Peruvians have taken to the streets today, July 19th, despite the threat of violent repression by the US-backed Boluarte regime. The regime has mobilized 24,000 police officers, with 11,000 stationed in Lima to intimidate people arriving from other regions. The mining corridor in the South, which has seen a surge in anti-mining protests, has been placed under a 30-day state of emergency and is currently under the control of the army and police.
Protesters that are out in the streets continue to reject the unelected government's neoliberal agenda, which authorized the entry of more than 1000 U.S. troops in June and the privatization of the country’s lithium mining, reversing President Castillo's previous efforts to nationalize it. The demonstrators are also demanding the resignation of the unelected government of Dina Boluarte, the withdrawal of US troops, justice for the victims of police brutality, a new constitution and the reinstatement of President Pedro Castillo, who has been in prison since the legislative coup on December 7th without due process.
The U.S. Role in Consolidating its Interests
The US government has been involved in orchestrating the coup since the beginning. Just one day before the December 7 coup that ousted democratically elected President Castillo, ex-CIA officer and US ambassador Lisa Kenna met with the defense minister of Peru, who subsequently instructed the military to go against President Castillo. Kenna has since met with officials in Peru's coup government, including the minister of energy and mining and has expressed interest in exploring mining opportunities in the country, which would have been more challenging under President Pedro Castillo, who campaigned on promises of greater popular control over Peru’s natural resources.
Now that Peru has a government favorable to the exploitation and pillaging of Peru's natural resources, the U.S. has enlisted its armed forces to advance its economic interests in the country. In a controversial move, the Peruvian Congress approved the entry of over 1000 U.S. troops to train the country's armed forces and police, despite only having 6% popular approval. Unfortunately for the Peruvian people, the U.S. military has a record of training foreign militaries in the expansion of state-sponsored violence in the Americas.
The United States cannot claim to be a beacon of democracy while it continues to militarize undemocratic practices in Latin America. The Peruvian people deserve the right to self-determination without U.S. interference seeking to further its own interests. It is time for the US to respect the sovereignty of Latin America and the Caribbean and be a good neighbor.
Samantha Wherry- Samantha is the Latin America campaigner at CODEPINK