While some people living in urban areas dismissed these protesters as extremists, at least one trustworthy poll shows that a majority of Peruvians support the protests.
What has the government done to address this unrest?
New President Dina Boluarte declared a national state of emergency, an extraordinary measure that limits guarantees to certain civil rights. The protests grew larger and more violent. Police and military were dispatched to try to restore order to rural areas and at times responded with extraordinary violence. Security forces shot some in the chest, back and head.
They drove to Juliaca, a southern town where 19 people were killed on January 9. How did you get there when the protesters blocked the freeways and immobilized the country?
My colleagues and I persuaded protesters to let us through roadblocks by taking printed copies of our past stories and talking to protesters, often for hours. It was night when we finally arrived in Juliaca after a nine-hour drive. The road was blocked with part of a rusted ride, chicken wire and small fires. It really felt like we had arrived at the end of time.
what did you find in the morning
We woke up in the Andes at almost 13,000 feet above sea level. Juliaca is a city of extremes: the sun feels closer, harsher. The wind is biting, dusty and cold. One of the first things we saw when we left the hotel was an impromptu march taking place in the streets.
There were young people in skinny jeans and older women in traditional skirts, pigtails and hats. Together they blamed the new president for the deaths of the protesters, saying, “This democracy is no longer a democracy.”
What did you learn from talking to protesters?
Being there helped me understand why people feel Peru’s democracy isn’t working for them. People feel the system is being manipulated against them. And on the spot I could really understand why they believed that.