Peru declares state of emergency and demands 18 months in prison for Castillo

LIMA: Peru announced a nationwide state of emergency on Wednesday, giving police special powers and limiting freedoms, including the right to assembly, after a week of fiery protests that lasted at least eight dead.
The protests were sparked by the ousting of the former president Pedro Castillo on December 7 in an impeachment vote. Castillo, a leftist elected in 2021, was arrested after he illegally tried to dissolve the Andean Nation Congress, the latest in a series of political crises the world’s second-largest copper producer has faced in recent years.
Prosecutors said Wednesday they were seeking 18 months in pretrial detention for Castillo, who has been charged with rebellion and conspiracy. from Peru Supreme Court met to consider the request but then suspended the session until Thursday.
former vice-president of Castillo, Dina Boluartewas sworn in after his impeachment, and his presidency has divided other Latin American leaders.
The political upheaval has sparked angry and at times violent protests across the Andean country, particularly in the rural and mining regions that propelled the former farmer and teacher to power in July last year.
Eight people, mostly teenagers, died in clashes with police, authorities said. At least six were shot dead, according to rights groups. Protesters blocked highways, burned down buildings and invaded airports.
“We have agreed to declare a state of emergency throughout the country, due to the acts of vandalism and violence,” Boluarte’s defense minister, Alberto Otarola, told reporters.
“This requires a strong response from the government,” he said, adding that it would mean suspending certain freedoms, including the right of assembly and freedom of transit, and giving authorities the ability to enter in homes without a warrant.
Elections in 2023?
Boluarte, speaking to reporters at the presidential palace, called for peace and said “we cannot dialogue if there is violence between us”.
She said the elections could be brought forward to December 2023 from April 2024, the date she promised earlier. The vote is currently scheduled for 2026, when Castillo’s term would have ended.
Boluarte’s government also spoke to a list of regional officials on Wednesday, likely seeking to bolster international support as the leader has come under fire from Latin American leftists such as Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
Peruvian Foreign Minister Ana Cecilia Gervasi said she spoke with her counterparts from Chile, Uruguay, Costa Rica and Ecuador on Wednesday. The day before, Boluarte had met several European ambassadors.
Since his arrest, Castle was detained in DIROES police premises in Lima. He called on his supporters to come to the jail, saying he should be released after the initial seven-day pretrial detention period expires on Wednesday.
“I am waiting for you all at the DIROES facilities to embrace you,” Castillo said in a handwritten message posted on Twitter, signing him as “constitutional president of Peru”. Castillo denied the charges of rebellion and conspiracy.
Castillo also called on the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to intercede on his behalf, and dozens of supporters gathered at the prison to demand his release.
However, sources in the prosecutor’s office and analysts said Castillo cannot be freed until the Supreme Court resolves the prosecutors’ request.
The Peruvian justice said on Twitter that it would hold a hearing by Friday on a “request for 18-month pretrial detention against former President Pedro Castillo and (former Prime Minister) Anibal Torres, investigated for crimes of rebellion and others”.


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