On Tuesday March 21, 22-year-old Rosalino Florez Valverde, who had been shot with at least 36 lead pellets on January 11 during an anti-government demonstration in Cusco, Peru, was pronounced dead. According to reports, the young man died of multiple organ failure, caused by pellet injuries in his thorax.
On Wednesday March 22, during his funeral in the capital Lima, Florez’s family members demanded justice for him after his agonizing death. In a press conference later that day, Florez’s mother Leonarda Valverde said that she does not want any type of compensation from the government, but justice for her son and conviction for the policeman who shot him. In the evening, several dozen people accompanying Florez’s relatives held a vigil outside the Supreme Court, demanding justice for all victims who had been killed at the hands of security forces in the past three and a half months of social protests.
⚫ Vigilia frente al poder judicial por Rosalino Florez Valverde, joven que murió producto del impacto de 36 perdigones.
¡Cuando un luchador social muere, nunca muere!
Fotos DHSF pic.twitter.com/BKHx3kJqMk
— DerechosHumanosSinFronteras (@dhsfcusco) March 23, 2023
On January 11, Rosalino Florez, together with his brother Juan José Florez, participated in a protest in the southern city of Cusco demanding the resignation of de-facto President Dina Boluarte. When police repressed the protest, Rosalino was hit by a volley of pellets, fired by a police officer from a few meters away. The incident was recorded by a security camera in the area. The video showed Rosalino Florez hiding behind a tree, waiting for the police’s attack against protesters to end, when he was surprisingly attacked and chased by a policeman who then fired pellets at him.
Rosalino Flórez (22) se esconde detrás del tronco de un árbol. Su vida peligra. Está en medio del intercambio de pedradas de los manifestantes y las bombas lacrimógenas y perdigones de los policías. Se acurruca al árbol. Los manifestantes retroceden, los policías los persiguen. pic.twitter.com/Ivrami7P3g
— José Víctor Salcedo (@Josvicsa) March 22, 2023
After the violent episode, he was admitted to an Intensive Care Unit of the Antonio Lorena Hospital in Cusco. Later, due to the seriousness of his injuries, he was transferred to the Arzobispo Loayza Hospital in Lima, where he passed away after being hospitalized for over two months. According to Peru’s Ombudsman’s Office, with Florez’s death, the death toll from state repression of anti-government and anti-congress protests rose to 67.
Progressive congresswoman for Cusco city Ruth Luque condemned Florez’s death and expressed condolences to his family. “I just received the sad news of the passing of Rosalino Florez, his body couldn’t resist any longer. My solidarity and condolences to his family. A new death burdens this government. Rosalino was 22 years old, whose dreams were snatched away by this government,” tweeted Luque.
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 who identify themselves with Castillo, a former rural school teacher and a peasant leader, have been mobilizing in different parts of the country to demand radical political changes. Their demands include Castillo’s immediate release, Dina Boluarte’s resignation, the closure of the right-wing dominated Congress, advanced general elections by the end of the year, and a referendum on a constituent assembly to draft a new constitution.