Protests all across Peru demanding the resignation of President Pedro Castillo Terrones have left 1 dead and at least 25 law enforcement officers injured in the town of Ica, south of Lima.
Demonstrators from lorry driver unions clashed with police after setting up several roadblocks, where they were joined by agricultural associations since the beginning of this week.
Castillo had decreed a curfew Tuesday in a move to control the growing unrest but it was revoked as soon as the head of state realized it had only made matters worse in Lima and El Callao.
Interior Minister Alfonso Chávarry told reporters Wednesday that 25 officers were injured after being hit with stones and sticks thrown by dozens of demonstrators. Police repelled them using tear gas.
The protesters tried to set the Courthouse on fire. They also looted the offices as well as a retail store nearby and stoned the prosecutor's office and the Electoral Court, and smashed ATMs.
The new protests were spurred by the rising price of fuel, food, and fertilizers. So far four people have been killed in the various riots.
The curfew was the first since those decreed by former President Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000), who is now in jail for crimes against humanity.
Defense Minister José Gavidia told journalists that the curfew was motivated by intelligence information indicating that acts of violence were going to become generalized, especially in downtown Lima, so extreme measures had to be taken.
In Ica, hundreds of protesters were blocking for the third day Wednesday the key road along the Pacific coast leading to Lima. Travelers were stranded while outnumbered police officers failed to clear the area.
Two major Peruvian newspapers - El Comercio and La República - agreed in their Wednesday editorials that Castillo must leave power.
At this point, his incompetence looks incorrigible, his presidency unsustainable and his resignation, the best way out of the situation of misgovernment in which we find ourselves, said El Comercio.
La República wrote it is the exact time for Castillo to resign, vice-president Dina Boluarte to take over and general elections to be called. It is time for all of them to leave.
The president had admitted last week in Parliament that Peru was experiencing an economic crisis, which he blamed on the COVID-19 pandemic followed by the recent conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
The monthly inflation for March was 1.48%, the highest in 26 years. In February 1996 it had been 1.53%.
After eight months in office, Castillo has a negative image of 68%, according to a survey by the Institute of Peruvian Studies. The president has reshuffled his cabinet four times, after carelessly appointing key officials, many of whom are under investigation for alleged corruption and were forced to resign.
Despite Castillo's poor public perception, members of the one-House Parliament stand even worse, their negative image reaching 79%.
Castillo has not yet named a successor to Health Minister Hernán Condori, who was impeached last week by Congress for promoting products without scientific endorsement and whose administration reduced vaccination against COVID-19.