LIMA, Peru (AP) — Attacked in other countries during social and political protests, historical monuments and statues in Peru’s capital came out of recent street demonstrations practically intact.
Peru plunged into turmoil in early November when Congress voted to oust President Martín Vizcarra. Protesters filled the streets, decrying the move as a parliamentary coup, and some clashed with the police. After a week, there were two protesters dead and more than 200 injured.
But monuments were practically spared, in part because they were protected with plastic or fabrics, but also because they were not targeted by protesters.
Luis Bogdanovich, municipal manager for the recovery of the Historic Center of Lima, said 30 out of 91 downtown monuments were covered with plastic, fabric or boarded up, like eight statues of national heroes from the 19th century. The protection was implemented practically the same day the protests started.
The official said that even some demonstrators helped authorities to wrap some of the statues.
Some other monuments were simply surrounded by police officers during the protests to avoid any damage.
In the main plaza of Lima, the monument to José de San Martín, Peru’s liberator, was covered with fabric and its base boarded up. The wooden planks around the pedestal were used as blackboards, where protesters wrote messages against politicians and corruption in the country.
Art historian Miguel Sánchez Flores thinks protesters didn’t damage any monument because “they didn’t summarize what they were opposed to.”
Lawmakers ousted Vizcarra, a popular president, using a 19th century-era clause claiming he showed “permanent moral incapacity.” They accused him of taking over $630,000 in bribes in exchange for two construction contracts while governor of a small province years ago. Prosecutors are investigating the accusations, but Vizcarra has not been charged and he denies any wrongdoing.
Francisco Sagasti, a lawmaker and an engineer by training, was chosen by Congress in mid-November as the new president of Peru, its third in just over a week of protests.
More than three weeks after the first protest, monuments are still covered in plastic or fabric, although protests have faded in the capital.