Clau O’Brien Moscoso
Cyclone Yaku recently devastated Peru with flooding and mudslides. (Photo: AFP 2023 / Jao Yamunaque)
Clau O’Brien Moscoso continues her dispatches from Peru in the wake of a natural disaster and the ongoing coup against President Castillo. A Spanish translation follows.
National Strike, Day 75
Perú has plunged into chaos since the December 7th congressional coup that ousted President Pedro Castillo. This past Friday the 17th of March marked 100 days of terror from the Peruvian coup regime, with deaths topping 80 , severely injured over 1000 and political prisoners also over 1000 taken. Protesters from the various provinces and Lima marked the day with vigils to honor the 3 months of the massacre in Ayacucho on March 15th, a march to Barbadillo where President Castillo is held as a political prisoner and demonstrations throughout the capital city and country. We caught up with a delegation from Asillo, Puno to hear why they traveled to the capital city of Lima. The TransOceanic Highway connecting Brazil and Perú runs right across Asillo. Since December 11th, there has been a total blockade there, not allowing any commerce into or out of Brazil. There have also been devastating huaicos (mudslides) due to the cyclone season affecting the North of Peru and various parts of Lima, to which the coup regime has responded with little urgency.
What is your name? Where are you coming from and why did you come to Lima?
My name is Simeone, I am the representative of this delegation for the second chance here in Lima. We are from the Asillo district, in the province of Azángaro in the department of Puno. In other words, speaking of the whole of Peru, it is the south of Peru. We are here mainly because we have a genocidal and murderous government that has taken many lives from us. There in the department of Puno in Juliaca, which is in another province, they have killed our peasants, our professionals, our young people, and entrepreneurs. All of them are in deep pain and right now the government, which is headed by Dina Boluarte, constantly mocks the Peruvian people. And the Peruvian people have been demanding their rights, but nevertheless, as president, she does not solve anything, she simply mocks us. So, (we want it to be known) that we are not going to faint, our struggle is going to persist from there in our region of Puno. Why? So that we can accomplish our goal. Our goal is for Dina Boluarte to resign with her neoliberal policy, to have a definitive end in our region of Peru.
Why did you participate in the march on International Working Women’s Day?
My name is Berta and I also come from the Asillo district, in Azángaro, Puno. We have come with a single objective. Dina Boluarte does not represent us; the one who represents us is Professor Pedro Castillo. But I don’t know what happened before, the betrayals have been political. Why do I say that? Before, I said that Pedro Castillo and Dina Boluarte ate from the same spoon, but now what is happening? You can’t even trust your own shadow. The corrupt upper class political life – I don’t know how many millions that bloody murderer (has accepted), I say that because they have killed more than 60 of us and human rights (the UN) says nothing. On March 8, International Women’s Day, we were here in the capital and Dina Boluarte did not make any announcement at all. And it causes us (pain) for all the women who voted for Pedro Castillo. But the betrayal that this bloody murderer Dina Boluarte has given us… We totally disagree and we are supporting the more than 60 deceased that the other countries that do not support us and say nothing. Simply for this reason we have come to obtain the immediate resignation of Dina Boluarte. We also want the change for a new constitution. We have awakened thanks to Professor Pedro Castillo, now we are no longer passive now more than ever we are going to fight for our future. If not, Peru will no longer be Peru. That is why I want to call upon the conscience of all of Peru. Let’s be aware. Lima itself, thanks to the provinces, those from Lima can live like this; thanks to the department of Puno, for its natural cheeses, for its quinoa, for its totally natural kañiwa. And we have come with our own resources. For example, I have left my mother who is over 80 years old, for transparency’s sake. We want democracy, not dictatorship! It is the reason that we are here in the capital, we are going to (fight) until she resigns.
Simoene: In addition, we as Southerners express our solidarity with the North of Peru, we express our solidarity with the cones of Lima. Because somehow natural disasters can visit anywhere in the world. But to that we also point out that there is money in the budget, but it has gone to the police bonuses for the murderers, another million simply so that they (congress members) can eat first class, as they say, there are another million soles for communications, it would be 22 million soles right there, apart from what the budget for disasters is. All this should serve for the civil defense of these areas. But it is not.
What do the young people of your district say?
I am Iván, I am 26 years old, I come to represent the youth of my district of Asillo. We as young people think that for many years rulers have lied to us, they have mocked us, they are living with corruption, they are liars. Since I have the use of reason, there have been presidents who have entered and stolen the wealth, that is, the opportunities of many young people. They have negotiated international treaties with legal contracts with companies that exploit our raw materials; we are simply a raw material exporting country. And we as young people think that in the 21st century we can transform these resources and today there are no such opportunities. We come to Lima to change and propose these new ideas to the government. Democratically we have won these elections together with President Castillo, but (they have enacted) a coup d’état by Congress that has overthrown our representative. And on this day, we have come to say that our vote (should be) respected, to give voice to our thought, and to say that new ways of thinking must be respected, to the new alternatives that the young people of The Andes, of Puno, have.
“Muerte o Tierra”: Rosalino Flores’s Death and Comuneros Win Land Struggle, Remain Vigilant
Rosalino Flores died two months after being shot during a protest against Peru’s coup government. (Image: elbuho.pe)
Rosalino Flores is just one of the Peruvians who died in the struggle against the coup government. Clau O’Brien Moscoso continues her dispatches from Peru. A Spanish translation follows.
National Strike, Day 82
Perú continues to face crises upon crises over 100 days since the coup regime ousted democratically elected President Pedro Castillo. The masses have remained mobilized in the streets and delegations from various regions throughout the country continue coming to the capital city to overturn this dictatorship, as well as to reinforce their local struggles and blockades. Despite a long battle in the hospital, a young person lost his life at the hands of this regime. This past Friday also marked the victory of an indigenous campesino community in Cusco from being evicted from their ancestral lands.
After two agonizing months in the ICU, 22 year old Rosalino Flores Valverde became the latest martyr of the Peruvian coup regime. Flores was shot 36 times with lead pellets from behind and at close range in anti-coup demonstrations in Cusco on January 11th, taken to a hospital in the city of Cusco and subsequently transferred to Hospital Arzobispo Loayza in Lima where he was pronounced dead on March 21st. The family of the young gastronomy student held a wake and vigil in his honor in Lima before taking the body to his final resting place in their home of Cusco , where the military occupied the airport as the community received his body in mourning.
The family demands justice for Rosalino and to know the identity of the police that cowardly killed him. Rosalino’s brutal death is just one example of the shoot to kill orders and force the Peruvian National Police and Peruvian Military are using against unarmed protesters. Juan Jose , Rosalino’s brother, who was also at the protest in Cusco, described how his brother was shot and the pain he went through in the ICU:
My brother was a good brother, a good friend. The police shot him from behind, from approximately 2-3 meters away. He received 36 shots that affected all of his vital organs. He stayed in the hospital in Cusco until 1/22/23 when he was transferred to Lima. He couldn’t eat from his mouth. He didn’t have the function of his intestines, and what hurts me the most was being by his side as he cried out, “I want to eat, brother.”
According to the lawyer , “The doctors there told me that they have removed almost 60 percent of his intestines. The shots had also affected the lung, the kidney, and also the small intestine and the large intestine.” As with 50 other Peruvians , Flores was shot at close range in his abdomen, a practice which is causing serious injuries and fatalities. Family members and supporters carried his coffin to various parts of the capital city in procession and as a peaceful march to honor the young martyr’s life. As with other marches, police in riot gear stayed not far behind. Two days later, Flores’s casket arrived in Cusco as armed forces occupied the airport.
A few days later on March 24, over 1,000 people (220 families) of the indigenous community of Tantacalla , Paruro, Cusco were at risk of being evicted from their ancestral lands after a former landowner, Luis Paz Vizcarra , sued them over rights to the territory. After 10 years and 6 previous attempts to displace this community, the courts sided with the comuneros (co-proprietors, or commoners) who had erected road blockades in anticipation of being forced off their lands.
The former landowner was suing for 5 million soles (or roughly $1.3 million) in a case that the lawyer representing the comuneros said has very little evidence aside from the landowner’s testimony whereas her clients have land rights as indigenous people. “This violates the right of ancestral territories, protected by national and international human rights instruments. In addition, it can generate, in the current circumstances that the country is experiencing, high social and humanitarian costs,” says Miguel Jugo, deputy executive secretary of the CNDDHH (National Coordinator of Human Rights). A thousand officers were dispatched to the area to begin removing them from the land when the courts ruled in their favor. As the President of the Tantacalla community David Quispe said, “muerte o tierra, así es” (death or land, that’s all). The community says they will remain vigilant and next month the judge has called for resolution through dialogue. But until then, they remain on their ancestral lands.
Clau O’Brien Moscoso is an organizer with the Black Alliance for Peace in the Haiti/Americas Team. Originally from Barrios Altos, Lima, she grew up in New Jersey and now lives between both countries.