Police storm Lima university and shut down Machu Picchu amid Peru unrest | PeruThank you for reading this post, don't forget to subscribe!
Dozens of police stormed a university in Lima on Saturday, breaking down the gates with an armored vehicle, firing tear gas and detaining more than 200 people who had come to the Peruvian capital to take part in anti-government protests.
Images showed dozens of people lying face down on the ground at San Marcos University after the surprise police operation. Students said they were pushed, kicked and clubbed as they were forced out of their dormitories.
The police action at San Marcos University – the oldest in America – is the latest in a series of skirmishes that have sparked growing calls for President Dina Bolwarte to step down after six weeks of unrest that have killed 60 people, left at least 580 injured and more than 500 arrested.
Amid demonstrations and road blockades paralyzing much of the country, Peruvian authorities on Saturday ordered the closure “until further notice” of the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail that leads to the archaeological world heritage site, its biggest tourist attraction. of Peru, which brings in more than a million visitors a year.
Rescue teams on Saturday evacuated more than 400 tourists stranded at the iconic site, Peru’s tourism ministry said.
“This afternoon the 418 local and foreign visitors were transferred from the city of Machu Picchu to … Cusco,” the ministry’s Twitter account posted, along with photos of a train and passengers.
The demonstrations began in early December in support of ousted former president Pedro Castillo, but overwhelmingly focused on demanding Bolhuarte’s resignation, congressional closure and new elections.
Boluarte, 60, was Castillo’s vice president and replaced him after he tried to shutter congress and ruled by decree of December 7.
Many of those arrested in Saturday’s raid had traveled from southern Peru to the capital to take part in a demonstration last Thursday called “capture of Lima,” which began peacefully but devolved into fierce battles between protesters and riot police amid stone-throwing and volleys of tear gas.
In a statement regarding Twitterthe office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights called on the Peruvian authorities to “ensure the legality and proportionality of [police] intervention and fair trial guarantees’.
It emphasizes the importance of the presence of prosecutors, who were absent in the first hours of the action.
Students living in dormitories said they were forced out of their rooms by armed police who stormed the doors and used shoving and kicking to evict them.
Esteban Godofredo, a 20-year-old political science student, was treated for leg injuries.
“He [a police officer] hit me with his stick and he threw me to the ground and started kicking me,” Godofredo said as he sat on the grass outside the residence with a badly bruised, bandaged right calf.
Videos seen by the Guardian showed confused and terrified students gathered outside their halls, some still in their pyjamas, as riot police shouted orders and insults. The young men were forced to stand against the wall or kneel in a row.
“They pointed their guns at us and shouted, ‘Out.’ We didn’t even have time to get our IDs,” said Jenny Fuentes, 20, a teacher.
“They forced us to kneel. Many of the girls were crying, but we were told to shut up. They didn’t tell us why they were kicking us out of our rooms.”
The group of about 90 students, who had stayed at the college during the summer break to work and study, were then sent to the main courtyard, a 10-minute walk away, where the other people were being held.
For several hours after the attack, they were not allowed to return to their rooms, which were searched by the police.
“I was a student at San Marcos [University] and not since the 1980s have we experienced such an outrage,” said Susel Paredes, a congresswoman, as she was prevented from entering the campus by a police cordon.
“The police entered the residence of the university, into the rooms of the female students who have nothing to do with the demonstrators. They were threatened and taken out of their rooms while they were sleeping.”
Paredes said it was a throwback to regular raids by police and armed forces on the state university in the 1980s and 1990s, when the campus was seen as a hotbed for subversion during the state’s conflict with the inspired Mao Shining Path Rebels.
“We’re not in that time, we’re supposed to be under a democratic government that should respect basic rights,” Paredes said.
Agence France-Presse contributed to this report
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