The ouster of the Peruvian president has sparked a wave of youth-led protests

The ouster of the Peruvian president has sparked a wave of youth-led protests

LIMA, Peru (AP) – University student Yesenia Medina was trying to focus on her virtual psychology class G when a stunning headline hit her screen: Peruvian Congress voted to oust the country’s popular president.

Furious, thousands of 23-year-old students, activists and others protested this week, announcing to Congress and refusing to recognize new President Manuel Merino.

“I think they took them away from their own personal interests instead of the people.” “Legislators will look after the good of all.”

Peruvian Congress voted overwhelmingly on Monday to oust former President Martin Vizcarra, accusing him of handling the epidemic and accusing him of corruption. The shocking vote drew condemnation from international rights groups who warned that the powerful legislature had violated the constitution and endangered Peruvian democracy.

The move has also sparked the opposite protests seen in recent years, especially by youths disinterested in the country’s notoriously tumultuous politics, who were ousted by legislators, many of whom are investigating corruption under the Vizcara government. Were.

Police have been criticized for using excessive force to suppress mobility with tear gas and rubber bullets. Nineteen people, including officials and civilians, were injured in a large-scale protest on Thursday, according to the public defender. Right groups have also warned about the use of plaincloth officers without any identification and tear gas deployed near homes and hospitals.

Tens of thousands of protesters were detained during the march on Thursday.

“Peruvians have the right to protest,” said Jose Miguel Vivanko, US director of Human Rights Watch. “Police and other officers should protect peaceful demonstrations and avoid using excessive force in all situations.”

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Analysts say the demonstrations – and the heavy-handed police response – are a clear indication that Merino will have difficulty managing. Some countries in the region have congratulated the new leader and many are urging him to hold elections in April.

Merino said the president’s vote would be held as scheduled and defended Vizcara’s expulsion, saying it was an “act of absolute responsibility” and called the former president a “thief.”

The protests come a year after protesters in Ecuador, Colombia, Chile and elsewhere took to the streets to protest their governments and take to the streets demanding better conditions for the poor and working class. Like those protests, Peru demonstrations are loosely organized, driven by notices posted on social media and largely provoked by the demands of young people.

“The youth are identified with the anti-corruption movement,” said political analyst Carlos Fernandez. “They’ve come out into the street adding pressure.”

The plaintiff is investigating allegations that Vizkara took bribes of Rs 30,630,000 in exchange for two construction projects when he was governor of a small province years ago.

Vizcarra, who has fought the country’s widespread corruption, vehemently denied the allegations to his government’s mission. But members of Congress – half of whom are themselves under scrutiny – pressed forward, demanding a clause in the 19th century that would allow them to remove the president for “moral incompetence.”

The former president has not been charged.

While the polls show that most Peruvians wanted Vizcarra to remain in office until his term ends in July and then face an investigation into the allegations, some sections of society supported his resignation.

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A group of about 50 lawyers, conservative politicians and retired military officials published an open letter welcoming the new president and denied that a coup had taken place. The group also sent a message to the international community that the move “strengthens our democracy.”

Political instability comes as Peru has the highest capital COVID-19 mortality globally and the region’s most severe economic contraction. The International Monetary Fund estimates that Peru’s GDP could fall by 14% this year.

“Merino, listen, people reject you!” The crowd chanted this week.

Lisbeth O’Brien, 22, said she cried when she saw Wiskara being chased away with her family.

“My dad said it was always like that,” he said. “That nation has been taken over by rats.”

He is now among the protesters who are worried that the country’s balance of power has been upset.

Protests have erupted in cities across the country. In the capital, the historic San Martin Plaza has become the central gathering place. In the vast open space is a huge statue of the horse rider of the Peruvian savior.

“Merino, you’ll mess with the wrong pay generation,” read several signs in a program this week.

Despite the overwhelming response from the police, many have vowed to continue protesting.

Abigail Kaluk, 20, was rushed Thursday as she tried to escape a cloud of tear gas, holding a sign while coughing and writing, “Rebellion.”

“I’m very tired of this situation.” “They do whatever they want and we are always quiet. Not now. ”

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