Three presidents in one week. In the midst of a...

The people are furious. The president resigns after a few days in office. But what is the background to the unrest in Peru?

Thousands of people march in the streets of Peru. They sing and raise the Peruvian flag. Now they are renting out corruption in the country. Photo: Rodrigo Abd / AP / NTB

112 people are injured, nine of them with gunshot wounds. 41 people are missing and at least two people have died in Peru. Thousands of people have gathered in the streets of Lima. The capital of Peru has been the center of the largest demonstrations in many years.

The people throw stones and china putters. Police use tear gas and rubber bullets. Fireworks are lit in the streets.

Here are some of the most important events and questions:

1. Why do the people demonstrate?

At the heart of the demonstrations are allegations of corrupt authorities. And the conflict has been bubbling in the country since 2016, explains Jemima García-Godos. She is a professor of social geography at the University of Oslo and comes from Lima herself.

In the last two years, three presidents have been forced to resign. Two of them have disappeared in the last week.

The first was Pedro Pablo Kuczynski. He was elected in 2016, but never received the full support of the National Assembly.

– Time and time again, they blocked bills and made life difficult for him. It ended with the elected president resigning in 2018 after two attempts, says García-Godos. Kuczynski was replaced by Martín Vizcarra, who had the job until last Monday.

Jemima García-Godos is a professor of social geography at the University of Oslo and comes from Lima herself. Photo: University of Oslo

“Congress behaved in the same way,” said García-Godos. They were uncooperative. Vizcarra wanted to do something about it, and therefore he had the Congress dissolved in October last year. In January this year, a new congressional election was held.

“No one in their wildest imagination could have imagined that the new congress would be worse than before, but it actually happened,” says García-Godos.

2. The corruption hunter was himself accused of corruption

The new National Assembly tried to get rid of Vizcarra for the first time in September. Then they were far from a majority. A few weeks ago, a new proposal emerged to get rid of the president. The reason was accusations that he had accepted bribes several years ago.

– Nobody took it very seriously. They did not think the proposal would get enough votes, as in September, says García-Godos. But against all odds, 105 out of 130 representatives said yes to removing Martín Vizcarra. Thus, Peru lost its second president.

Vizcarra resigned voluntarily, but denied the allegations of corruption. He himself has worked against corruption in the country. He is praised for that work.

Vizcarra was a very popular president. He has now been banned from leaving the country for 18 months.

The people are furious in Peru. Here, one of the protesters holds the flag while the tear gas spreads Photo: Rodrigo Abd / AP / NTB

He was quickly replaced by the relatively unknown Manuel Merino. He was the parliamentary leader of the Congress. While Vizcarra was popular, Congress was not as well-liked. Therefore, Merino was also an unpopular choice. He was to rule the country until the next election in April. Then the people took to the streets.

“We are tired of corruption, of the ordinary politicians who divide us to advance their own interests,” one of the protesters told Reuters. It took only five days before Merino also left his job as president.

It happened on Sunday. Eight ministers also managed to resign before Merino left.

Manuel Merino became a very unpopular president. He was only allowed to keep the job for five days. Photo: Martin Mejia / AP

3. What do the people want?

When Merino withdrew, the people also ran out into the streets. This time to celebrate.

– What happened on Sunday was completely paradoxical. Congress was to elect a new leadership and appoint a new interim president. But the proposal was voted down. Fortunately, the military has remained calm. The situation is very unclear, and it is difficult for the people to get an overview, says García-Godos.

On Monday, it became clear that the Peruvian Congress has elected a new interim president, the third in just over a week.

Francisco Sagasti is described as a center-right politician and belongs to the party Partido Morado. He is 76 years old and has previously worked for the World Bank, according to NTB.

Peru’s third president in a week: Francisco Sagasti. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

4. And what about the corona?

The political unrest in Peru is dramatic enough. The pandemic is making things worse.

The corona situation in the country is serious. In Peru, over 935,000 people have tested positive for the virus, and over 35,000 people have died. This makes Peru one of the countries with the highest death toll in relation to the population.

– I did not think that people would go out into the streets because of the pandemic. If you think we have strict restrictions here in Norway, they are nothing compared to in Peru, says García-Godos. Now there is, among other things, a curfew from kl. 23 to kl. 04 in the country.

– Now two people have been killed in the demonstrations. But how many more will die precisely because of infection during the demonstrations? asks García-Godos.

Political unrest in Peru is one thing. The corona situation is different. Together they create unrest in the country. Photo: Rodrigo Abd / AP

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