PERU. Lima: After a week of escalating nationwide protests that resulted in the deaths of at last two people, provisional President Manuel Merino resigned from office on Sunday.
Merino is the former president of parliament and assumed control after the congressional body voted in favor of impeaching President Martín Vizcarra last week on grounds of corruption.
Peruvians quickly responded with protests in major cities like Lima, Cusco, and Huaraz, which were dismissed initially as a handful of opposition party sympathizers.
It’s not about getting Vizcarra back
“I don’t think people want Vizcarra back as a president,” Luis Cano, a Peruvian from Huaraz told Transcontinental Times. “They [Congress] needs to vote to choose a new one, but this new president has to guarantee the elections in April.”
Cano continued, “[Congress] had a meeting about it yesterday and so far, nothing.”
“The next thing to do is eliminate what we call immunidad parlamentaria, which means congress members can’t be prosecuted or go to jail, even if they commit a crime,” Cano added.
These statements echo other Peruvians who have spoken out against what many are calling a legislative coup to remove Vizcarra only five months before their general election is set to take place in April of next year.
A palpable undercurrent of fear for the future of their democracy lies at the heart of the protests ignited by Vizcarra’s impeachment.
Constitutional changes may be on the horizon
Jeff Brown is a Cusco resident from the United States who has experienced the post-Vizcarra impeachment demonstrations and watched them grow from the beginning. “Well it seems obvious Congress would really like the protests to stop, but there is no turning back the clock now,” he told Transcontinental Times. “While Peruvians feel they won a small victory, a much larger portion of the populace is aware of the degree to which Congress will go to protect their corrupt practices.”
He added, “Now people are looking to change the constitution to prevent Congress from abusing their power.”
Merino calls for peace and unity
“I want to let the whole country know that I’m resigning,” Merino said in a public statement on Sunday after receiving pressure from other members of Congress, including current President Luis Valdez. Merino asked for peace and unity among Peruvians during the nation’s difficult transition.