On Tuesday, thousands peacefully marched to the Congress Palace in Lima
Despite the State of Emergency declared by Alejandro Toledo's Government, over 10,000 marchers demonstrated in Lima Peru's crisis looks far from being sorted out. In fact, trade unionists and striking teachers have ratified their intention to go on with their protests, despite the 30-day state of emergency declared by President Alejandro Toledo. On Tuesday, thousands peacefully marched to the Congress Palace in Lima to call for Toledo's resignation, chanting "Toledo is going to fall". However, clashes in other towns turned violent the new day of protests.
The last day's clashes left at least one killed and hundreds injured. In the southern city of Puno one student died after the police fought with demonstrators. Protesters also marched in other major cities, including Iquitos, in Peru's Amazon jungle 620 miles northeast of Lima. In Arequipa, Peru's second largest city, 65 miles southeast of Lima, local leaders called a general strike to support the protest.
Many of the 10,000 marchers in Lima on Tuesday carried red banners and chanted: "He's going to fall, he's going to fall, the liar's going to fall," referring to Toledo. The striking teachers are demanding higher pay, while farmers are seeking protection from cheap food imports and lower taxes on their own produce. Also students and other groups demand that Toledo retract recently adopted austerity measures that were put in place to meet foreign obligations.
The police did not try to stop demonstrators, as an outbreak of violence could end with the fragile Government of Toledo. The Peruvian president, who took office enjoying a 60% support in 2002, is now only backed by 15% of the population. Despite a provisional agreement between teachers and the government, strikes will go on until Congresses pass new legislation concerning teachers' demands. They want higher pay and more social benefits. Unionist leader Juan Jose Gorriti told reporters strikers were not going to stop the protests until they have a positive answer from the authorities. "We are fighting against dictatorship and for democracy", said Gorriti. "We are not going to tolerate that a democratic government use the state of emergency to crackdown popular protest", he said.
At the same time, Peruvian social leaders were trying to mediate between both parties. However, their efforts are still unsuccessful, as there are more protests scheduled until the end of the week.
On the photo: President Alejandro Toledo
A school student is believed to be the person who set fire to the wooden church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (built in the 18th century)