Protests in Peru: Why a Change Was Made to Summer Trip

One of the opportunities that the Language Department at Saint Ignatius College Prep offers is the chance to travel to a different country over the summer. This year, the Spanish faculty originally planned a trip for Peru, but the destination changed from Peru to Spain. The change in the country may seem sudden, but it was made for a reason.

Protests and demonstrations have been taking place in Peru due to the change in government that was made on December 7, 2022. These protests are known to escalate quickly due to clashes the protesters have had with law enforcement, resulting in casualties. A state of emergency has also been put in, meaning that the military forces can assist law enforcement when dealing with the protesters. Certain parts of the country are struggling due to shortages in fuel, gas, and supplies. With the road blockades and curfews put in place, it would be difficult for tourists to get around. The closure of airports has also made it difficult for visitors to get in or out of the country.

These protests are a result of the arrest of former President Pedro Castillo. Before the Congress in Peru could attempt to impeach him, Castillo responded by attempting to dissolve the legislature. His plan was to then form a new emergency government that ruled by decree until a new legislature could be elected to form a new constitution. Congress then held a meeting, where the majority voted to have Castillo removed from office, and had him arrested on the charge of “rebellion and conspiracy” His arrest resulted in the protest that we see today, and many demanded his release so he could be reinstated. Castillo had always been viewed as a voice for the marginalized population of Peru when the elite had previously held all the power. Those of the poor and working class have been fighting for his release, though the new President of Peru and former Vice President Dina Boluarte suggest that the protests have been infiltrated by terrorist groups to add to the chaos. 

As for the change in destination, it was made to ensure the safety of the students. Señora Alfaro says, “When the president of Peru was impeached and when the Vice President was put in power, it created a lot of disturbances. There were thousands of tourists trapped in Machu Picchu who couldn’t get out.” As for what is going on in Peru, Señora Alfaro states, “I feel for the Peruvian people since tourism is their number one industry. Tourists are afraid to go there, and especially after the pandemic, their economy is going to have a hard time recovering from the impact. It will be especially difficult for the small businesses to recover.” Giselle Quezada ‘24, who will be attending the trip herself, adds “I know about all the stuff that’s going on in Peru, and while I don’t think anything would have happened if we went, I still feel a bit safer since we’re going to Spain.” Spain itself had been requested by the students before, so while the change in country may not anger any students, it is obvious that Peru will be affected by the lack of tourists visiting the country, and their economy could only worsen as protests continue.

As of March 6, the UN has called for an end to the amount of force and violence law enforcement has used to cease the protests. While protests have affected the plans of students at Ignatius, what is going on in Peru is much more important than a summer trip being disrupted. In all the chaos, 49 have been killed, one being a law enforcement agent and the rest being protesters, while 1,301 have been injured. There is not much that any Ignatius student, or any American citizen, can do to affect the outcome of the protests, so all anyone can do right now is pray that the violence will soon come to an end.