The National Prosecutor recently referred to the lack of results, in the midst of a general rejection of her work by the families of victims of the demonstrations.
The protests that broke out in Peru between the end of 2022 and the beginning of 2023, mostly against President Dina Boluarte, left 67 deaths, of which 49 occurred during clashes with law enforcement. More than five months later, there are no convictions or major results.
Last Sunday, the National Prosecutor, Patricia Benavides, spoke for the first time about the investigations, which even reached Boluarte and his head of the Council of Ministers, Alberto Otarola, for the alleged commission of the crimes of genocide and qualified homicide.
“We will have results very soon. Let us investigate, let us do the work,” said Benavides in an interview on the Punto Final program, which is broadcast by the local channel Latina.
The prosecutor was in Ayacucho over the weekend, one of the cities with the highest mortality within the protests. Ten people lost their lives there and, according to autopsies, died from lethal gunshots targeting the thorax, abdomen, and head.
Despite the evidence for the 49 deaths of civilians, consigned by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), neither the Government has sanctioned the military or the police nor has the Prosecutor’s Office charged anyone responsible.
On the contrary, the outlet OjoPublico agreed to three resolutions of the Peruvian National Police Inspectorate (PNP) that show that cases of deaths in Apurimac and Arequipa were archived, and the incident of Victor Santisteban Yacsavilca, who died in Lima due to the impact of a a tear gas bomb
“Us We ask that the investigation be accelerated because it has already been eight months (…). The Prosecutor’s Office has seen the videos and saw who, how and where they shot,” said Yovana Mendoza, vice president of the Association of Relatives of the Murdered and Injured on December 15, 2022, in Ayacucho.
In dialogue with the newspaper La Republica, Mendoza accused delays in the investigation. “Hence our annoyance with the nation’s prosecutor when he came to Ayacucho a few days ago and we complained about this situation”.
The case of Puno
Puno is the region most victimized by these events. On January 9, 2023, the police repression resulted in 18 deaths, in a day that was later described by the population, press and politicians as the Juliaca massacre.
Given this, last June, the Supra-provincial Criminal Prosecutor Specialized in Human Rights and Interculturality of Puno requested the Joint Command of the Armed Forces the operations plan for military actions.
The Armed Forces continue to refuse to deliver operational plans and information on personnel and weapons present on January 9 in Juliaca, the date on which 18 people died during repression of the protests. Prosecutor’s Office will go through the courts in case there is a new refusal. pic.twitter.com/kZp7EVgK89
— Abel Cardenas (@periodeplazas) August 9, 2023
However, the General Secretariat of the Joint Command of the Armed Forces denied the request, alleging that these are documents classified as secret or confidential for reasons of national security.
“The investigations have not advanced at all”, emphasized Rosa Luque, mother of Heliot Cristian Arizaca Luque, who received a bullet to the neck during the fateful day.
Benavides defends himself
Asked about the slowness of the process, the prosecutor asserted that they are looking for the elements of conviction that allow them to move from the current preliminary investigation stage to the high school.
“The role of the Public Ministry is to investigate, to discover the truth of the facts,” Benavides said, before asking for credulity. “Trust your Public Ministry; has the duty to investigate and we are doing it fully”.
In the midst of denunciations of an alleged collusion with the Boluarte Executive, he denied that they are in league and indicated that soon they will give news about the deaths.
“At any time we will be communicating the results”added the prosecutor, without mentioning any deadline.