Peru's Castillo lifts Lima curfew after widespread defiance, anger

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LIMA, April 5 (Reuters) - Peruvian President Pedro Castillo on Tuesday afternoon lifted a curfew order following widespread defiance on the streets, as protests spiraled against rising fuel and fertilizer prices triggered by the Ukraine conflict.

"I must announce that from this moment on we are going to cancel the curfew order," Castillo said in a meeting with Congress. "We now call on the Peruvian people to keep calm."

Castillo issued a sudden curfew mandate minutes before midnight on Monday, ordering Lima residents to stay at home between 2 a.m. and 11:59 p.m. in an attempt to curb nationwide protests over surging prices.

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But the curfew triggered a fresh crisis for the Castillo administration, with thousands of people taking to the street to defy the curfew. He cut the curfew short just after 5 p.m. local time.

The new protests on Tuesday added to a broader crisis that started a week ago in Peru over mounting inflation, which rattled Castillo just days after he survived an impeachment trial.

Western sanctions on Russia have cut supply of oil and fertilizers, hurting fragile emerging economies like Peru. Like many countries, Peru was battling high inflation before the war started, but the conflict has accelerated a surge in the price of food, fuel and other essential items. Peru's March inflation at 1.48% was the highest in 26 years.

Castillo rose to power last year with overwhelming support from Peru's rural population, but rising prices have led that same group to stage the most significant protests so far in his administration.

Castillo's popularity has waned quickly and now hovers at around 25%. He has survived two impeachment attempts and cycled through an unprecedented number of Cabinet members in his eight-month administration.

The lockdown order stunned many Limenos, as residents of the capital are known, who took to the streets to defy what they saw as a violation of their civil liberties.

The government has repeatedly said, without providing evidence, that the curfew was necessary to avoid lootings.

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Reporting by Marcelo Rochabrun; Editing by Alistair Bell, Sandra Maler and Richard Pullin

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