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Peru protests will continue, says interior minister

Published January 23,2023

Anti-government protests that have at times turned violent and left at least 46 people dead in Peru will continue, Interior Minister Vicente Romero said Monday.

After a mass rally last week in the capital Lima, another has been planned for Tuesday by protesters demanding the resignation of President Dina Boluarte, despite authorities calling a state of emergency.

"The social protests will continue. We are working intensively with the defense ministry to resolve them," Romero told the state TV Peru channel.

Protesters, many from poor Andean regions, are also demanding a new constitution, fresh elections and the dissolution of congress.

Civil groups have denounced repression by the security forces, but the minster defended police and praised their "spectacular" abilities.

"Right now we're experiencing one of the highest levels of violence in recent times, since the 1980s" when authorities were battling left-wing Shining Path guerrillas, said Romero.

He once again blamed a "faceless" group for financing protests in which he said 540 police officers have been injured.

Authorities have long claimed drug-traffickers and illegal miners were "manipulating" protesters.

Trouble first broke out on December 7 after then-president Pedro Castillo was arrested and charged with rebellion after attempting to dissolve congress and rule by decree.

His supporters have kept up regular protests and roadblocks throughout the country, even at times attempting to storm airports.

On Monday, there were still more than 80 blocked roads in eight of Peru's 25 regions.

The Inca citadel of Machu Picchu has been closed since Saturday as train services to the popular tourist site -- the only way to reach it -- have been suspended for several days.

More than 400 stranded tourists had to be evacuated from Machu Picchu over the weekend.

The airports in the southern cities of Arequipa and Juliaca remain closed.