Attack on Peru’s President Dina Boluarte spurs security detail shake up

By January 25, 2024

Lima, Peru — Some politicians in Peru are questioning the safety of President Dina Boluarte following a physical attack against her at a rally January 20 in Peru’s central Ayacucho region. 

Prime Minister Alberto Otárola this week criticized the president’s security detail, saying they were “relaxed” and didn’t take the necessary precautions to protect her, according to a report in Gestión

“There was a lack of security,” said Otárola. “The president is the president, she is the head of state and this lack of security cannot happen again.” 

Last weekend, Boluarte was visiting a town in Ayacucho when a woman came out of the crowd evading security and grabbed the president by the chest, tugging on her multiple times before police separated the two. 

The alleged attacker, Ruth Bárcena, leads the Association of Relatives of those Killed and Injured in Ayacucho. 

She accused Boluarte of being responsible for the death of her husband, Leonardo Ancco, one of the civilians who died during protests that lasted from December to March 2022. 

Prior to the attack, reporters captured footage of relatives of the deceased in the protests shouting at Boluarte. 

“Dina, murderer! Accursed!” and “Ayacucho hates you,” they shouted. 

This incident immediately prompted criticism toward the presidential security detail. In addition to condemning the attack on the president, Prime Minister Otárola also announced proposed changes to the security detail. 

“The president, according to the Constitution, personifies the Nation, and this is an affront to the Nation,” he said. “Violence, especially against a woman, in this case, the president and a mother, affects everyone, affecting governance.”  

On the day of Otárola’s remarks, the executive branch removed the president’s security detail and replaced the head of the National Intelligence Directorate (DINI), General Roger Arista.

The following day, General Jorge Angulo, who had held the position of Police Chief since March 2023, was also replaced. 

A resolution published in state media El Peruano stated: “Serious negligence has been evident in the control and command of the Police by the current chief commander, which would constitute incompatibility and lack of suitability for the position, making it necessary to conclude his appointment.”

Bárcena investigated for the attack 

On January 22, the Public Ministry announced that it had initiated an investigation into Bárcena for assaulting President Boluarte. 

The widow has been accused of committing the crime of violence against authority.

Bárcena appeared at the Public Ministry headquarters in Huamanga, Ayacucho on Monday and left the location without answering journalists’ questions.

The President of the Judicial Branch, Javier Arévalo, told the press that it is unacceptable for any public official to be assaulted. 

“It seems that there is a culture of lack of respect for authority, and that leads to a moment where even the highest authorities are attacked. In any case, the Judiciary will be prepared for whatever the Public Ministry decides,” he said.