Police in Peru have fired teargas to disperse a protest march in the capital Lima in support of ousted President Pedro Castillo, with the US backing the South American country’s new head of state.
The violence broke out after more than a thousand demonstrators took to the streets in Lima to protest Castillo’s ouster and arrest following his plan to dissolve the opposition-dominated Congress.
Demanding Castillo's release, the demonstrators chanted, "Pedro Castillo, Peru is with you!" and "If there is no liberation, there will be a revolution!"
Castillo was arrested on Wednesday evening and placed in provisional detention on Thursday, with media reports saying prosecutors carried out a dawn raid on the presidency and some ministerial offices in search of evidence against him.
The 53-year-old leftist figure faced on Wednesday his third impeachment attempt since he unexpectedly won power from Peru's traditional political elite in an election last year.
Many residents of Lima’s outskirts voted for the now-ousted president, a rural teacher who grew up in poverty and campaigned across part of Peru on horseback, promising to fight corruption.
"I felt very sad and disappointed at the same time, I even wanted to cry," Ricardina Condori, who lives in a shanty town on the outskirts of Lima, was quoted as saying about Peru’s political situation.
Dina Boluarte, a 60-year-old lawyer who had been vice president, was sworn in as Peru's first female president just hours after Castillo’s impeachment vote, taking the oath of office in front of Congress to serve out the rest of the former president’s term, until July 2026.
Boluarte must now form her first ministerial cabinet, which will be an early indication of whether she is likely to survive in office.
Joe Biden's administration on Thursday praised Peru for ensuring what it termed "democratic stability" and pledged to work with the new president after her predecessor’s ouster.
"We commend Peruvian institutions and civil authorities for assuring democratic stability and will continue to support Peru under the unity government President Boluarte pledged to form," a US State Department spokesperson said.
"The United States categorically rejects any efforts in Peru to undermine democratic order... human rights and the rule of law."
Maduro supports Peruvian ex-president
In a related development, Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro said Castillo tried to dissolve Congress because of the harassment and persecution by the political right who are against a teacher governing on behalf of the people.
"They elected a teacher as president, Pedro Castillo, and from the first moment of the election they did not want to recognize his triumph... and the harassment, the attack, began," Maduro said in an event broadcast on state television.
The Venezuelan president said Castillo's case shows it is the "oligarchic elites who do not allow a teacher to become president of Peru and try to govern for the people.”
Maduro said the detained former Peruvian president is facing a stage in which "now he is going to be humiliated, imprisoned ... the oligarchy of Lima is used to doing whatever it wants.”
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