pedro Castillo. The most recent survey by the Institute of Peruvian Studies indicates that 69 percent of those consulted agree with modifications to the Peruvian constitution.
In a structurally racist and classist country like Peru, with the oligarchy of Lima lording it over the provinces, an enormous army of precarious workers, the systematic subrogation of works and services and the endemic political persecution of social fighters, the popular revolt underway is also fed by old grievances, which today emerge at the surface. Fueled by rage and social rancor, it is a movement for dignity, expressed in a political language.
The Peruvian State, wrote Héctor Béjar, one of the great intellectual and ethical-political references of that nation, is a ship full of holes, sailing without a compass and without a captain. The captains are fleeting. They arrive thinking about what they are going to take with them. It is a State in a situation of incapacity, in which it cannot do anything, because everything has to be procured through private companies. A State that is a powerhouse in the field of copper production, and yet has not been able to prevent 41 large mining contracts from being paralyzed by the communal resistance, nor does it have the strength to begin to renegotiate the pacts signed by Fujimori that expire in 2023.
A State that is a power in copper production and yet has not been able to prevent 41 large mining contracts from being paralyzed by the resistance of the communities…
The movement has a start date (December 7), but there is no end in sight. Its permanence is surprising, in spite of the savage repression of the de facto civilian-military government, which has declared the suspension of constitutional guarantees, and assassinated more than 60 people. Its advance in waves; its intelligence to retreat during the Christmas holidays, only to reemerge with more vigor, and convening capacity at the end of the festivities was worth remarking; its power to organize a new March of the Four of Their Own, similar to the one that in 2000 marked the beginning of the end of Fujimori's dictatorship, while it controls the south of the country; the solidarity networks that feed, host, supply water, transport, heal and protect it.
With its own specificities, the Peruvian uprising for the removal of the present regime joins the cycle of popular mobilizations-from-below that have shaken Ecuador, Chile, Colombia and Bolivia in recent years. As these South American experiences show, their outcome is uncertain. History does not advance in a straight line.
Big transnational mining capital demands stability and security to conduct its operations, and it will use all its resources and influence to maintain the status quo.
Although the decision to repress popular insubordination has broad consensus in the Peruvian right wing, the Boluarte regime is unviable in the mid-term. Nevertheless, the magnitude of the violence perpetrated against the insurgents can drown with blood and fire, in the short term, this destitution force of the Peruvian people from below. The Peruvian people have become the subject of their own destiny. All solidarity to their epic!
Hernández Navarro, Luis. La Jornada en línea. Perú, movimiento popular destituyente, 2023.
Puno is a city in southeastern Peru, located on the shore of Lake Titicaca.
The Antapaccay is an open pit copper mine. According to Reuters, due to the protests, the mine was operating at "restricted" capacity. Since January 4, “the mine has been unable to transport supplies to its facility due to blockades, with only 38% of its workforce present”.
Glencore also stated that the transport of mineral concentrates is currently halted.
“During last week's protests, the company's installations and four vehicles were severely damaged". A building was set on fire in one attack”.