People poured into Peru's coastal capital, Lima, on Thursday to join an anti-government protest against President Dina Boluarte - and in support of her predecessor, President Pedro Castillo. Boluarte's takeover last month has launched deadly unrest and cast the nation into political chaos.
There was a tense calm in the streets of Lima ahead of the protest that supporters of former President Pedro Castillo hope will open a new chapter in the weeks-long movement to demand Boluarte's resignation.
Protesters are also campaigning for the dissolution of Congress and immediate elections. Castillo, Peru’s first leader from a rural Andean background, was impeached after a failed attempt to dissolve Congress.
“We have delinquent ministers, presidents that murder and we live like animals in the middle of so much wealth that they steal from us every day,” said Samuel Acero, a farmer who heads the regional protest committee for the Andean city of Cusco.
“We want Dina Boluarte to leave, she lied to us.”
Anger at Boluarte was the common thread as street sellers hawked T-shirts saying, “Out, Dina Boluarte,” “Dina murderer, Peru repudiates you” and a call for “New elections, let them all leave.”
By early afternoon, protesters had turned key roads into large pedestrian areas in downtown Lima.
The government has called on protesters to be peaceful.
Boluarte has said she supports a plan to push to 2024 elections for president and Congress originally scheduled for 2026.
Many protesters say no dialogue is possible with a government they say has unleashed so much violence against its citizens.
The protests have so far been held mainly in Peru's southern Andes, with 54 people dying amid the unrest - the large majority killed in clashes with security forces.