Peru braces for protests as thousands of police prepare to enter capital | CNN



Nearly 12,000 police officers are preparing to guard the Peruvian capital Lima as the country braces for mass protests on Thursday.

A heavy police and military presence could be seen in the heart of the city early Thursday, with key sites such as the parliament, prosecutor’s office and army headquarters receiving additional protection.

Peru is facing its worst violence in decades, which erupted last month following the ousting of former President Pedro Castillo as protesters opposed to the current government call for political change.

Protesters were seen on Thursday in the city of Arequipa, Peru.

Thousands of protesters travel to Lima from all over Peru. They are expected to try to march to the center of Lima on Thursday to demand the resignation of President Dina Boluarte and to call a general election as soon as possible.

A total of 11,800 police officers will be present in the city, General Victor Sanabria, head of Peru’s national police for the Lima region, told local media.

The Palace of Justice, the seat of the Supreme Court and symbol of the judiciary, will also receive extra security, as will selected TV channels.

Protesters, mostly students, have been arriving by bus from various parts of the country since Wednesday.

Thursday’s protests are the latest phase in a rolling crisis sparked by Castillo’s impeachment.

To date, 52 people have died as a result of the country’s ongoing social unrest, with another 772 injured, the Ombudsman’s office said on Thursday.

Human rights groups claim that authorities used excessive force against protests, including firearms. The military says protesters used improvised explosive devices and weapons, Reuters reports.

A state of emergency was declared in December, airports and highways became the scene of several skirmishes and hundreds of foreign tourists were stranded in the country amid the chaos. As of Wednesday, 105 roads in 45 counties were blocked, officials said.

Boluarte’s position now looks as contentious as her predecessor. Peru’s highest prosecutor’s office has launched an investigation into its handling of the unrest, and several of its ministers have resigned.

Demonstrators are demanding new elections, the resignation of Boluarte, an amendment to the constitution and the release of Castillo, who is currently in pre-trial detention.

Castillo, a former teacher and labor leader who never held an elected position before running for president, is from rural Peru and positioned himself as a man of the people. Many of his supporters come from poorer regions and hoped that Castillo would provide better prospects for the country’s rural and indigenous people.

While protests have taken place across the country, the worst violence has occurred in the rural and indigenous South, which has long been at odds with the country’s coastal white and mestizo elites, a person of mixed descent.

Peru’s legislative body is also viewed with skepticism by the public. The president and members of Congress are not allowed to serve consecutive terms under Peruvian law, and critics have noted their lack of political experience.

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