news Peru’s ‘forgotten people’ rage at political elite after Castillo arrest

LIMA (Reuters) – Leopoldo Huamani, a 60-year-old farmer from Chalwanca in southern Peru, took three days to arrive in Lima to march in support of the deposed and imprisoned leader Pedro Castillo. rice field. Country.

Huamani, one of Peru’s “forgotten” peoples, one of the marginalized rural groups that Castillo sought to represent, has sparked outrage over Castillo’s arrest and strife with the fragile new government. There is a fear of derailing the known parliament.

In the South American country, voter anger has long bubbled near the surface after years of turbulent politics that saw six presidents in five years. imprisoned or investigated.

The situation has exploded in the last two weeks. After Castillo was deported on December 7, protesters blocked highways, set buildings on fire and took over the airport. Castillo came hours after he illegally tried to shut down Congress to avoid the impeachment vote he feared he would lose. At least 18 people have died.

Many of the protesters, some supporters of Castillo, others simply angry, said they felt ignored by their political leaders. Despite their flaws, they said, they were at least their companions.

“No one represents me now,” Wamani said, blaming Congress and new president Dina Volarte, former vice president of Castillo, for the deaths in the protests. calling him a “murderer” and holding up banners demanding his resignation.

Police and military have been accused by human rights groups of using deadly firearms and dropping smoke grenades from helicopters. The military said protesters, mostly in the southern Andes of Peru, used homemade weapons and explosives.

Bolarte, Peru’s first female president and a speaker of the Indigenous Andean language of Quechua, calmly called on parliament to bring forward elections. She said that despite her pressure, she would not resign.

“She just represents the dead,” Huamani added. “We elected humble rural teachers like us in hopes of a revolution that would bring the poor to power.”

Reuters Graphics

“Mouse’s Nest”

Castillo rose to the presidency unexpectedly last year after a wave of support from disgusted rural voters and what he sees as a corrupt Lima-based political elite.

“I was chosen by a forgotten people who live deep in a confiscated Peru that has been neglected for over 200 years,” Castillo said in a handwritten letter from prison. He has served 18 months in pre-trial detention while under investigation on charges of

He thanked his supporters for taking to the streets and accused the military and police of committing what he called a “massacre.”

“In this difficult situation, the coup agents who are exploiting and starving us are trying to silence my people today,” he wrote.

A newcomer to politics, he had gained support for his promises to reform the constitution, redistribute vast copper wealth, and empower marginalized indigenous peoples. On many of these promises he failed and his star waned before his exile. He and his associates faced a series of corruption investigations, and in just 17 months he went through five cabinets and more than 80 members of his cabinet.

But his arrest erased some of the disappointment. Hundreds of people from the jungles, mountains and rural areas of the Peruvian Amazon have gathered in Lima to support him.

“The Peruvian people will stand up and defend the popular vote,” supporter Melina Chavez told Reuters outside prison, lashing out at lawmakers. ”

Castillo, who ran for the socialist Peruvian Libre party but later turned to the right, faced a hostile and divided parliament, with the narrowly defeated candidate Conservatives holding the largest single bloc.

He has been impeached three times, the last time after his attempt to dissolve parliament led to resignations by ministers and accusations of a coup by former allies and constitutional officials. I lost my job at

However, most Peruvians still blame the parliament for the country’s political problems.The parliament is seen as corrupt and selfish, with just 11% approval, according to polling firm Datum . Before Castillo’s dismissal he was at 24%.

In a recent poll, about 44% of Peruvians said they supported Castillo’s attempt to dissolve parliament.

Outside the prison in Lima, Catherine Asto has come to assist Castillo, wearing a white cap bearing a slogan that makes her feelings clear: “Shut down the parliament, it’s the rats.” It’s a nest.”

(This article has been corrected to correct a misspelling of Leopold Wamani’s surname in the first, second, sixth and ninth paragraphs)

Reporting by Marco Aquino, Alexander Villegas and Liamar Ramos Writing by Adam Jordan Editing by Daniel Wallis and Francis Kelly

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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