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Angry Backlash Prompts Peru’s President to End Curfew Imposed on Capital Hours Before Expiration

Drivers and residents protest on the Autopista Central, where buses and trucks were parked to block the road, in Huaycan, on the outskirts of Lima, Peru, on Monday, April 4, 2022.

Peruvian President Pedro Castillo Tuesday lifted a curfew imposed on the capital, Lima, hours before it was due to expire in the face of angry and defiant protests.

Residents were taken by surprise when President Castillo announced the curfew for Lima and neighboring port city of Callao in a nationally televised speech shortly before midnight Monday. The curfew, which took effect at 2 a.m. local time Tuesday and was due to expire at 11:59 p.m., was ordered to quell the growing wave of violent protests across Peru over soaring prices of fuel, food and fertilizer.

The streets of Lima were mostly empty during the day as security forces patrolled the city, with shops and schools closed and public transportation shut down. But residents in some neighborhoods opened their windows and banged pots and pans to protest the order, and thousands of citizens eventually gathered in downtown Lima in defiance of Castillo.

Castillo reversed course and signed an order that ended the curfew shortly after 5 p.m. local time.

Defense Minister Jose Gavidia told reporters earlier Tuesday that Castillo had imposed the curfew after the government received intelligence that protesters were planning to carry out vandalism in Lima. The decree was issued on the eve of the 30th anniversary of then-President Alberto Fujimori’s moves to shut down Congress and the courts, marking the start of his authoritarian rule.

The protests in other areas of the Andes over the past week have provoked other clashes with police that have left four dead, including a child.

The demonstrations have added to the list of woes for Castillo, who has survived two impeachment attempts less than a year after taking office. He has tried a number of measures in response to the rising prices, including a 10% increase of the minimum wage and an order to lower most taxes on fuel until June.

The cost of fuel in Peru has soared between 28 and 30% due to rising international prices, sparked largely by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.