Peru’s defense minister Jorge Chávez announced on Thursday that, according to intelligence reports, five Bolivian foreigners entered the country to incite violent leftist riots and promote separatism in the nation’s south.
The defense minister’s claim follows two Peruvian lawmakers formally accusing former far-left Bolivian President Evo Morales on Thursday of intervention to promote leftist riots and force the annexation of Peru’s southern Puno region to Bolivia.
For the past month, Peru has experienced an ongoing wave of riots demanding the liberation of Marxist ex-President Pedro Castillo. Castillo was impeached and arrested on December 7 after he attempted to dissolve Peru’s Congress prior to an impeachment vote, a move known as an autogolpe (“self-coup”) as it essentially would have illicitly prevented his ouster.
Following Castilo’s arrest, Dina Boluarte, who served as Castillo’s vice president, assumed the nation’s presidency, becoming Peru’s sixth president in the past six years. Boluarte will remain in charge until new elections are held, currently slated to take place in April 2024 instead of the scheduled 2026 date.
The deadly pro-Castillo riots, which has targeted agricultural industries and organied roadblocks, have received support from Castillo allies in other regional governments. The protests had briefly waned during Christmas and New Year festivities, but quickly resumed with the start of 2023.
“Via intelligence information, which is handled by the Ministry of the Interior and the National Police, we have received this type of information in which there are foreign citizens who have entered not only with the intention of inciting violence but also integrating that separatist idea from one part of the country,” Defense Minister Chavez said at a press conference. The names of the five Bolivian citizens were not publicly disclosed so as to not disrupt the authorities’ investigation.
In addition to the defense minister’s report, Peruvian lawmaker Jorge Montoya formally accused Bolivian ex-President Evo Morales – who himself attempted to stay in power illegitimately before voluntarily departing the country in 2019 – of “attacking the national integrity” of Peru on Thursday through the use of his RUNASUR project to incite separatist actions in Puno, Peru.
RUNASUR is a “progressive” initiative led by Morales that, according to its website, defines itself as a “plurinational integration mechanism between indigenous peoples, Afro-descendants, social, union, territorial organizations and social movements in the region.”
Morales maintained a notably active presence in Puno during Castillo’s government (2021-2022) to promote his RUNASUR project.
Prior to his formal accusation, Montoya branded Morales a “miserable declared enemy of Peru” through his personal Twitter account on Tuesday.
🚨Ciudadano E. Morales es un enemigo.
El ciudadano Morales es un miserable enemigo declarado del Perú.
El Gobierno, Cancillería y Mininter deben prohibir el ingreso de dicho sujeto y los medios de comunicación no replicar ninguna de sus noticias o declaraciones. (1/2)
— Jorge Montoya 🇵⚓️ (@Alm_Montoya) January 3, 2023
“Citizen E. Morales is an enemy. Citizen Morales is a miserable declared enemy of Peru,” Montoya wrote. “The Government, Foreign Ministry and [Internal affairs Ministry] must prohibit the entry of said subject and the media not replicate any of his news or statements.”
In addition to accusing Morales, Montoya similarly condemned the former governor of Puno, Germán Alejo Apaza, and the former governor of the Junín region Vladimir Cerrón, accusing them of treason for allegedly conspiring with Morales. Vladimir Cerrón is also the secretary general of the radical leftist Free Peru party, which Castillo was part of until July.
Peruvian lawmaker Tania Ramírez also presented accusations against Morales on Wednesday, claiming that the former Bolivian president was financing the leftist protests to “annex Puno to Bolivia.”
The lawmaker, through her personal Twitter account, said that Peruvian prosecutors must request the arrest of Morales, noting the importance of Puno’s lithium reserves.
La posición geopolítica y los 4,7 millones de toneladas de Litio en Puno es motivos importantes para que @evoespueblo financie protestas en el sur para anexar Puno a Bolivia. No es simple injerencia, es delito contra nuestra soberanía. @FiscaliaPeru debe pedir su captura ya! pic.twitter.com/bDec9v13tL
— Tania Estefany Ramírez García (@Taniaramirezga2) January 4, 2023
“The geopolitical position and the 4.7 million tons of lithium in Puno are important reasons for Evo Morales to finance protests in the south to annex Puno to Bolivia,” Ramírez wrote. “It is not simple interference, it is a crime against our sovereignty. The Prosecutor’s Office must request his capture now.”
Peruvian President DIna Boluarte announced on Wednesday that she was in talks with the nation’s migration authorities to observe the possible entry of Morales to Peru amidst the protests.
“We are talking with Migration, so that, within this context, we can see the situation of Mr. Evo Morales’ entry into the country,” Boluarte said to Peru’s PBO Radio. “I believe that no one, no person, no former president, no leader from another country has to intervene in the internal affairs of a country.”
Evo Morales responded to the Peruvian lawmakers’s accusations on Wednesday by “turning the other cheek” and demanding the stop of “Terruqueo” (a slang term used among Peru’s politicians to describe left-wing people engaging in terrorism-related activities) that, according to him, is being used against Peru’s indigenous population.
Damos la otra mejilla ante los ataques políticos de la derecha peruana. Pero por favor, paren las masacres, detenciones ilegales, persecusión y “terruqueo” contra nuestros hermanos indígenas. No habrá paz sin justicia social. El Perú profundo demanda una transformación de fondo.
— Evo Morales Ayma (@evoespueblo) January 5, 2023
“We turn the other cheek to the political attacks of the Peruvian right,” Morales said. “But please, stop the massacres, illegal detentions, persecution and terruqueo against our indigenous brothers. There will be no peace without social justice. The deep Peru demands a fundamental transformation.”
As of the first week of January, the southern region of Puno is currently the Peruvian region with the highest number of protests and riot-related incidents.
According to Carlos Posada, the Director of Lima’s Chamber of Commerce (CCL), the ongoing protests, riots, and road blockades have so far caused losses of around 1.2 billion Peruvian Sols ($315.1 million) to Peru’s economy.
Similar far-left riots and protests — with similar cases of foreign leftist incitation or participation — have taken place in the region in the past years. In Chile, a deadly wave of leftist riots that initially began over public transit fare hikes in 2019 — and where foreign individuals from Cuba, Bolivia, Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Colombia were caught participating in the riots — culminated with demands of rewriting the nation’s constitution through the following years. The proposed constitutional rewrite ultimately failed to pass via vote in September.
In Colombia, a wave of leftist riots was unleashed in 2021 in response to then-president Iván Duque’s tax hike proposal to offset costs incurred as a result of the Chinese coronavirus pandemic. The controversial tax proposal was ultimately shelved and replaced with a less hated one — yet, it did nothing to quell the leftist riots.
Reports published at the time showed evidence of foreign leftist influence in the riots coming from Asian social media accounts and from the neighboring socialist regime of Venezuela.
Christian K. Caruzo is a Venezuelan writer and documents life under socialism. You can follow him on Twitter here.
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