The wounded from police violence demand health and justice a year after the protests in Lima | International

Young people protest in Lima on November 11, 2020.
Young people protest in Lima on November 11, 2020.Aldair Mejía (EFE)

Gloria Alejandro is a student who has the aftermath of being shot by the police when she participated in the mass protests in Lima a year ago, which forced interim president Manuel Merino to resign after six days in power. The police violence that week left about thirty protesters with some kind of disability, who denounced that the health system has not been able to take care of them properly, either due to the pandemic or chronic deficiencies. “They have to take responsibility for us, even if the ministers resign. Several injured have had many expenses in therapies, medicines and even surgeries “, explained Alejandro this Friday in a session in Congress.

The Commission for the Wounded from the November protests and the December land stoppages marched this Saturday through the center of Lima to demand health, reparation, justice and guarantees of non-repetition, one year after the protests. The demonstrations began on the night of November 9 of last year in the capital, in rejection of the vote of the parliamentary majority of Congress that removed the then president Martín Vizcarra from office, who was under fiscal investigation for having received bribes when he was regional governor. . The then president of Congress, Manuel Merino, assumed as interim president.

Hundreds of thousands of people in all regions took to the streets against what they considered a coup, an illegitimate maneuver so that the banks that had private interests took over the Executive. “He’s not my president”, “Merino out” or “Coup rats” were some of the most visible slogans on the cardboard signs of those days. The brutal police repression in those days left some 200 injured and two young people dead, Inti Sotelo and Bryan Pintado, who were in the front line of the protests on November 14.

Attorney General Zoraida Ávalos presented a constitutional indictment to Congress in early October against the former interim president and members of his cabinet, for the crimes committed a year ago, but the Legislature has not processed it. Bryan’s father, Óscar Pintado, said on Friday that despite the fact that the president of Parliament, María del Carmen Alva, belongs to Merino’s political party, he hopes they will not shield him and put the case up for debate. “There is anger and rage because the politicians in the end only look out for their interests and not for those who do need it,” added the spokeswoman for the injured, who suffered a double broken foot and has trouble walking.

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Hanns Licera, a geographic engineering student, is another of those affected. A police officer smashed his knee with a bullet a year ago. He has spent his money on surgery at a private clinic because the public hospital that treated him misdiagnosed him, and now he needs a second operation. “I am spending a lot of money, the savings I had disappeared; donations, too. I used to work, it was the sustenance for my family, my mother has had to go back to work, my life has been a very strong change. Now I see that announcement from the Ministry of the Interior (the police inspectorate shelved the internal investigation) and I do not understand how the police can be so cheeky. This investigation presents too many irregularities, we are the traces of what they did, “said Licera in the session convened by three congressmen this Friday.

Percy Pérez Shapiama was one of the first protesters to be injured on November 12. The police punctured him in the belly with gunshots. They operated on him to rebuild the small intestine but the large intestine does not work for him, since then he has been tied to a bag. In addition, in the surgery they had to cauterize a vein in his leg, so when he walks it becomes inflamed and he feels pain, he explains in a virtual interview. He is another of the spokesmen for the Commission for the Wounded. “Hanns had to spend 17,000 soles (more than 4,200 dollars) to have an operation: we are waiting for the State to replace that money. In my case, there was no follow-up from the hospital, it does not do things as they should be. I have not had physical rehabilitation, only once via telecall, what are we talking about? ”, He denounces.

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“The Ministry of Labor offered us a job, but it has not materialized. Several of the injured have children, have stopped working and all expenses are out of pocket. The multisectoral commission with which we spoke was deactivated in June because the governments were not stable. We are asking that it be reinstalled ”, he adds.

Carlos Flores was one of the dozens of volunteer brigadistas who took part in the protests in Lima after seeing the brutality of the police. He adapted his car and that of another paramedic friend as ambulances to give first aid and transferred dozens of injured to nearby sanatoriums. Realizing that the police shot one of the young men on the corner where his 15-member brigade worked, he regretted not being able to save him and vowed to save others on his behalf. “For me it was hard. I had a guilty feeling that I hadn’t been there. Within months of the march it was very important to meet Inti’s mother and father and Bryan’s father. Dr. Kim told him ‘I was with his son, he did not go alone, we did everything we could,’ ”he says excitedly by phone. “We promised Bryan’s dad that everything we could do in the squad would be on behalf of his son. In the pandemic we have helped many people, with transfers or by getting them oxygen, “he says.

For now, the impact of the protests has reached the academy, literature and activism of photojournalists who demand justice for the victims. The political scientist Eduardo Villanueva published the essay Fast, violent and very close. The mobilizations of November 2020 and the future of digital politics. A year after the events, amid the demands of the bereaved and the injured, Villanueva maintains: “The country continues to be as unfair as it was in November. Unfortunately, once the catharsis ended, we were not even able to process the minimum of their rights as citizens ”.

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The writer and lawyer Tadeo Palacios published this week an anthology of stories that includes the little novel Tomorrow never comes, which gives the book its name. The narrative reflects the difficult experiences of young people in police stations and police violence, but also the strength of the digital sphere in the events of November 2020. “I thought the news as a dynamic and lacerating chorus of the different actors of # 14N: the protesters, the victims of police brutality, certain press and their desire to criminalize the protest, and the forces of order and their outrageous behavior. Thus, literature overflows the aesthetic project and is also an anchor of memory against the silencing of testimonies of violence (violence that in Peru has never ceased) ”, he assures.

The Association of Photojournalists of Peru has prepared the digital book Heroes of the bicentennial. Days of struggle for democracy in Peru with 214 photos of the demonstrations in Lima and other regions. At the launch, the book designer Helen Terrones commented that she was not in the demonstrations because she has two small babies, but she participated with the cacerolazos: “This is a document that is part of history: it has marked a milestone of this generation for the will and the voice they can have ”.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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