“Separatist” foreigners responsible for protest violence in Peru: Chávez
Peruvian Defense Minister Jorge Chavez on Thursday accused foreigners of trying to stir up separatist sentiments in the south of the country, as tensions remain after the overthrow of former President Pedro Castillo last month.
“They entered not only with the aim of fomenting violence but also of incorporating this separatist idea of part of our part of the country,” Chavez told a news conference.
Chavez did not specify the nationalities of those who entered the country, but said in an interview with local television on Wednesday that he had reported five Bolivians at a protest in the border area of Puno.
He said the government was working to take legal action against those who allegedly crossed the border clandestinely.
In Puno and other parts of the historically left-voting south, some protest leaders are talking about separating from Lima and northern Peru.
Peru’s protests began in early December after Castillo was removed from office and subsequently arrested after illegally attempting to dissolve Congress.
Crowds took to the streets to demand the resignation of new President Dina Boulwart, the closure of Congress, the change of the constitution, and the release of Castillo. Protests resumed on Wednesday after a lull over the Christmas and New Year period.
Boloart told local media on Wednesday that she is working with immigration officials to decide whether former Bolivia President Evo Morales, a fierce critic of Peru’s new government and Castillo supporter, should be allowed into the country.
Morales, who visited Peru several times during Castillo’s tenure, on Thursday again criticized polwarts and the violence in the protests that have left 22 people dead in the clashes and six more in accidents linked to road blockades.
“Please stop the massacres, illegal arrests, persecution and accusations of terrorism against our indigenous brothers and sisters,” Morales said on Twitter, calling for a “profound transformation.”
Peruvian Prime Minister Alberto Otarola said Thursday that Peru rejects any attempts at foreign “interference” and that officials are carefully monitoring the border area.