'All of Peru is fired up': protesters fill streets after ousting of president

  • Fierce clashes with police leave at least 11 wounded
  • Biggest demonstrations in two decades follow impeachment
Demonstrators hold a protest against the new government of the interim president, Manuel Merino, at the San Martin square in Lima on Thursday, following the removal of former president Martín Vizcarra.
Demonstrators hold a protest against the new government of the interim president, Manuel Merino, at the San Martin square in Lima on Thursday. Photograph: Ernesto Benavides/AFP/Getty Images
Demonstrators hold a protest against the new government of the interim president, Manuel Merino, at the San Martin square in Lima on Thursday. Photograph: Ernesto Benavides/AFP/Getty Images
Reuters in Lima

Last modified on Fri 13 Nov 2020 12.19 EST

Fierce clashes in Peru between police and protesters have wounded at least 11 people, doctors and rights groups said on Friday, as thousands of Peruvians took to the streets to protest against the ousting of President Martín Vizcarra.

The clashes, and other more peaceful protests in the capital Lima and other cities, are piling pressure on a fragmented congress and the new government of Manuel Merino. Thursday night’s rallies were among the largest in two decades in Peru.

Vizcarra, a politically unaffiliated centrist who is popular with voters, was forced out of power on Monday in an impeachment trial over unproven allegations he received bribes, accusations he denies.

Merino, a member of the center-right Popular Action party who had been congress head, swore in his new cabinet on Thursday and called for calm.

Peru’s national human rights coordinator said there were journalists among the 11 wounded on Thursday. A Lima hospital said at least two people had been injured by rubber bullets.

Riot police were seen using rubber bullets and teargas to disperse large groups of protesters on Thursday night in Lima.

“All of Peru is fired up, we’re all very angry,” said José Vega, a protester in Lima, where some carried banners comparing Merino to the coronavirus pandemic and saying he did not represent them.

“They treat us poorly. We’ve only come to protest against injustice … We are all feeling pain. So, I’m saying to everyone let’s not give up.“

Vizcarra oversaw an anti-graft campaign that led to frequent clashes with congress in a country that has a history of political upheaval and corruption.

The crisis precipitated by his departure has rattled the world’s No 2 copper producer and seen its sol currency hit 18-year lows.

International human rights groups have expressed concern about use of force by police against protesters and the Organization of American States has called for Peru’s constitutional court to give clarity to the situation.

“We’re in the streets spontaneously and peacefully defending Peruvian democracy from an abuse by congress,” said Gino Costa, a lawmaker from the progressive Morado party who joined Thursday’s protests.