Peru’s Congress rejects new attempts to advance elections amid protests | Politics News

The request called for calling elections and holding a referendum on the formation of a constitutional convention.

Peru’s Congress rejected another proposal to move elections to 2023, a day after a similar request was rejected due to nationwide protests that are rocking the country’s economy.

The proposal presented by the Free Peru party was rejected on Thursday with 75 votes against and only 48 in favor, with one abstention. In addition to moving the election from April 2024 to July 2023, the proposal included calling a referendum on the formation of a constitutional convention – another key demand of the protesters.

The previous day, a similar proposal that did not receive enough votes was supported by President Dino Boluarte.

Peru has been embroiled in a political crisis with almost daily protests since December 7, when then-President Pedro Castillo was arrested after attempting to dissolve Congress and rule by decree.

At least 48 people, including a police officer, were killed in clashes between security forces and protesters, according to the human rights ombudsman’s office.

Protesters have erected roadblocks, causing shortages of food, fuel and other basic goods in several regions of the Andean country.

The economic consequences of the demonstrations hit the workers hard. Luz Camacho, a local farmer who picks pomegranates in the southern region of Ica, lost a quarter of her salary, enough to default on her debt to the bank.

“It hit us hard because we didn’t work and we have loans and debts. Where are we going to make money?” Camacho told Al Jazeera.

The Chamber of Commerce estimates that the region has lost $300 million since the crisis began in December.

“This political crisis is turning into a social economic crisis,” said Jose Luis Gereda, director of Pomica, an Ica-based company that packs fruit for shipping abroad. Gereda buys 70 percent of its products from small producers whose fields were blocked by protesters.

The Chief Counsel is resigning

In December, lawmakers moved the election, which was originally scheduled for 2026, to April 2024, but as protesters hit back, Boluarte called for the vote to be held this year instead.

The riots are mostly driven by poor indigenous Peruvians from the southern parts of the country.

Castillo, who is also from the region and has indigenous roots, is seen as an ally in the fight against poverty, racism and inequality.

Boluarte’s government began to show further cracks on Thursday, with the departure of Raul Molina, the chief adviser.

Molina blamed Boluarte for the lack of “substantial political gestures” as well as for not identifying any clear suspects in the deaths of protesters during the crisis.

“Madam president, listen to our people, the great majority who are looking for change,” reads Molina’s resignation, which was published by the media on Thursday.

She refused to comment on the resignation.

Five ministers in Boluarte’s government have resigned since she came to power in December.

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