Protester dies in Lima as Peru’s political crisis continues

28 Jan. (Reuters) – A man in Peru’s capital, Lima, died on Saturday and others were hospitalized as nationwide clashes between protesters and police continued in the eighth week of the South American country’s political crisis.

The death of Victor Santisteban Yacsavilca, 55, brings to 58 the nationwide toll of protests that began in early December following the ouster and arrest of President Pedro Castillo.

Initially focused on Peru’s rural, mountainous south, protests in the capital have gained momentum in recent weeks. Saturday’s protests were mainly in Lima and the southern Cusco region, Peru’s ombudsman said in a statement.

Santisteban had suffered a serious head injury, the national health insurance company said in a statement.

Some protests escalated as protesters armed with rocks and makeshift shields clashed with police, who deployed gas and rubber bullets.

Peru’s ombudsman condemned reports of attacks on journalists covering the protests.

President Dina Boluarte expressed regret early Saturday after Congress refused to speed up the presidential election timeline amid the unrest, her office said.

Lawmakers had initially given the green light to move the election from 2026 to 2024, but this year’s elections stalled on Friday.

Boluarte has repeatedly supported pushing back elections as she struggles to quell protests calling for her resignation.

A motion to move the election to April 2024 was passed by one vote and has a final vote in February. Congress will continue the debate on Monday.

On Friday, Boluarte said elections could be held this year.

“We urge lawmakers to put down their party and group interests and put Peru’s interest first. Our citizens are waiting immediately for a clear answer that will smooth a way out of the political crisis and build social peace,” said Boluarte’s office on Twitter.

Boluarte, who took office after Castillo’s impeachment, has maintained she will remain president until elections are held.

Reporting by Alexander Villegas and Brendan O’Boyle; Edited by Josie Kao and William Mallard

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Principles of Trust.

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