HARTFORD — Protestors gathered outside the Peruvian Consulate in Hartford for an hour on Friday afternoon to denounce what they called “indigenous genocide” in Perú. During the protest, the Peruvian consulate closed its doors and stopped offering services to the public.
Azucena Minaya, clinical research assistant at UConn Health, organized the protest to demand the resignation of current president of Perú, Dina Boluarte. Protestors also demanded to dissolve congress, create a new constitution and cancel the contract laws that favor multinational corporations.
“This is the reason why we’re protesting. It’s to cancel the contract laws that are put in place, which continue to work with corporations, multinational corporations that are extracting natural resources in Perú,” Minaya said.
The protest was sponsored by a coalition of indigenous collectives from the area, including the Native American and Indigenous Studies Initiative, the United American Indians of New England, The Red Nation, and UConn’s Native American Cultural Programs.
“All our struggles are interconnected, and that’s the reason why I’m here. Many people have been killed and that’s very concerning,” she said.
Boluarte became the fifth President of Perú since 2020, after former president Pedro Castillo was removed by the nation’s congress in December. The congress ousted Castillo from office when he announced a self-coup in which he attempted to unconstitutionally dissolve Congress, according to the Council on Foreign Relations. He wanted to form a provisional government, institute a national curfew, and call for the formation of an assembly to draft a new constitution.
After Boluarte became president, rural and indigenous communities who supported Castillo’s presidency demanded Boluarte’s resignation, the dissolution of congress and scheduling early elections. This prompted Boluarte to propose early elections, which was rejected by congress.
Minaya lived in Huancavelica and Ayacucho in southern Perú during the presidency of Alberto Fujimori. Protestors like Minaya are demanding a change to the constitution because Perú is currently governed by the 1993 constitution written during the Fujimori dictatorship.
Minaya added that the Boluarte administration is responsible for the deaths of people from the southern region of Perú, where she is from. According to a report by the Peruvian ombudsman’s office, 60 people have died during the protests. Of those, one was a police officer that died after his car was set on fire by protestors, 48 were civilians that died during confrontations and 11 civilians died due to traffic accidents and events related to the blockades.
The violence reminded Javier Villatoro, of the Semilla Collective of New Haven, of the violence that the Zapotec nation of Oaxaca, Mexico lived through during the 60’s and 70’s. Even though he is not Perúvian, Villatoro expressed solidarity with the struggle in Perú.
“Right now, the people in Perú are showing their bravery by standing up against the state once again. And once again, we on solid land have to stand in solidarity and show them that they are not alone,” he said while addressing the crowd.
Juan Andrich, president of the Perúvian-American Association of New Haven, said Perú has been convulsed in recent years by political turmoil, rapid changes in presidents and constant scandals and investigations.
“Currently we have in Peru an internal conflict between the Government of Peru and social movements that are requesting a true change for their regions, they also want the president to resign and the Congress to be dissolved,” he said.
According to Andrich, Perú is a highly centralized country, and everything is mainly located in Lima, the capital of Perú. Many towns outside Lima don’t have access to electricity, clean water, healthcare, Internet, and are left out of progress.
“We need to decentralize Perú and educate people on how to vote for new honest Congress Representatives and a capable President,” he added.
The consulate could not be reached for comment on the situation.