By Felipe Vera
On August 23, at least 13 people were trampled and killed as a result of the Peruvian police launching tear gas projectiles into a club and locking the doors. Under the pretext of COVID-19 restrictions, the reactionary Peruvian state is attempting wipe their hands clean and pin the deaths on the leaseholder of the building.
That evening, many young adults had gathered at a night club in the working class neighborhood of Los Olivos in Lima. According to reports from the victims’ families, as the police raided the club they shot tear gas bombs inside and locked the doors on attendees, trapping them which led to panic. As a result, 13 people were trampled on and killed, 12 of them being women and one man. Another six were injured and 20 people were detained by police.
Although some representatives of the Old State such as Interior Minister Lieutenant Jorge Montoya Perez deny any use of such force and tear gas, others have been more transparent in their appraisal of the role and actions of the police. According to the ruling class press RPP Noticias, Walter Martos, the president of the Council of Ministers, a government body which coordinates multi-sectoral national policies within Peru, stated: “From our point of view, there has been no failure from the Police operation. The Police are fulfilling their exact function that corresponds to them, that the entire population demands that it be fulfilled and that we as the Government enforce.”
The scapegoating of clubgoers and those who ‘break curfews’ only serves as a maneuver to distance the Old State’s role from its failure to provide adequate healthcare and resources to stem the spread of COVID-19, as well as a way to stifle political unrest as the global economic crisis continues to deepen. The aftermath of this police operation goes to show that the state’s enforcement of COVID-19 restrictions can be used to justify repression and police violence, and in some cases can be more deadly than the virus itself.