Addressing the international press, the interim president also stated that “the Armed Forces have no contact with the people who are protesting,” but, according to videos recorded by Puno residents, she sent troops there that same day.
The interim president of Peru, Dina Boluarte, tried again on Tuesday to justify the police repression against the demonstrators who participate in the national protests against her government. Thus, during a press conference with international journalists, referring to Puno, one of the regions most affected and with the highest number of deaths in the mobilizations, he declared that “the government is not generating violence” and that “Puno is not the Peru”.
“The Armed Forces are behind them. They have no contact with the people who are protesting. We have to protect the life and tranquility of the 33 million Peruvians. Puno is not Peru. Those who are generating the violence, I think also the press The international community should communicate that the government is not generating violence, that the government wants peace and tranquility,” he said.
🔴 President Dina Boluarte: “I believe that within the law and the Constitution, the PNP and the Armed Forces have come out to protect the lives of the 33 million Peruvians throughout the country. Puno is not Peru, they are generating the violence. The government just wants peace and unity.” pic.twitter.com/RUONqPIHqm
– TVPeru News (@noticias_tvperu) January 24, 2023
“Enough of this government that divides Peruvians more”
Boluarte’s words sparked a wave of indignation on social networks: the former president of the country, Martin Vizcarra, assured that this was how he divided the people. “Dina Boluarte: ‘Puno is not Peru’, incredible that she divides Peruvians more. For Boluarte, only Lima is Peru? While Congress rushes reforms at its convenience and against electoral entities. Enough of this government and congress, general elections this year 2023”, wrote on his Twitter account.
For its part, Peru Libre published: “The Peru Libre Parliamentary Group rejects the ‘violent expressions’ of Mrs. Dina Boluarte, stating that ‘Puno is not Peru’. We call on her to express public apologies to the Puno region and to the country”.
At the same time, some people have compared Boluarte to former president Alan Garcia, who in 2009 declared that the native population of the Amazon, who was protesting against a legislative decree to modify the Forestry and Wildlife Law to adapt to the conditions of the Free Trade Agreement with the US, they were not “first class citizens” and that “400,000 natives do not have the right to decide for 28 million Peruvians.”
“2009 Alan Garcia ‘400,000 natives do not have the right to decide for 28 million Peruvians’. 2023 Dina Boluarte ‘We have to protect the tranquility of 33 million Peruvians. Puno is not Peru,'” one of the users tweeted.
The Armed Forces “have no contact with the protesters” vs. soldiers in the streets of Puno
Among the many reactions are also videos recorded by residents of Puno. The images show that, despite the interim president’s assertion that “the Armed Forces have no contact with the people who are protesting,” she sent troops to the region.
“While from Lima, Dina Boluarte declares that ‘Puno is not Peru’, she sends to this region, the most affected by state repression, a huge contingent of military vehicles and helicopters. Soldiers walk the streets singing songs as in the most abject of dictatorships,” wrote a local resident posting a video with troops in the streets.
While from Lima, Dina Boluarte declares that “Puno is not Peru”, she sends to this region, the most affected by state repression, a huge contingent of military vehicles and helicopters. Soldiers walk the streets singing songs as in the most abject of dictatorships. pic.twitter.com/1DF8tEmcm4
— Luis Fernando Diaz (@fluisdiaz) January 24, 2023
“Dina Boluarte militarizes Puno shortly after saying that Puno is not Peru and the day after the US ambassador’s visit to the Defense Minister. The region has one of the largest lithium reserves in the world than the US. .needs,” said another.
🚨 DINA BOLUARTE MILITARIZES PUNO shortly after saying that Puno is not Peru and the day after the visit of the United States ambassador to the Minister of Defense. The region has one of the largest lithium reserves in the world that the US needs.pic.twitter.com/CQu3HA55sBhttps://t.co/epVE4fC1rB
— Comenista (@verdeembeleso) January 25, 2023
After numerous critical comments appeared in a few hours, the Presidency of the Republic decided to make a clarification. They assured that the phrase had been “misinterpreted”, as well as that “it was not an expression of discrimination or arrogance”.
“The Presidency of the Republic reiterates that it must ensure the safety and well-being of the 33 million Peruvians, in this context, the phrase ‘Puno is not Peru’ was not an expression of discrimination or arrogance. If it had been misinterpreted, we apologize to the sisters and brothers of our beloved highland region. We reiterate our call for peace, dialogue and reconciliation”, he claimed on his Twitter account.
The strong protests that have taken place in Peru since December 7, when former president Pedro Castillo was removed and imprisoned, demand the resignation of Boluarte, the closure of Congress, general elections and the release of the former president. Recently, the demands have been joined by the call for a constituent assembly and the request for justice for those killed in the protests.
In total, according to the most recent report from the Ombudsman, 56 people have lost their lives. Other unofficial counts raise the number of fatalities to 62. In addition, 912 civilians have been injured in these almost 2 months, along with 580 police officers.