November has been a tumultuous month for Peru. It is not new knowledge that Peru has been rocked with protests due to a political crisis that has shaped the stability of the country for a long time. However, 2020 has been a particular exception due to the current global pandemic, the economic downturn and due to the removal of President Martin Vizcarra on 9 November. President Martin Vizcarra was elected as president in 2018 by the local majority in order to combat corruption within the country. With the decline of the Peruvian economy due to the COVID-19 pandemic, President Vizcarra faced a lot of political pressure from Manuel Merino’s congress. This increased when Vizcarra proposed a referendum to remove parliamentary immunity, which infuriated, even more, the congress proposing to remove immunity from the president. Vizcarra was ultimately removed from power with the alleged acts of corruption and impeached by the congress majority. Following this event, crowds started protesting causing a national coup on 9 November. Protests started spreading across different cities of Peru to show the outrage of the president’s ousting and to reject the inauguration of president Manuel Merino, who had formed a far-right government upon taking office.
These ongoing protests are the largest demonstrations over the past twenty years and have been organised by grassroots groups of you people in Peru helped with the spreading phenomenon of social media. However, protests degenerated and resulted in hundreds of wounded, two killed by authorities and several reported missing. Protesters have marched against Merino’s government to demand his resignation, which only happened after the reports of the two deaths. This also pushed the resignation of multiple government officials. Merino’s government lasted for less than five days and it has been followed by the inauguration on 17 November of the new president Francisco Sagasti. President Sagasti has been elected to cover the presidential role for the next five months before the presidential elections in April 2021. Although Peruvians remain alert and vigilant of the new President’s actions, Sagasti is reaching out to the people in order to placate the ongoing protests by giving public speeches and establishing conciliatory gestures.
Unfortunately, public protests could go on for a longer time, which is concerning due to protest violence and due to the fast-spreading COVID-19 virus. Although protective measures are being taken as people continue to march down the streets, this is undoubtedly risking the current Presidency and government stability. Peruvians have been tired of their political system as they have long been disillusioned with widespread corruption and undemocratic measures taken by their own representatives.
The November 2020 protests in Peru have demonstrated the people’s ability to organise large-scale and persistent mobilisations across the country. Peruvians have raised without centralised leadership. Conversely, they have exploited social media to show their political engagement. The police repression has not been a hindrance but has rather motivated them with a new sort of requirement for police reform and supervision and a new Constitution. These demands are now entering the political debate leading up to the April 2021 presidential election.
The protests also encouraged several initiatives to investigate politicians’ corruption claims and deliver meticulous information on candidates before the election. Now, the decision is up to politicians to stop undervaluing the electorate and meet the citizens’ demands for a better representation.