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Peru declares a national emergency following deadly protests


Protests continue in Peru over the removal of President Pedro Castillo a week ago. On Wednesday, Castillo's replacement, his former vice president, Dina Boluarte, declared a national emergency for 30 days to try to get things under control.


At least seven people have died in the protests, which broke out shortly after Castillo was arrested on rebellion charges when he moved to disband the Congress, which was trying to impeach him for a third time.

SCHMITZ: Associated Press reporter Regina Garcia Cano joins us this morning from Lima. Good morning, Regina.

REGINA GARCIA CANO: Good morning. Thank you for having me.

SCHMITZ: So explain what this state of emergency is supposed to do.

CANO: Sure. So the country's latest government has truly struggled to calm down this violent protest, particularly in rural areas that are far from the capital, Lima. So the declaration is meant to give the government the ability to act faster and with stronger force, right? So it suspends some of people's rights, including the ability to assemble, to protest, to move freely, so they can't really go out into the streets like they've done before. And it also gives the authorities the ability to search people's homes without permission or a judicial order. And so that is key to this and also the fact that the armed forces will begin to assist the national police in security in certain infrastructure, like airports that, you know, some of which have been - or have had to suspend activities because of the protests in the past few days.

SCHMITZ: So police are now given the right to search people's homes when they want to. I mean, that sounds like just sweeping powers. Is there any way to tell so far whether this is having any effect on protests?

CANO: I think we will really see that today. Some of the - I mean, we can already see a military presence in certain areas where the protests have been particularly violent. But a test of this will really be today after, you know, we hear the decision from a judge regarding Castillo's detention for - possible detention for 18 months.

SCHMITZ: What do you think we'll see today?

CANO: I think, you know, yesterday, when the hearing began, we were already seeing people assembling outside the jail where Castillo is being held. So, you know, it will likely happen again. He has called on his supporters to gather there. So I think that will truly be a test to see whether authorities will respond quickly and with a stronger force than they've had in the past.

SCHMITZ: So Boluarte was Castillo's vice president, but the protesters want her out of office. And Congress does not appear to have much confidence in her either. What's the outlook on her political prospects?

CANO: Not great. She's really going to have to work hard on getting along with Congress. She has no supporters at the moment, and so she will really have to work with them if she wants to survive. Here, Congress does not hesitate to flex their impeachment powers. In 2020, the country had three presidents in one week. So it really will depend on her ability.

SCHMITZ: That's Regina Garcia Cano of the Associated Press. Thanks.

CANO: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.