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Peru declares state of emergency, offers 18 months in prison for Castillo



© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Peruvian President Pedro Castillo addresses the audience during the opening ceremony of the VII Ministerial Summit on Government and Digital Transformation of the Americas, in Lima, Peru on November 10, 2022. REUTERS/Sebastian Castaneda/File Photo

By Marco Aquino

LIMA (Reuters) – Peru declared a nationwide state of emergency on Wednesday, granting police special powers and restricting freedoms including the right to assemble, after a week of fiery protests that led At least eight people were killed.

Protests erupted after former President Pedro Castillo was ousted on December 7 in an impeachment vote. Castillo, a leftist elected in 2021, has been arrested after attempting to illegally dissolve the Andean nation’s Parliament, the latest in a series of political crises in which the country’s second-largest producer the world has faced in recent years.

Prosecutors on Wednesday said they were seeking 18 months in pretrial detention of Castillo, who was charged with sedition and conspiracy. Peru’s Supreme Court met to consider the request but then suspended the session until Thursday.

Castillo’s former vice president, Dina Boluarte, was sworn in after he was sacked, and her presidency has divided other Latin American leaders.

Political upheaval has sparked angry and sometimes violent protests across the Andean country, especially in rural areas, and mining propelled the former farmer-teacher to power in July. last year.

Authorities said eight people, mostly teenagers, were killed in clashes with police. According to human rights groups, at least six people were victims of the shooting. Protesters blocked highways, burned buildings and invaded the airport.

“We have agreed to declare a nationwide state of emergency due to acts of vandalism and violence,” Boluarte Defense Minister Alberto Otarola told reporters.

“This requires a strong response from the government,” he said, adding that it meant suspending certain freedoms, including the right to assembly and freedom of movement, while allowing the authorities to enter the home without a warrant.

ELECTION OF 2023?

Boluarte, speaking to reporters from the presidential palace, called for peace and said “we cannot dialogue if there is violence between us.”

She said the elections could be moved to December 2023 from April 2024, a date she had previously pledged. The vote is currently scheduled for 2026 when Castillo’s term ends.

Boluarte’s government also spoke to a group of officials in the region on Wednesday, likely seeking to garner international support as the leader has faced criticism from wingers. Describe Latin America as Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

Peru’s Foreign Minister, Ana Cecilia Gervasi, said she spoke on Wednesday with her counterparts from Chile, Uruguay, Costa Rica and Ecuador. The day before, Boluarte had met several European ambassadors.

Since his arrest, Castillo has been detained at the DIROES police facility in Lima. He urged supporters to go to the prison, saying he should be released after his initial seven-day pre-trial detention period expires on Wednesday.

“I am waiting for all of you at DIROES facilities to give you a hug,” Castillo said in a handwritten message posted on Twitter, signed as “Constitutional President of Peru.” Castillo has denied sedition and conspiracy charges.

Castillo also called on the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to intervene on his behalf, and dozens of supporters gathered at the prison demanding his release.

However, sources from the prosecutor’s office and analysts said Castillo could not be released while the Supreme Court dealt with the prosecutor’s request.

Peru’s judiciary said on Twitter that it would hold a hearing on Friday on the “requirement of 18 months pre-trial detention against former president Pedro Castillo and (former Prime Minister) Anibal Torres.” , people under investigation for sedition and others.”

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