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Amnesty Report: Racial Bias in Peru's Protest Crackdown

    Amnesty Report: Racial Bias in Peru's Protest Crackdown
    Last updated May 26, 2023
    Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

    Facts

    • A new Amnesty International report alleges that the Peruvian government has used disproportionate violence against poor and Indigenous people throughout the months-long protests that took place following former Pres. Pedro Castillo's impeachment and arrest in December.[1]
    • Amnesty reported a total of 49 deaths between December and February. It claims 20 of those deaths could be categorized as extrajudicial executions, as security forces used live fire on crowds and aimed at vulnerable parts of the body.[2]
    • This follows a similar report in February, in which Amnesty said "videos and eyewitness accounts suggest that several police officers fired bullets from the rooftop of a building," adding that "witnesses" claimed "armed forces fired live rounds for at least seven hours in and around the airport" in Ayacucho.[3]
    • According to the report, indigenous people made up 80% of protest deaths despite constituting 13% of the country's population, alleging this proves the government displays "marked racist bias."[4]
    • Protesters believe that current president Dina Boluarte, who was Castillo's vice president, should resign. However, Boluarte has refused to do so and Congress has refused to hold early elections this year, another demand of protesters.[3]
    • Thursday's report came the same day Peru's government declared Mexican Pres. Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador a "persona non grata" after he called Boluarte a "puppet" and offered Castillo and his family asylum in Mexico.[1]

    Spin

    Narrative A

    These were blatant executions, and the fact that almost every protester who died for months was a racial minority shot in or around the vital organs is not a coincidence. Peru must launch a genuine investigation into this matter and clean up its security forces, an institution with a clear history of racial bias and complete disregard for human life.

    Narrative B

    While racial and class divisions are certainly part of Peru's current crisis, the issues the country faces today all boil down to a long history of government corruption. The upper-middle-income nation sustains a 30% poverty rate because politicians, through nothing other than their greed, divert public funds away from the state and put them in their pockets. Worrying about racism, while noble, won't tackle the real reason people are taking to the streets, which is a lack of economic opportunity for large swaths of the nation.

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