Peruvian President Dina Boluarte insisted on Friday she will not step down, after another day of protests and roadblocks throughout the country saw calls for her resignation and the arrest of a trade union leader with supposed links to Maoist rebels.
Since December, supporters of deposed president Pedro Castillo have protested and blocked roads throughout the South American nation, calling for fresh elections and the ouster of Boluarte, his replacement and former vice president.
“Some voices that have come from the violent and radical factions are asking for my resignation, provoking the population into chaos, disorder and destruction,” Boluarte said in an address broadcast on state TV Friday night.
“I will not resign. My commitment is with Peru.”
Boluarte lamented that the protests have at times turned violent, as at least 42 people have been killed in clashes with security forces, including a police officer burned alive in a vehicle, while hundreds more have been injured.
“I cannot stop reiterating my regret for the deaths of Peruvians in these protests,” she said. “I apologize for this situation.”
But she rejected the possibility of calling a constitutional assembly as demanded by protestors, pointing to the difficulties Peru’s neighbor Chile has had in drafting and approving a new constitution.
“That cannot happen overnight,” Boluarte added.
Rocio Leandro, a union leader from the south-central Ayacucho region with alleged ties to Maoist rebels, was taken into custody earlier on Friday, according to police in Peru. He is accused of funding protests and recruiting protestors.
Leandro’s arrest, according to police spokesman Oscar Arriola, demonstrated that remaining Shining Path Maoist militants were taking part in the demonstrations.
Leandro, according to Arriola, was a former “Comrade Cusi” or Shining Path member.
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