The people of Peru continue to protest the coup which ousted President Pedro Castillo Terrones. Clau O'Brien Moscoso reports from Peru.
National Strike, Day 52
As the coup against President Pedro Castillo continues into its third month, the political repression on the ground has been severe and growing. From a single mother who fundraised approximately 2000 soles (roughly under $500) to buy food, medicine, and other necessities for protesters coming to Lima from provincial regions, to community leaders from the FREDEPA (Front for the Defense of the People of Ayacucho)in Ayacucho taken to a military base to be tortured before being taken by helicopter to the capital city, it is the predominantly indigenous campesino populations and those in solidarity with them and the organized masses as a whole that are being targeted. The rigged judicial system that currently operates at the behest of the dictatorship has put protesters into what is called “preventative detention” ranging from 9 months to 3 years on trumped up charges that have yet to yield any substantial evidence. Just this past week, coup leader Dina Boluarte and her Prime Minister Otárola sent a bill (“proyecto de ley”) to Congress to increase penalties and fines across the board for any arrests made during the State of Emergency, effectively criminalizing protests. The masses understand this is a reaction to the sustained mobilizations happening across the country and that the regime fears the power of the people, otherwise these extreme measures would not be necessary. But despite this political repression, there has not been one day without mobilization, speak outs, vigils, bloqueos (roadblocks) or strikes. Here are some of the stories of political repression under the US-backed Boluarte/Fujimontesinista dictatorship.
One of those targeted is Yaneth Navarro Flor, a teacher from Andahuaylas (the first region to live through a massacre) who is currently sitting in pre-trial detention in Lima for 30 months of “preventative detention” for supposed “disturbances” and “organized crime.” The judge that ordered those 30 months of preventive detention, Margarita Salcedo Guevara, is going by the only so-called evidence that the Peruvian National Police collected when Yaneth was arrested, which was a little under 1900 soles, a notebook stating purchases made- purchases like toothpaste, goggles, helmets, blankets, etc and a voice note to Castillo’s sister saying Andahaylas is in the struggle until the end. The judicial system, and more broadly this dictatorship, has not been able to provide any evidence and yet they say they are in a war against terrorism and any supporters of terrorists. According to her close friend Karina, “Yaneth is a warrior woman from Apurimac who has 3 children, takes care of her elder parents and is pregnant; she is a single mother and has no one that can take care of her family.” Speaking in her own words at her trial, Yaneth declared, “what do I lose in those 30 months? I will lose probably the last years of my parents’ lives, seeing my teenage daughters grow up, seeing my 1-year-old baby girl grow, and my baby inside my belly who is now condemned to grow in an unsuitable environment.” The judge and the Limeña press, paid for by the oligarchy and this dictatorship, has gone so far to call Yaneth “a bad mother for being involved in these acts of vandalism.” Under this dictatorship, solidarity is equivalent to vandalism and financing terrorism.
In another act of severe political repression, social movement leaders from the historic organization FREDEPA from the province of Ayacucho were rounded up and brutally arrested during home raids, tortured at a military base then taken by helicopter to the capital city of Lima to be charged with terrorism. In scenes not seen since Operation Condor days, the Peruvian Armed Forces’ use of unmarked vehicles, helicopters, coordinated round ups and charging long standing community organizations as “terrorists” have only served to fuel the people’s just struggle. According to an investigation done by media outlet Wayka Peru, “On the night of January 12, they were detained by order of the Prosecutor's Office, which attributes them to being part of a terrorist organization in addition to having organized and financed the protests in Ayacucho. Their relatives denounce that they were kidnapped since they were not taken to a police station, but directly to Los Cabitos, a military base where human rights were violated (disappearances, murders, and torture) during the government of Fernando Belaunde Terry and the dictatorship of Alberto Fujimori.” These social movement leaders now face 18 months of preventative detention in Lima, away from family and community.
Two days after the start of the general strike on January 4th, members of the Asociación Cultural Ágora Popular de la Plaza San Martín, a cultural association focusing on political education, were ambushed during the demonstrations and taken to the Cotabambas police station. According to one of the members Julio, a young labor leader from the northern region of Piura:
“On January 6th when the mobilizations really started to be felt in the capital city, we were ambushed in the mobilizations on Abancay Ave from all 4 corners by police with around 250 protesters. We were cornered by police with batons and shields and rounded up on a bus where we were verbally assaulted and taken to Cotabambas. Finally, after 4 hours of detention, they let us free but not without violating all our rights.”
Though the people who had been arrested that night were eventually released, they continue to be persecuted during the daily demonstrations.
These are just a few of the cases of the severe political repression the people of Perú now live through. Despite the brutality with which the Peruvian Armed Forces have submitted the masses to under the orders of the bloody Boluarte/ Fujimori dictatorship, the people continue to go out every day demanding the liberty and restitution of President Pedro Castillo, the closure of Congress, a Popular Constituent Assembly and for justice for our 77 fallen comrades and thousands severely injured during this coup.
Clau O'Brien Moscoso is an organizer with the Black Alliance for Peace in the Haiti/Americas Team. Originally from Barrios Altos, Lima, she grew up in New Jersey and now lives between both countries.