This article is reproduced from Black Agenda Report, with thanks.
National strike, day 196
On 19 July, over seven months after the parliamentary coup that ousted President Pedro Castillo, tens of thousands of Peruvians gathered in the capital city for the Third Takeover of Lima.
This date marks the anniversary of the 1977 national march and strike against the military dictatorship of General Morales Bermúdez. The march and strike, which were led by unions and workers, rejected Bermúdez’s neoliberal labour reforms and the dictatorship. The mass mobilisations that followed led to his ousting, a return to democracy and the establishment of a constituent assembly.
Peruvians are currently in the streets to oust the unelected regime led by Dina Boluarte, reinstate the democratically-elected Castillo, replace the unrepresentative congress with a constituent assembly that can rewrite the Fujimori-era constitution, and get justice for the more than 80 Peruvians killed and thousands injured and imprisoned since the start of the coup on 7 December 2022.
In the lead-up to the 19 July mobilisation, Peruvian national police erected identification and search checkpoints, targeting individuals and buses entering Lima, including from the PanAmerican South highway. Days before the national march, the police also held a military-style parade through the centre of Lima. Coup ‘president’ Boluarte sent the military to the mining corridor of the Andes in southern Peru and declared states of emergency days before the mobilisation.
Despite all this, an estimated 30,000 Peruvians took to the streets on 19 July to demand that Boluarte step down.
The General Confederation of Workers of Peru (CGTP), the National United Central of Peasant Patrols of Peru (Cunarc) and others called the latest national march to bring back to the capital the protest movement of delegations that had returned to their regions in recent months in order to organise and build their strength and numbers.
The 19 July protests were not limited to Lima, or even to Peru, and have extended beyond that day. At least 12 blockades were organised by the people in northern and southern regions of the country, as well as at the International bridge in Ilave, Puno (in the south-east of the country), which was shut down in solidarity with Aymara women who had been brutally repressed by Lima police on 22 July.
More protests were called for 27, 28 and 29 July to coincide with Peru’s Independence Day. Meanwhile, Peruvians in diaspora rallied across the world in solidarity with their compatriots in front of Peruvian embassies, while students at universities in Huancavelica and Cajamarca occupied their centres in solidarity.
According to the latest poll conducted by the Institute of Peruvian Studies (IEP), 58 percent of the population identifies with the national marches.
Peruvian armed forces have continued the brutal repression now characteristic of the Boluarte regime. Peruvian national police fire tear gas and rubber bullets indiscriminately at close range into crowds of protesters. An independent journalist was injured in her face by a rubber bullet and shot multiple times in the back on 19 July. On 22 July, Aymara women, who had been tear-gassed at close range in March, were once again brutally attacked in Plaza San Martin (in Lima’s historic city centre) – this time after reclaiming the plaza from a police blockade that had been kept in place since December.
The people of Puno have ratified a strike and will send more delegations to Lima in solidarity with their sisters. In Apurímac (south-central Peru), which was the target of the first massacre by the bloody coup regime on 10 December, the National Federation of Educational Workers (FENATE Perú) announced an indefinite strike that began on 20 July.
At the time of writing, no one has been tried for the approximately 80 people killed since the start of the December coup. The sister of John Mendoza Huarancca, murdered on 15 December in Ayacucho (south-central Peru), remains distraught after having lost her brother and, months later, her mother due to grief. Justice for the fallen martyrs remains one of the loudest rallying cries of the masses in the streets, and has moved others to join in indignation.
On 19 July 2023, Luis, a leader in the Plurinational Council of Tawantinsuyu, urgently called diaspora Peruvians to action in a statement in New York City:
“Everyone must come out against this genocidal government that has assassinated our brothers and sisters simply for marching. Those of us from Huancavelica, the south, and the north have come here to oust these rats and to demand the liberty and restitution of our President Pedro Castillo Terrones.
“He is the only president that was elected by the people and for the people. And for that he was punished. But the people will win, and we won’t leave until we accomplish our just goals. Until victory, always!”