News Release

Peru: Protests, Oligarchy and Racism


PBS reports: “Protests in Peru demand ouster of president and call for new elections” and “Peru shuts down Machu Picchu as political unrest spreads across country.”

They write: “The protests erupted across the country last month after former President Pedro Castillo was removed from office and arrested. Threatened with impeachment on corruption charges, Castillo had tried to dissolve Congress and install an emergency government. Boluarte, who was Vice President, became president. …

“Castillo was Peru’s first leader from the rural Andes region. Campaigning on the slogan no more poor people in our rich country. He promised to address long standing issues of poverty and inequality. His ousters angered his rural and indigenous supporters, underscoring their alienation from leaders in Lima.”

FRANCESCA EMANUELE, emanuelefrancesca at, @emanuelefrance6

Emanuele is a Peruvian sociologist and a doctoral student in Anthropology at American University in Washington, D.C. and a Council on Hemispheric Affairs board member. She recently wrote the piece “Overthrow of President Castillo Exposes the Race and Class Divide in Peru,” which states: “In the eyes of Castillo’s supporters, this triumphalist celebration, the constant insults, the obstruction of presidential functions, and the abusive way that justice was served, all show that Peru is stuck in an oligarchical past. There is a ruling class that resists allowing the poor and working classes to be represented in the highest echelons of power. The lesson is: Even if such Peruvians managed to reach the highest political spheres, they would still be treated like inferiors.

“Today the judicial and legislative branches of Peru continue to perpetuate this attitude of contempt for the people, using their legal tools arbitrarily. In a clumsy attempt at self-preservation — hours before an impeachment vote — Castillo announced the dissolution of Congress. While his conduct amounted to a self-coup, the supposedly democratic institutions that remained standing broke the law themselves when they sanctioned him. Congress deprived him of his immunity in an express trial in which he had no right to a defense. The judiciary is holding him prisoner under inapplicable charges. One of them is the charge of ‘rebellion,’ which even the former dictator Alberto Fujimori could not be tried for, even after consummating his dictatorship with tanks in the streets.

“One only needs to review recent history to see why tens of thousands of Peruvians, having given up the high hopes they were holding in Pedro Castillo, remain by his side. Not only do they identify with the racial injustices the president suffered — and his arbitrary imprisonment — they also feel orphaned by structures that keep political representation out of their reach.”