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Peruvian trade union leader speaks about resistance to overthrow of President Castillo

Interview with Cristiano Mayta
Interview by staff |
January 4, 2023
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Cristiano Mayta.
Cristiano Mayta.

Fight Back! interviewed Cristiano Mayta, a trade unionist in Peru on January 3 to learn more about the situation in Perú after the overthrow of democratically-elected President Pedro Castillo by an oligarchy-dominated Congress. There is a national strike called for January 4 amid violent repression.

Fight Back!: What is your organization?

Cristiano Mayta: I am the international secretary of the union SINATREL at a Coca-Cola bottling plant. I am also a member of an organization called Socialist Left of Peru (Izquierda Socialista Perú).

Fight Back!: From your perspective, what happened with President Castillo? Was it a pure overthrow or something more complicated?

Mayta: It was an overthrow of President Castillo by the Congress after he tried to dissolve the Congress who were going to vote for a third time for his removal. Castillo had consulted with the Ministers of Defense and Interior and was told the armed forces supported his constitutional right to dissolve a Congress that was clearly not acting in the best interests of the people. But the armed forces abandoned him, sold him out, and lied to him. No more than 20 minutes after President Castillo addressed the nation of his decision, the armed forces publicly stated they did not support the president’s decision. Then they moved to arrest him. So, despite what the media is saying about Castillo, it was clearly the Congress overthrowing the President.

Fight Back!: What has been the level of resistance since the overthrow? And who are the main groups involved?

Mayta: Since December 7, the people have risen up and there has been continued mobilizations all over the country but more highly concentrated in the south of the country. After violent repression from the military and police - some called it a massacre - that resulted in over two dozen dead and hundreds injured, something of a truce was called for the holidays. But not all agreed to this truce; in Puno, on the southern border with Bolivia, they remained firm with their protests, they continued blocking streets and the bridge for the international border.

Fight Back!: What are the demands of the groups involved in the national strike?

Mayta: On December 28, in our city of Arequipa, various social sectors and groups from ten or eleven regions nearby gathered to meet and agreed to retake the streets and continue mobilizations on January 4. This is something of our own congress of peoples gathered to agree to our demands and initiate an indefinite national strike. Here in the south of Perú, we are more active and militant because we don’t believe what is being said in the media, and in Lima.

Our demands are: first, renounce the usurper, Dina Boluarte from the presidency. Second, shut down the Congress and call for immediate elections as soon as possible. Third, a popular referendum to create a constitutional assembly, to elect a new popular assembly that will create a new constitution. Four, immediate release of President Castillo who was unjustly arrested and this is a grave abuse. We renounce the false accusations and usurpations of the constitution.

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