Peruvians protest against the government 5:12
(CNN Spanish) -- Peru has had six presidents in the last 6 years. Dina Boluarte is the sixth and also the first woman in the country's highest office.
A country that has been mired for years in a political crisis whose final chapter has not yet been written. This July 28, Peru celebrates 202 years of independence and, as part of the tradition, the acting president goes to Congress to give a message. This time it will be Boluarte's turn and it will happen in the midst of new protests against his government.
How did Boluarte become president?
Dina Ercilia Boluarte Zegarra was the vice president of then-Pedro Castillo, who left the post after Congress declared the vacancy of the Presidency of the Republic.
On December 7, Castillo was due to attend the headquarters of the Legislative Branch that promoted a vacancy against him due to accusations of moral incapacity, following allegations of corruption in his Government. The president had to respond to these accusations but, instead, through a message to the nation from the Government Palace he announced the dissolution of Parliament, the intervention of the Judiciary, the Public Ministry and, in addition, said that he would govern by decree. All this, unconstitutionally.
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Two hours after the message, Congress dismissed him, Castillo was arrested and placed in preventive detention for the alleged crime of rebellion, something that he and his defense reject. At 3 pm and in accordance with the constitutional order of succession, Dina Boluarte was sworn in as the new president.
Months of protests and deaths
Castillo's departure did not resolve the political crisis and demonstrations against the Boluarte government began. The demands included calling elections and the closure of Congress, demands that still stand.
According to the Ombudsman's Office, between December 2022 and February of this year 66 people died and thousands were injured after clashes between the Police and the Armed Forces with demonstrators. Some of those deaths occurred during roadblocks.
Opponents of the government of Peru's President Dina Boluarte clash with police during a nationwide demonstration in Lima, July 19, 2023. Credit: ERNESTO BENAVIDES/AFP via Getty Images.
The president said she "had instructed the police not to use any lethal weapon, not even rubber pellets" and apologized for the deceased.
The Attorney General's Office opened an investigation into Boluarte and other officials for the deaths. On the other hand, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and Amnesty International reported human rights violations by the State.
For Omar Awapara, director of Political Science at the Peruvian University of Applied Sciences (UPC), the legitimacy of the Boluarte government began to be beaten and the Executive did not know how to build it later. One of the factors, according to the specialist, was "the lack of political responsibility for these dramatic events that we had in Peru (...) as a result of the violence that took place in those days and that has lacked political responsibility."
Rosalino Florez's family and friends march with her coffin upon her arrival from Lima, ahead of her funeral in Cusco, Peru, March 23, 2023. He was one of the victims during nationwide protests that rocked Peru calling for the resignation of President Dina Boluarte and the closure of Congress, following the impeachment of then-President Pedro Castillo.Credit: IVAN FLORES/AFP via Getty Images.
The government, Awapara adds, "has simply decided to look the other way and insists on not understanding, on trying to turn a page that the majority of the population is not ready to turn."
No early elections
Some of the demonstrators attacked public and private property. While Boluarte referred to them as "a group of radicals that has its own political agenda" and wondered "what is resolved with my resignation?", the Executive presented two proposals to advance elections to Congress, but these and others later entered by parliamentarians did not reach enough votes to be approved.
Peru's political crisis would be overcome with Boluarte's resignation, says Vizcarra 1:33
In addition, the disapproval of the Peruvian Congress exceeds that of the president and reaches, according to the latest Ipsos poll, 85.
Almost eight months after the beginning of the administration of the first woman president of Peru, her disapproval reaches 79%. It is the highest of his tenure and also the highest level of disapproval in history since records began, according to Ipsos.
For Omar Awapara, between the Executive and the Legislative there is a "marriage by cohabitation." "Dina Boluarte wants to stay until 2026, Congress wants to stay until 2026 (...), both share the intention of stretching their permanence in power as much as they can and in that sense that relationship is functional for both."
On July 19, protests against the Boluarte government resumed. "That the president and Congress leave so that there are elections, more than anything because of what Dina has done, is undignified, that more than 60 compatriots have died and nothing has happened," a young man who was marching that day told CNN.
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According to official figures, 21,000 people participated throughout the country. For Awapara, the mobilizations do not have enough strength "to put the government in check." Even so, he warns that the Executive should not be trusted: "I think that is also dangerous, underestimating the capacity for mobilization and weariness of citizens."
Peruvian President Dina Boluarte, accompanied by her ministerial team, speaks during a press conference on May 3, 2023. Credit: CRIS BOURONCLE/AFP via Getty Images.
Alfredo Torres, president of Ipsos, asks in a column published in Peru 21, referring to the number of people who marched on July 19 and the 78% of those consulted who request an early election. "What explains this contradiction between a demand that enjoys such broad support and such a meager result in terms of citizen participation?"
According to Torres, an explanation for that question could lie in the "'platform of struggle' of the organizers. The most vociferous groups that called for the march had maximalist demands such as the reinstatement of Pedro Castillo in power."
Oxygen for the government of Boluarte? For Omar Awapara, in the short term, a change in his cabinet could be the answer. In the medium term, reforms and economic growth would be fundamental for a battered economy, whose gross domestic product fell, according to official figures, almost half a percentage point during the first quarter of the year compared to 2022.