Edgar Prado (51) was a driver and mechanic from Ayacucho, in southern Peru. He spent the majority of Dec. 15 at his garage repairing his Toyota Hilux pickup. Protests started to rise in an airport just a few blocks away.
He would die from a gunshot to the chest at 5.56 p.m. on that same day. By 6.00 a.m., he was dead. According to Reuters security footage and an autopsy, he is one of ten victims of violence in Peru that has raged for the past few weeks.
Protests in Peru have been the most violent in recent years. 22 people were killed and the youngest was just 15. These deaths will fuel anger despite the fact that violence has been low during the Christmas period, which is heavily Catholic.
After trying to illegally dissolve Congress in order to avoid losing an impeachment vote, Castillo was forced to resign on Dec. 7. Shortly thereafter, he was elected out of the office and taken into custody for “rebellion”. The charges are denied by him.
His arrest caused anger towards Congress and the country’s political elite, which are widely regarded as corrupt and self-serving. This was especially true in Peru’s southern regions, where high food and energy prices have made it difficult for people to eat.
The new president Dina Boluarte attempted to stop the protests that saw buildings burned, roads blocked and airfields infiltrated. On Dec. 14, the government declared an emergency nationwide. This deprived some citizens of their civic rights and allowed the military to assist the police to maintain public order.
A few days later, protestors from Ayacucho invaded a runway at the regional airport. They were located just one block from Prado’s garage. Flights were stopped at the airport.
To retake control, the army was deployed.
Security cameras near the airport show protesters entering the runway at 2:20 p.m. Some were throwing stones and tires, while others gathered to support troops. Above, military helicopters hovered. According to the public ombudsman, gas grenades were dropped on demonstrators below.
At 5:05 p.m., violence began to spread beyond the airport’s limits and people started shooting on the streets. Ten people were killed or seriously injured in the fighting by the close of the night. On Dec. 21, the last victim died.
Security camera footage taken from Calle Los Angeles near Prado’s house shows protestors and other people standing on the streets at 5.55 pm.
A sudden shock of something on camera causes the crowd to run. A person lies down on the sidewalk to the side of the road. Edgar, who appears to be walking in the opposite direction to the people and out of his house entrance, is among the group that comes to inspect the individual. While others go off, he kneels down and remains with the individual.
The footage of Edgar collapses and is then shot one minute later. According to his autopsy, Edgar died from hemorrhagic hypovolemic stress, pulmonary, and liver lacerations, and open chest trauma due to a gunshot wound to the chest.
Edith, his sister, said that the military was supposedly equipped to combat terrorism and not take lives from our citizens. She also stated that he hadn’t been part of the protests. He was basically killed by the military.
Edgar fled the home he shared with her, she claimed. He saw people being injured and fled. This narrative seems to be consistent with footage from Reuters. She displayed Reuters bullet casings on the doorframe and showed marks.
“Justice for my brother is all I desire.”
According to the military, they were subjected to serious attacks and had a reason for a forceful response.
A military unit was headed from the town center to Ayacucho’s airport at 1:45 p.m. Dec. 15. A crowd of “blunt items, explosives, and handmade firearms” attacked the group. The armed force released a statement the next day.
According to the army, this put troops’ physical integrity in danger. They acted according to “established legal procedures, applying strict current norms concerning the use of force.”
According to Peru’s military regulations, firearms can be used in an emergency situation to defend themselves or protect others, in case of danger of death or serious injury, or to prevent particularly deadly crimes that could pose a risk to their lives.
The law also states that lethal force should only be used as a last resort.
Reuters repeatedly attempted to interview Peruvian military and police leaders via phone and face-to-face. A reporter attempted to reach the general responsible for operations at the Ayacucho military base but was refused access.
The United Nations called for an investigation into the deaths of children during protests. Inter-American Commission on Human Rights condemned both violence perpetrated by security forces as well as protesters and called for dialogue.
These deaths are a source of anger for many in the poor Andean or Amazonian regions, where they feel ignored despite their copper and oil wealth. Numerous people want to see major changes in politics and reform of the constitution.
“They aimed bullets at our brothers,” said Rocio Melgar, a leader of the protest in Ayacucho who blamed the government for allowing violence to occur.
We’ll continue moving forward. Things can’t remain like this.
Another footage taken at a nearby airport parking lot shared by Reuters also shows a man looking up from a building. He runs behind a tree to hide when something strikes his arm.
A second man can be seen running across the plaza, which is lined with trees. A person suddenly drops to the ground and runs along the street toward the parking garage camera. According to the owner of the garage, the victim died.
Residents in the neighborhood around the airport reported that sporadic gunfire was continuing well into the evening.
Edith Aguilar claims that Jose Luis (20 years old) was at work in a soft drink factory from 6.30 pm on the day of the protests. He was returning home when he was shot and killed. According to Reuters, he was killed by severe head trauma due to a gunshot.
Aguilar said that gunfire was everywhere. He lives near the airport. You couldn’t go outside.
Aguilar stated that her sister-in-law called to ask if her son was home. He was walking down the street and she had earlier heard that someone had been murdered.
Aguilar stated, “My son was returning from work.” It’s a lie that terrorists claim we are, it’s true.
According to Jhonathan, a 19-year-old victim, who was wounded during the Ayacucho protests on October 21, he died of internal bleeding. This happened a week before Reuters received data from Peru’s ombudsman.
His family marched to protest by bringing his coffin along to the spot where he was killed and then laying it down on the ground as a group played. Under a large red banner that commemorated the victims of the “massacre”, one mourner exclaimed protest slogans.
Luzmila Alarcon was Jhonathan’s aunt and also spoke out at the memorial service to tell Reuters that they didn’t have to fire like that. It looked like soldiers clashing, but it was civilians versus the military.
She stated that the deaths would cause more anger, as people look for someone to blame.
She stated, “It is impossible that any government or authority accepts responsibility for this.” They weren’t accidental or stray bullets. These were military direct shots. They were not able to calm down the people.