LIMA, 4 APRIL (Reuters ) – On Tuesday, Peruvian President Pedro Castillo issued a curfew in the city, Lima, prohibiting citizens from leaving their homes in an attempt to quell nationwide protests over rising fuel and fertiliser prices.
“To defend the fundamental rights of all people, the cabinet has agreed to announce a ban on citizen mobility from 2 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, April 5,” Castillo said in a speech televised worldwide shortly before midnight.
Protests against rising fuel and fertiliser costs, sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, entered their second week on Monday, as the administration raced to lower prices.
The demonstrations are a painful reality for Marxist Pedro Castillo, a peasant farmer and schoolteacher who was elected last year with the overwhelming backing of the rural poor.
However, even in rural areas, his popularity has dwindled and now stands at around 25% nationwide. Castillo has survived two impeachment attempts and gone through an unparalleled number of Cabinet members in his eight months in office.
According to the authorities, the protests have turned increasingly violent, with at least four people killed.
Protesters set fire to toll booths and battled with police near the southern city of Ica on Monday.
“This strike isn’t only occurring here; it’s happening all over Peru,” one demonstrator in Ica, who did not want to be recognised, said.
Farmers and truckers blocked the major highways heading to Lima last week, causing a sharp increase in food costs.
The government replied over the weekend with a proposal to eliminate most fuel taxes in an attempt to cut prices, as well as a 10% increase in the minimum wage to 1,205 soles ($332) per month.
Peru has recently declared an agricultural emergency as a result of increased fertiliser costs brought on by Western sanctions against Russia, a key provider of potash, ammonia, urea, and other soil nutrients.
Peru, like many other countries, was already dealing with excessive inflation prior to the war. In March, inflation hit a 26-year high, largely driven by rising fuel and food prices.