Protests in Peru: High-level negotiations amid a worsening situation
High-level talks are taking place in Peru to try to resolve a widening political crisis sparked by the removal of the former president.
The Council of State, a council comprised of representatives from all branches of power, and the country’s religious leaders have been convening in Lima, the country’s capital.
Earlier, two government ministers resigned after days of violent protests against Pedro Castillo’s impeachment on December 7.
More than 20 people have died.
In another twist, hundreds of visitors are stranded in Cusco, Peru’s southernmost city, after demonstrators forced the airport to close.
Peru has been in political turmoil for years, with the most recent crisis escalating when Mr Castillo declared he was dissolving Congress and declaring a state of emergency.
However, his strategy backfired, and Congress instead decisively voted to impeach him. Mr Castillo is being detained and is being probed for insurrection and conspiracy.
He disputes all charges and maintains that he is still the country’s lawful president.
Demonstrators are demanding that Congress be closed, that incoming President Dina Boluarte resign, and that early elections be held. On Friday, Congress voted against a plan to move elections to next year.
Peru’s political crisis has taken dramatic turns.
At least eight people were killed in battles between the army and Castillo supporters in the central Ayacucho area on Thursday, according to health officials. Protesters were seen on social media blocking major routes and airports.
Just hours later, Education Minister Patricia Correa announced her resignation. In a Twitter message on Friday, she said that the “murder of countrymen has no validity”, and that “state violence cannot be disproportionate and cause death”.
Jair Perez, the Minister of Culture, has also resigned.
The protests are also having an impact on the country’s tourism business. According to the mayor of Cusco, approximately 5,000 visitors are stranded in the city after the airport closed due to demonstrators attempting to attack the terminal.
The city is the entryway to Macchu Picchu, an old Inca fortress which is visited by hundreds of thousands of visitors a year.
Around 800 tourists are also stranded in the small village at the foot of the mountain where the citadel is located since the train line that supplies it has been shut down.
Some visitors, especially from the United States and Europe, have apparently attempted to return to Cusco by walking along the train tracks.