Crisis in Peru: Peru roadblocks resume as president urges ‘peace, calm, unity’

Anti-government demonstrations and roadblocks have resumed in Peru after a two-week pause as the South American nation continues to reel from last month’s impeachment, arrest and detention of former President Pedro Castillo.

Peruvian protesters on Wednesday used stones and burning tyres to barricade main routes in the southern regions of Puno, Cusco, Apurimac and Arequipa, as well as in Junin, a department in the centre of the country.

The crowds chanted for the removal of President Dina Boluarte, who took over on December 7 after the country’s opposition-held Congress overwhelmingly voted to remove Castillo.

Castillo, a former rural school teacher and union leader who took office in July 2021, was impeached after he tried to dissolve the legislature and rule by decree – a move widely condemned as an attempted coup.

He was arrested shortly after the impeachment vote and has been ordered to remain in pretrial detention for 18 months on charges of rebellion and conspiracy, which Castillo has denied.

The left-wing leader’s removal followed months of escalating tensions with Peru’s Congress over allegations of corruption. It spurred demonstrations across the country, particularly in rural regions where Castillo garners much of his support.

In addition to Boluarte’s removal, the protesters also are demanding the closure of Congress — which has a high disapproval rate — along with changes to the Constitution and Castillo’s release from prison.

The new government has agreed to bring forward elections set for 2026 to April next year — another key demand of the demonstrators — but many want the vote to happen even sooner.

While the demonstrations died down over the holiday period, representatives of civil groups and unions from 10 historically left-wing regions in southern Peru announced their resumption on Wednesday.