Peru says foreign leftists are helping riots and supporting jailed ex-president

Peru says foreign leftists are helping riots and supporting jailed ex-president

Peru’s Minister of Defense Jorge Chávez announced on Thursday that, according to intelligence reports, five Bolivian foreigners entered the country to incite violent left-wing riots and promote separatism in the nation’s south.

The defense minister’s claim follows two Peruvian lawmakers who on Thursday formally accused Bolivia’s former far-left Evo Morales of intervening to foment leftist riots and force the annexation of Peru’s southern Puno region to Bolivia.

Over the past month, Peru has experienced an ongoing wave of riots demanding the release of Marxist ex-president Pedro Castillo. Castillo was impeachment and arrested on December 7 after he attempted to dissolve Peru’s Congress before an impeachment vote, a move known as a autogolpe (“suicide”) as it would essentially have prevented his eviction.

After Castilo’s arrest, Dina Boluarte, who served as Castillo’s vice president, assumed the nation’s presidency, becoming Peru’s sixth president in the past six years. Boluarte will remain in charge until new elections are held planned to take place in April 2024 instead of the planned 2026 date.

The deadly pro-Castillo riot, which has targeted agricultural industries and organized roadblocks, has received support from Castillo allies in other regional governments. The protests had subsided for a short time during the Christmas and New Year festivities, but quickly resumed with the start of 2023.

“Via intelligence information, which is handled by the Ministry of the Interior and the National Police, we have received this type of information where there are foreign nationals who have entered not only with the intention of inciting violence, but also integrating the separatist idea from a part of the country,” said Defense Minister Chavez at a press conference. The names of the five Bolivian nationals were not released so as not to interfere with the authorities’ investigation.

In addition to the defense minister’s report, Peruvian lawmaker Jorge Montoya formally accused Bolivian ex-president Evo Morales – who himself tried to stay in power illegitimately before voluntarily leaving the country in 2019 – of “attacking the national integrity” of Peru on Thursday through using its RUNASUR project to incite separatist actions in Puno, Peru.

RUNASUR is a “progressive” initiative led by Morales who, according to its website, defines itself as a “plurinational integration mechanism between indigenous peoples, Afro-descendants, social, trade unions, territorial organizations and social movements in the region.”

Morales maintained a particularly active presence in Puno during Castillo’s government (2021-2022) to promote his RUNASUR project.

Before his formal accusation, Montoya branded Morales a “wretched declared enemy of Peru” through his personal Twitter account on Tuesday.

“Citizen E. Morales is an enemy. Citizen Morales is a wretched declared enemy of Peru,” Montoya wrote. “The Government, Foreign Affairs and [Internal affairs Ministry] must ban entry to said subject and the media not reproduce any of his news or statements.”

In addition to accusing Morales, Montoya similarly denounced the former governor of Puno, Germán Alejo Apaza, and the former governor of the Junín region, Vladimir Cerrón, accusing them of treason for allegedly conspiring with Morales. Vladimir Cerrón is also the general secretary of the radical leftist party Free Peru, of which Castillo was a part until July.

Peruvian lawmaker Tania Ramírez as well presented accusations against Morales on Wednesday, claiming the former Bolivian president funded left-wing protests to “annex Puno to Bolivia.”

The lawmaker said through his personal Twitter account that Peruvian prosecutors must request the arrest of Morales, noting the importance of Puno’s lithium reserves.

“The geopolitical position and the 4.7 million tons of lithium in Puno are important reasons for Evo Morales to fund protests in the south to annex Puno to Bolivia,” Ramírez wrote. “It is not simple interference, it is a crime against our sovereignty. The prosecution must ask to be captured now.”

Peru’s President DIna Boluarte announced on Wednesday that she was in talks with the country’s migration authorities to observe Morales’ possible entry into Peru amid the protests.

“We are talking to Migration, so that in this context we can see the situation of Mr. Evo Morales’ entry into the country,” Boluarte told Peru’s PBO Radio. “I believe that no one, no person, no former president, no leader from another country should interfere in a country’s internal affairs.”

Evo Morales responded to the Peruvian lawmakers’ accusations on Wednesday by “turning the other cheek” and demanding an end to “Terruqueo” (a slang term used among Peru’s politicians to describe left-wing people who engage in terrorist-related activities) which he says is being used against Peru’s indigenous population.

“We are turning the other cheek to the political attacks from the Peruvian right,” Morales said. “But please, stop the massacres, illegal detentions, persecution and terraqueo against our indigenous brothers. There will be no peace without social justice. Deep Peru requires a fundamental transformation.”

As of the first week of January, the southern region of Puno is currently the Peruvian region with the highest number of protests and riot-related incidents.

According to Carlos Posada, the director of Lima’s Chamber of Commerce (CCL), the ongoing protests, riots and roadblocks have so far caused losses of around 1.2 billion Peruvian soles ($315.1 million) to Peru’s economy.

Similar leftist riots and protests – with similar instances of foreign leftist incitement or participation – have taken place in the region in recent years. In Chile, a deadly wave of left-wing riots that initially began over public transport fare hikes in 2019 – and in which foreigners from Cuba, Bolivia, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Colombia were caught participating in the riots – culminated in demands to rewriting the nation’s constitution over the following years. The proposed constitutional rewrite was ultimately not adopted via a vote in September.

In Colombia there was a wave of left-wing riots unleashed in 2021 in response to then-President Iván Duque’s tax increase proposal to compensate for costs incurred as a result of the Chinese coronavirus pandemic. The controversial tax proposal was eventually scrapped and replaced with a less hated one – but it did nothing to quell left-wing riots.

Reports published at the time showed evidence of foreign leftist influence in the riots emanating from Asian social media accounts and from the neighboring socialist regime in Venezuela.

Christian K. Caruzo is a Venezuelan writer and documents life under socialism. You can follow him on Twitter here.

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