Peru extends state of emergency amid deadly political protests, while Canada updates travel warning

Peru has extended a state of emergency for another month in the capital city of Lima and two southern regions where deadly protests against the government have sparked the country’s worst violence in 20 years.

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Peru first announced a month-long, nationwide state of emergency in mid-December, shortly after demonstrations broke out over the ousting of former leftist president Pedro Castillo, who had attempted to dissolve Congress and rule by decree.

More than 40 people have died in violent clashes between protesters and security forces since early December.

The extended emergency measures signed by President Dina Boluarte late on Saturday, which grant police special powers and limit freedoms including the right to assembly, apply to Lima and the southern regions of Puno and Cusco.

In Puno, where nearly half of the victims have died, the restrictions include a curfew from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m., which is due to lift Jan. 24.

Portraits of people who died during the latest protests against Boluarte’s government are displayed during a mass at the Lima Cathedral on Sunday. (Martin Mejia/The Associated Press)

Canadian travellers urged to take care

Global Affairs Canada updated its travel advice Sunday, warning that several major roads and highways were also affected by the state of emergency, while protests and roadblocks were causing transportation disruptions in many areas, including to rail services, inter-regional buses, and intercity public transportation.

The Juliaca airport in Puno region had suspended operations until further notice, and other airports were experiencing flight delays. Airports were limiting entry to boarding pass holders only, Global Affairs said.

It warned that during the state of emergency, police and the military had the power to restrict people’s movement, monitor their communications, and enter private properties to carry out searches.

Global Affairs reiterated its advice to Canadians in Peru to avoid demonstrations and large gatherings, and not attempt to cross road blockades. They should also expect to see more security force personnel, and follow the instructions of local authorities.

Canadians should contact their airline or tour operator to change their travel arrangements, if necessary.

A dog walks down a road that is blocked by rows of large rocks.
Roadblocks set up by anti-government protesters are seen in Desaguadero, on the border with Bolivia, on Friday. (Juan Karita/The Associated Press)

Protests continue

In a march in Lima on Saturday, protesters raised red and white national flags alongside banners rimmed in black in a sign of mourning. They also lashed out against Boluarte, Castillo’s former vice-president, who the day before had apologized for the deaths while calling for investigations.

“She is a hypocrite,” said protester Tania Serra, speaking over shouts of the crowd, which at times jostled with police outfitted in anti-riot gear. “She says sorry, sorry, but she doesn’t come out to talk, she sends the police, the military to go kill.”

As of Jan. 12-13, a poll by Ipsos Peru published in newspaper Peru 21 on Sunday showed 71 per cent of Peruvians disapproved of Boluarte’s government up from 68 per cent in December.

Protesters have demanded Boluarte step down, and that Castillo, who was arrested for “rebellion,” be released.

Two police officers stand watching a group of protesters who are holding a very, very long red and white banner.
Riot police stand guard at the Plaza de Armas in Cusco on Sunday as locals hold a rally in memory of more than 40 people killed in recent protests in Peru. (Ivan Flores/AFP/Getty Images)

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