‘Gasolinazo’ protests rock Peru

Hundreds marched on Peru's Congress building June 5, in a rally that ended in clashes with the riot police in Lima's central Plaza San Martín, and a police car set on fire. The "Shut Down Congress" (Cierren el Congreso) mobilization was called to protest both economic austerity and official corruption, and came amid new revelations of vote-buying.  It was the second such march since May 31, which saw a similar mobilization in downtown Lima. The press has dubbed the protest wave the "gasolinazo," as the high price of petrol (despite depressed global oil prices) is a key grievance.

The new march came after Congress voted to suspend legislator Kenji Fujimori and his allies Bienvenido Ramirez and Guillermo Bocangel, with the trio expected to face an investigation into allegations that they participated in bribery and influence-peddling. The vote was sparked by release of the so-called "Mamani-videos" by law-maker Moisés Mamani of Fujimori's own right-wing Fuerza Popular party. The secretly recorded videos purportedly show Fujimori and his two cohorts attempting to buy Mamani's vote to prevent the removal of president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski.  A few days after Kuczynski narrowly survived the December removal vote, he issued a controversial pardon of ex-dictator Alberto Fujimori, father of Kenji Fujimori. The younger Fujimori protested the move to remove him and his two allies, saying they were "victims of a parliamentary dictatorship." (La RepúblicaEFE, TeleSur, El Comercio)

A 24-hour civic strike (paro) was also held as part of the protest mobilization in Junín region, with roads blocked by adherents of the CGTP trade union federation in the towns of Huancayo, Jauja, Chupaca and Concepción. (La República)

June 2 also saw a clash in downtown Lima, when members of the Ni Una Menos (Not One Less) movement, protesting the latest horrific murder of a Peruvian woman, were set upon by the riot police, with tear-gas cannisters thrown. The march was called following the death of Eyvi Ágreda, 22, who had been doused with gasoline and set on fire by a spurned suitor on a Lima bus in April. Peru's new president Martín Vizcarra provoked outrage when, after offering sympathies to Agreda's family and demanding a life sentence for the attacker, he went on to add, "Sometimes that's how life is and we have to accept it." (CNN, The Guardian)

Photo: @dbedoya08 via Debate