Thousands of Peruvians took to the streets of the capital Lima in protest against the new president on Thursday, as anti-government demonstrations triggered by the ousting of former president Pedro Castillo grip the country.
In the first mass protest this year, protesters called on President Dina Boluarte, previously Castillo's vice president, to resign. They even shouted "Dina asesina!" (Dina is a murderer) while carrying cardboard coffins and photos of the victims down the streets.
"Why are you turning your back on the people, there are so many deaths, for God's sake, stop this massacre," protester Olga Espejo was quoted as saying by Reuters, urging Boluarte to quit. "Ms. Boluarte, they are using you."
Prime Minister Alberto Otarola said earlier on Thursday that Boluarte would not resign, citing constitutional requirements to consolidate the succession.
"Leaving the presidency would open a very dangerous floodgate for anarchy and misrule," he said.
Weeks of protests in the South American country have left at least 48 dead, including a police officer who was burnt alive in a vehicle. Several airports have been the target of the violent demonstrations.
Almost half of the victims died in violent clashes on Monday night in the southern Puno region. The latest protester to be killed in violent clashes was in the city of Cusco on Wednesday night, according to reports.
Amid protests on Thursday, Peru's labor minister Eduardo Garcia tendered his resignation on Twitter, saying the country needs an apology for the deaths and urged the government to recognize that "mistakes have been made that must be corrected."
He also said that the situation could not wait until April 2024, when elections have been proposed, demanding an early vote.
The protests, organized by trade unions and leftist groups, escalated in early December and marked Peru’s worst outbreak of violence in 20 years.
The South American country's crisis has also affected a southern city and a tourist hub of the country, Cusco, which again closed the Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport on Thursday after protesters on Wednesday tried to enter the airport despite the curfew.
The officials in the tourist city have put health facilities on red alert, according to reports.