Peru faces food, fuel shortages as Boluarte defiant


Published: 2023-01-27 11:59

Last Updated: 2024-05-27 02:40

Peru faces food, fuel shortages as Boluarte defiant
Peru faces food, fuel shortages as Boluarte defiant

Shortages in Peru of basic products, including increasingly expensive fuel and food, mount further Wednesday, as the president remained defiant in the face of relentless protests.

Dozens of roadblocks are hindering freight deliveries to the country's south, where protests demanding the resignation of President Dina Boluarte have been most intense.

But Boluarte told a regional summit Wednesday that she will not yield to the demonstrators, many of whom are from Indigenous and rural Andean regions.

"I am not going to surrender to authoritarian groups that want to impose solutions that are not part of our constitutional order or the democratic tradition," Boluarte said in a virtual address to the Organization of American States (OAS).

Protests, which broke out after the ouster in early December of former president Pedro Castillo, have repeatedly turned violent, with 46 people dying in clashes between security forces and protesters.

On Wednesday, dozens of protesters rallied in front of the US embassy in Lima, decrying what they see as American support for the embattled president.

Some 250 kilometers (155 miles) south of Lima in the province of Ica, clashes broke out when law enforcement officers tried to dismantle roadblocks on the Panamericana Sur highway, with protesters throwing stones and police firing tear gas.

Unspecified numbers of officers were taken to local hospitals as a result of the violence, according to television reports.

Liquified petroleum gas (LPG) -- the most popular fuel for vehicles and homes in Peru -- has become increasingly hard to find in the southern regions of Arequipa, Tacuna and Puno.

All three are relatively poor with large Indigenous populations, with protesters from the regions claiming abandonment and discrimination by officials in Lima.

"I've already been told there's no more LPG in Arequipa," Alexander Cornejo, a national taxi driver representative, told RPP radio.

Some 7,000 taxi drivers in the region have been affected by the scarcity.

In the city of Puno, where some of the worst violence has occurred since December 7, prices of basic food items such as potatoes and tomatoes have tripled.

Peru's transportation ministry reported Wednesday that 85 roadblocks remained throughout the South American country.

"Vegetables and fruit prices have gone up. Everything has increased, I think the vehicles that supply us should (be allowed to) pass," Jacqueline Flores told AFP in Puno.

- Major disruptions -

The Amazonian region of Madre de Dios, on Peru's border with Brazil and Bolivia, reported food and fuel shortages after protesters blocked the major Interoceanica Sur highway.

Governor Luis Otsuka said that if the roadblocks continued he would have to try to source food and fuel from Brazil and Bolivia.

Boluarte, who on Tuesday called for a "national truce" to end the crisis, has come under fire from rights organizations for alleged repression of protests and the disproportionate use of force by security.

Rejecting her call, thousands marched through Lima Tuesday, with clashes erupting between police and protesters. Multiple people were arrested and several were injured, including two photographers, one with AFP.

Boluarte held a video meeting Wednesday with the OAS to discuss the crisis. She said she had asked Congress to approve early elections "as soon as possible."

"I sincerely hope that friendly countries in the region support the only possible way out of the crisis that is both peaceful, constitutional, and consistent with the tradition of the OAS and of the region," she said.

The airport in the tourist hub of Cusco was briefly shut Tuesday evening due to protests but reopened on Wednesday, the transportation ministry said.

Several airports, including in Cusco and Peru's second city Arequipa, have been shut numerous times after protesters attempted to storm them.

The train service from Cusco to the famed Inca citadel of Machu Picchu has also been suspended after demonstrators blocked the tracks with bricks.

On multiple occasions, dozens to hundreds of tourists have found themselves stranded, either at Machu Picchu or Cusco.