Majority of Peruvians disapprove of the Dina Boluarte regime, says survey

Despite over twelve weeks of mass protests and widespread rejection, Boluarte refuses to resign, while unleashing brutal repression against peaceful protests

February 28, 2023 by Peoples Dispatch
A protester in the center of Lima holds a sign that reads: “Dina Boluarte, resign.” Photo: Zoe Alexandra

The disapproval rating of Peru’s de-facto President Dina Boluarte has risen from 71% in January to 77% in February, while that of the right-wing dominated Congress has increased from 88% to 90%, according to a new survey conducted by the Institute of Peruvian Studies (IEP). The study was carried out between February 18 and 22, days after the Congress rejected a third bill that called for general elections to be held in 2023, one of fundamental demands raised in the ongoing social uprising. Its complete results were published on February 27.

According to the opinion poll, the rejection rate of the Boluarte administration was the highest in the southern macro-region, where 86% of the population disapproved of her management and said that she should resign. Similarly, the rejection rate of the Congress was also the highest in the same region. 95% of the population disapproved of the performance of current parliamentarians and demanded that they leave office immediately.

Likewise, the census showed that 69% of the Peruvians believed that the general elections should be held in 2023, and not in 2024. Meanwhile, one third or 33% of those consulted believed that the Congress seeks to stay until 2026. Additionally, 28% believed that in the end, the parliament would approve advancing elections to 2023, meanwhile, 24% believed that the legislature would approve holding elections in 2024.

With respect to the issue of a new constitution, the poll showed that 47% were in favor of making some changes to the 1993 Constitution. Meanwhile, 36% said that the dictatorship-era constitution should be replaced completely.

On December 7, 2022, democratically elected left-wing President Pedro Castillo was removed from office in a legislative coup and subsequently arrested. Since then, hundreds of thousands of people, mainly from the long-neglected and marginalized countryside of Peru, have been mobilizing in different parts of the country to demand radical political changes. Their demands include Castillo’s immediate release, Boluarte’s resignation, the closure of the Congress, advanced general elections this year, and a referendum on a constituent assembly to draft a new constitution.

According to the IEP study, 58% of those interviewed said that they identify with the protests taking place in the country. At the same time, 40% believed that the protests would intensify in the near future, 55% believed that the protests would lead to the advancement of elections, and 51% believed that the protests would achieve Boluarte’s resignation.

Nevertheless, despite over twelve weeks of mass protests across the country and evidently widespread rejection of her regime, Boluarte refuses to resign, while unleashing constant police and military repression against protests and strikes. According to the Ombudsman’s Office, the heavy repression has resulted in the deaths of more than 60 people and has left over 1,200 injured.

In the case of the approval rating of the public security forces, the National Police’s rating fell by 9 points: from 50% in December 2022 to 41% in February. Meanwhile, the Armed Forces’ rating dropped by 13 points: from 61% to 48%. The disapproval was the highest in the south, standing at 74% and 69%, respectively.

Since Castillo’s inauguration in July 2021, the far-right sectors in the Congress, who never accepted his electoral victory, made constant attempts to overthrow him and destabilize his government. In the light of this political crisis, around 60% of Peruvians believed that early elections could be the solution and around 30% believed that Castillo should finish his term. The solution never included the assumption to the presidency of Castillo’s Vice President Boluarte, nor did it include the current Congress remaining in office.

In this regard, Álvaro Henzler Vernal, spokesman for the Citizen Movement, a coalition of over 400 human rights organizations and community groups, warned against weakening of democracy in the country. “Not even 1 out of 10 approve of the work of Congress. Almost 9 out of 10 approve of early elections in 2023 or 2024. Blind and deaf is an understatement to describe those who in theory represent us. They only represent their own interests. They contribute with their stubbornness to further weaken democracy,” he tweeted.

Meanwhile, Peru announced on February 25 that the government was definitively withdrawing their ambassador from Mexico following comments from Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador against the coup and violence against protesters. In January, the Boluarte government similarly announced that they were withdrawing the Peruvian ambassador from Honduras due to comments made by Xiomara in the CELAC Summit. Former Bolivian president Evo Morales has been declared a ‘persona non-grata’ by Peruvian Congress due to his comments rejecting the coup.