The National Times - Peru president imposes curfew in Lima, Callao after protests

Peru president imposes curfew in Lima, Callao after protests

Peru president imposes curfew in Lima, Callao after protests
Peru president imposes curfew in Lima, Callao after protests

Peruvian President Pedro Castillo announced a curfew for Tuesday for the capital Lima and neighboring port city Callao following a demonstration that caused roadblocks and "acts of violence".

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Protests had erupted across the country in recent days due to a hike in fuel prices and tolls, during a period in which Peru is also suffering from a rise in food prices.

In an attempt to appease protesters, the government eliminated the fuel tax over the weekend.

But Monday's demonstration saw truckers and passenger carrier drivers continue to take to the streets in Lima, as well as several regions in the north -- from the coastal city Piura to the densely forested Amazonas.

Castillo announced late Monday that Peru's Council of Ministers had approved a curfew for the following day.

"In view of the acts of violence that some groups have wanted to create... and in order to reestablish peace... the Council of Ministers has approved the declaration of citizen immobility (curfew) from 2:00 am to 11:59 pm on Tuesday, April 5," he said in a televised message.

Several violent incidents, including the burning of toll booths on highways, looting in stores and clashes between protesters and police occurred during the first such stoppage faced by Castillo's leftist government.

Protesters had also blocked the Pan-American highway, the country's most important transport and traffic artery snaking north to south, and school had been suspended.

"I call for calm and serenity," he said during his brief appearance on television.

"Social protest is a constitutional right, but it must be done within the law."

- Fuel and wage woes -

The United States embassy in Peru had issued an "alert" on the demonstrations earlier Monday, calling for Americans to "avoid the areas".

"Past demonstrations in Lima have turned violent," it said.

The multi-region demonstration was largely organised by the Union of Multimodal Transport Guilds of Peru, angered by a recent hike in fuel prices.

The government had eliminated the fuel tax over the weekend, and Castillo had also decreed a 10 percent increase in the monthly minimum wage -- which would rise to 1,025 soles ($277) beginning in May.

But the General Confederation of Peruvian Workers, the country's main trade union confederation, rejected the wage hike, stating it is insufficient.

It has called on its affiliates to march on Thursday.

The embattled Castillo had survived an impeachment attempt by congress last week, the second time during his eight-month administration in a country with a recent history of ousting its presidents.