Peru made it into the international news in November. A country that is now also known for putting in jail almost every former president since 1990 has to deal with the impeachment against interim president Martín Vizcarra. Former elected President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski had to resign after a corruption scandal in March 2018 and was arrested. The congress had success with the impeachment against Vizcarra and perpetrated a coup d’etat on November 9th. But the people on the street had foreseen different scenarios and the attempt by the 105 congressmen to elect Manuel Merino to become the second interim president and to postpone elections again in 2021. People recognized the motives of these 105 congressmen to postpone elections: to stay in power, maintain immunity and to avoid investigations and punishment.
Immunity may not mean impunity
Manuel Merino stayed in power for only six days. While the mass protests and rallies took place all over the country, Merino decided to convene the military on Sunday 15 at 11 am. The Generals did not show up at the Presidential Palace, but the people on the street in almost every city of Peru did. Another incident that changed the course for what at first seemed to become another Latin American dictatorship was the killing of two students on Saturday 14. The post-mortem examination revealed that Inti Sotelo and Bryan Pintado had been shot several times from a short distance by the police with weapons that had been claimed to be non-lethal weapons. Leaked testimonies from policemen proved that police had been encouraged to kill. As these rumors spread and no sign of the determination of the sphere of responsibility for the multiple abuses committed was given by the authorities, the young who quickly organized through social media and the older who had experienced the 1992 coup d'état under Alberto Fujimori became aware of the dimensions of what was happening.
Seven days that shook Peruvians around the world
Manuel Merino’s presidency lasted exactly six days. But in Peru a new generation has grown up now and some for the first time in their lives have gone to a rally and discovered the power of the streets. Peruvians all around the world came together spontaneously to demonstrate in parks and squares. In Germany, which has a tiny Peruvian community, on Friday November 13 about 60 people gathered to demonstrate against the coup and present their demands to the Peruvian authorities in Offenbach, in front of the Peruvian consulate.
On November 18 again about 60 Peruvians gathered in Frankfurt Main, as the new interim President Francisco Rafael Sagasti Hochhäusler had been elected. Francisco Sagasti Hochhäusler, who is an industrial engineer with Austrian ancestors, started a political career in the mid-1970s. He worked at a high rank for the World Bank and in previous Peruvian governments. His introduction speech allowed little hope for a New Constitution, which the people are demanding now.
Merino, not my president
Melissa Sánchez, a student at Darmstadt Technical University, who lives in Germany for 2 years, also organized a rally: “We decided to hold a public event in the Old Opera Square in Frankfurt Main, a square known for its festivals and international events. In addition to presenting banners to highlight our demands, we sang the Peruvian national anthem and invited musicians to play. We also held a minute of silence for the two young men - Inti Sotelo and Bryan Pintado - killed by the police on Saturday.”
Despite the higher restrictions due to the increase in Covid-19 infections in Germany, fundamental rights, such as the right to public demonstration, are not affected. For the demonstrations of the Peruvian community, the necessary permits were granted and the protocols were complied with, in addition to keeping a record of the participants of a meeting, as is currently required throughout Germany.
The feeling of helplessness is best to overcome together
The limitations in the midst of the pandemic context have led students to abandon careers, to return to their families. Some go through depression. The outrage over what happened in Peru as a result of the coup has awakened Peruvians.
Melissa notes: “I think the effect of these acts of public demonstration is very positive. In addition to strengthening ties between Peruvian communities abroad, it also helps us to overcome the feeling of helplessness and to get to know each other among different generations of Peruvians abroad. We might be far away, but we are not strangers to what happens. "
Positive has also been the response of government representation in Germany. From the Consulate of Peru in Frankfurt am Main came the proposal to sign among the participants of the demonstration a petition that collects the demands expressed to be sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The proposal was accepted by the participants of the rally and the letter signed and submitted.
Melissa adds: “I thank those who traveled from different parts of Germany following the initiative of Carlos Salas, who deserves our recognition for organizing the demonstration in front of the Peruvian Consulate in Offenbach on Friday the 13th. The Consulate of Peru provided us with what was necessary to be able to sign a letter with requests and deliver it. "
Melissa emphasizes some of the demands: “We wish all those responsible for the deaths, disappearances and abuses against the population who exercised their right to demonstrate to be punished. No one may escape justice. The people united will never be defeated! ¡Vamos Perú carajo! Let’s keep fighting for our rights! "
The Peruvian youth not only demands justice and respect for the rule of law, but also a political renewal, necessary for overcoming the crises to which Peru is subjected continuously. In addition, greater transparency regarding the preparation of the electoral process and effective ways of democratic participation for the presidential elections in April 2021.