Lima was the scene for three separate national public worker protests Monday. Seven-hundred striking forensic doctors demonstrated, along with 10,000 education administrative workers, who have been on strike since June 4, while primary and secondary school teachers from all provinces marched outside of Lima.
The protests coincided with the release of a poll by DATUM showing a drop in popularity of President Ollanta Humala. Just 14 percent of Peruvians now approve of his performance, amounting to a 14-point drop in just one month.RELATED: Peru’s First Lady Vows to Stop Money Laundering Investigation
The common issue binding the dozens of labor conflicts taking place across the country is low salaries. The protest movement is demanding the president implement policies that serve the people, not private businesses, after several social conflicts arose around proposed mining projects.
The president’s disastrously low popularity comes after his handling of the Tia Maria anti-mining and pro-agriculture protests, which left at least four dead, including protesters.
“We are here for a real increase in salaries for the thousands of teachers,” said Lucio Jayo a public school teacher. “Almost 90 percent of teachers have their assets frozen. For 20 years there hasn't been a real increase in salaries. Not in line with the cost of living. The cost of living has increased, but the different governments in office, including this government in particular, have frozen our salaries."
Socima Cevallos, a secretary in the public education sector voiced his frustration, saying he had traveled a long way to participate in the protests in Huancavelica, a city 3,674 meters above sea level in the Andes.
“How many lies has this government told us to get elected? They told us there would be a salary increase, an improvement for the poor, but now they have forgotten about us and that is why we have come by bus from a town 72 kilometers away from Huancavelica.”
Political analyst and director of the Institute of Legal Defense, Glatzer Tuesta commented on the wave of unrest, "If this government has done anything it is unifying discontent.”
“Before, there was the possibility of the government resolving what was happening, sector-by-sector and problem-by-problem ... this has not been done and today they are all protesting but now including one more factor, the issue that each day they believe less in the president and each day he has less time to resolve (the problems)."