The top prosecutor’s office announced on Tuesday that it launched an inquiry into new President Dina Boluarte, Prime Minister Alberto Otarola, Defense Minister Jorge Chavez, and Interior Minister Victor Rojas over violent clashes.
The office added in its announcement that it would also investigate former Prime Minister Pedro Angulo and former Interior Minister Cesar Cervantes, both of whom served under Boluarte for just a few weeks, to see whether their involvement in the mishandling the protests and the deadly police crackdown amounted to “genocide.”
The inquiry comes after 17 civilians were killed in the country’s southern Puno region on Monday, the most lethal day of protests since former President Pedro Castillo was ousted and detained last month. The deadly violence continued on Tuesday, with protesters attacking a police car and setting it on fire, killing the officer inside.
Meanwhile, the new government won a vote of confidence in Congress by a wide margin on Tuesday evening. A loss of confidence would have led to the resignation of the prime minister and the reshuffling of the cabinet.
The unrest began after Castillo, who is serving 18 months of pre-trial detention on charges of rebellion, was arrested and jailed amid his attempt to dissolve Congress and rule by decree.
The protesters now want Boluarte, who replaced Castillo, to resign and make way for the former head of state to resume power. They are also calling for the dissolution of Congress, early elections, and reforms in constitutional law.
Speaking with representatives from the country’s regions and various political institutions at a “national agreement” meeting earlier this week, Boluarte said she could not grant the protesters’ key demands.
“The only thing that was in my hands was moving forward the elections, which we have already proposed,” she said.
Boluarte accused the protesters of sowing discord and promoting chaos in the country. “What you are asking for is a pretext to continue generating chaos in the cities.”
Human rights groups have accused authorities of using firearms against protesters and dropping smoke bombs from helicopters. The army says protesters have used weapons and homemade explosives.