“They were shooting in the face”: the story of a Peruvian journalist wounded in the protests

One of the first tasks of the Peruvian government will be to purge responsibility for the brutal police repression of the street demonstrations that shook Lima last week. The new President, Francisco Sagasti, has apologized to the Peruvian people in the name of the State, but the police force is completely silent.

José Miguel Hidalgo, from América Televisión, is one of the journalists who were injured while doing their work. What he tells us happened on Thursday, November 12:

“The police have an order, it is a protocol in Peru, when they launch tear gas bombs with weapons, they are thrown at approximately 45 degrees so that the tear gas bomb travels a distance and can withdraw the mass that is protesting. But it was striking that The police pointed at the feet of those of us on the front line (journalists) and fired the tear gas canisters. I was no more than a meter or meter and a half from a policeman. They fired the tear gas canister and hit me directly in the ankle, generating a large hematoma, “explains Hidalgo.

Despite the pain, José Miguel Hidalgo continued working. But not an hour had passed, when he and his companions were attacked again:

“The police began to take out what are called the ‘shotguns’, the ones who go ahead with shotguns that shoot pellets. At that point we were only journalists, and they began to shoot pellets at us, not even tear gas. The pellets have only one intention, to hit. on people’s bodies to be able to repress them. But they were no more than five meters away and they started shooting. They pulled the trigger and at one point they hit my cameraman. My cameraman, for people who know a little, when there is a protest, he carries the camera on his shoulder, (when holding the camera) the hand is at the level of the neck or face. He received two shots of pellets in the forearm while he had the camera raised, that is, they were shooting not only at the body, they were shooting at the face “, concludes the journalist.

Two days later, two young men died after being hit by lead shot to the head and chest. In the whole week there were more than a hundred injured. One young man lost an eye, another will never walk again. There were disappearances and detainees who were beaten at the police station. The Police deny that as an institution it endorses these practices or the use of this type of ammunition, but has not promised a thorough investigation of what happened.

While recovering, José Miguel Hidalgo minimizes his injuries by comparing them with those of other colleagues who fared worse. His testimony sheds light on what happened on the darkest nights in recent Peruvian history.