Two university students shot dead by police at a government protest

Two students are shot dead by police officers in Peru during demonstration against the removal of president, as interim leader quits after six days and Congress struggle to vote in replacement

  • Peru interim president Manuel Merino resigned Sunday amidst violent protests
  • His resignation comes five days after he replaced President Martín Vizcarra
  • Congress is set to name a third president when it convenes Monday afternoon 
  • Vizcarra faced impeachment trial for the second time in two months last Monday
  • Demonstrations following his ouster have left two people dead, over 112 injured
  • Jack Pintado, 22, and Jordan Sotelo, 24, died after they were struck with lead bullets fired by the Peruvian National Police on Saturday night

Two protesters have been killed amid a wave of demonstrations in Peru following the removal of President Martín Vizcarra and resignation of interim president Manuel Merino, as the Andean nation is left leaderless and in turmoil.

At least 113 protesters have been injured, and as many as 41 demonstrators have been reported missing after they were arrested, according to human rights activists.

Video of a protest Saturday night captured the moment Jack Pintado, 22, knelt and held up the nation’s flag before members of the Peru National Police [PNP] struck him with 11 lead bullets in the face, head and chest. 

Footage of the frantic scene shows demonstrators coming to his aid before he was placed on a wheelchair and taken to Almenara Hospital where he later died.

Jordan Sotelo, 24, also died as a result of a wound he suffered on the chest above the heart after PNP agents shot him at least four times with lead bullets. 

‘My brother died because the police killed him, it’s that simple,’ his older brother Pacha Sotelo said, according to online portal La Lupa. ‘For going out to defend his homeland. There is no need to be afraid, you have to keep going out so his death is not in vain.’ 

On Monday, Attorney General Zoraida launched an investigation against Merino, Prime Minister Antero Flores-Araoz and Interior Minister Gastón Rodríguez for ‘crimes of abuse of authority as well as the intentional homicide’ of Pintado and Sotelo.  

A separate video showed the moment protester Yoel Maylle, 34, was injured while standing with a group of protesters Saturday evening.

He was struck in the helmet by a bullet, and taken to Archbishop Loayza Hospital where he was diagnosed with a concussion.

Agents from the Peru National Police shot and killed university student Jack Pintado on Saturday night in Peru as residents took to the streets to protest the removal of former President Martín Vizcarra last Monday. Pintado was struck by 11 lead bullets in the face, head and chest

University student Jordan Sotelo died as a result of a wound he suffered on the chest above the heart after PNP agents shot him at least four times with lead bullets during a demonstration Saturday

Yoel Maylle (lying on the ground) was at Saturday’s protests in Lima, Peru, when he was struck in the head by a bullet but was saved because he was wearing a helmet. He suffered a concussion

The unrest comes after former President Vizcarra faced a second impeachment trial related to corruption allegations last Monday and was voted out of office by Congress. 

Merino, head of Peru’s Congress, was chosen to replace the centrist Vizcarra but turned in his resignation Sunday. 

The Congress now faces a constitutional crisis, and it is seeking a replacement to helm the country towards elections for April next year. 

Lawmakers failed in a midnight vote to select the only name then put forward, Rocío Silva-Santisteban, a leftist human rights defender.

The country’s fragmented and unpopular legislature will vote again on Monday at 2 pm local time when another name will be on the list: lawmaker Francisco Sagasti, a 76-year-old industrial engineer and former World Bank official.

Jack Pintado was seen in a video holding Peru’s flag before members of the Peru National Police shot him with lead bullets and killed him Saturday night in Lima

A man puts a Peruvian flag on top of the coffin of Jordan Sotelo Camargo, a student who was killed by the police during anti-government protests on Saturday

A caravan of demonstrators on motorcycles ride as they wait for news on who will be the country’s next president, in Lima, Peru, on Sunday night. Manuel Merino announced his resignation following massive protests, unleashed when lawmakers ousted President Martin Vizcarra last Tuesday

Peru’s Congress voted to remove President Martín Vizcarra during an impeachment trial accusing him of corruption last Monday. Manuel Merino, head of Congress, was named interim president last Tuesday but handed in his resignation Sunday as the Andean nation struggled to contain anti-government protests that have left two university students dead and at least 113 injured

The political upheaval adds to the uncertainty facing Peru, the world’s no. 2 copper producer, which has already been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and is heading for its worst economic contraction in a century.

Vizcarra was impeached and removed from office by Congress last Monday over allegations of corruption, which he denies.

Legislators brought the impeachment proceeding forward on allegations that Vizcarra received more than $630,000 in exchange for two construction projects while serving as governor of a small province in southern Peru from 2011 to 2014. 

Vizcarra survived the impeachment vote in September brought by opposition lawmakers who accused him of favoring a little-known singer known as Richard Swing. 

Swing received close to $50,000 in contracts by the Ministry of Culture for activities like motivational speaking during the COVID-19 pandemic. Vizcarra denied any misconduct and lawmakers decided there weren’t grounds to remove him, though a probe continues. 

Local folk artists perform next to a police line outside Congress building in Lima, Peru, as they wait for news from inside on who will be the country’s next president

A protester insults a police officer in downtown Lima, Peru, on Sunday during an anti-government protest against the removal of former President Martín Vizcarra

Merino, who as president of the Congress led the impeachment, succeeded Vizcarra. But he too resigned following the deaths of Pintado and Sotelo as university students and residents took to the streets before his fledgling government and lawmakers threatened to impeach him unless he stood down.

‘There is a political immaturity from some and a lack of self-awareness from others in the face of what has happened in the country in the last week,’ legislator Alberto de Belaunde, from the centrist Morado Party, told reporters.

Supporters of Peruvian ousted President Martin Vizcarra clash with riot police in Lima, Peru, on Saturday

His party is now nominating Sagasti to be Peru’s third president in a week.

‘The main thing for Peru is to regain stability and for this nightmare to end,’ de Belaunde added.

Amid the uncertainty, Peru’s markets and currency have come under pressure. Bonds rose, then fell early on Monday.

Peru has the world’s highest per-capita COVID-19 mortality rate and has seen one of Latin America´s worst economic contractions. The International Monetary Fund projects a 14% decline in GDP this year. 

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