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Breaking News

Anti-Fujimori Protesters Call for New Elections; Set Fire to Government Buildings in Lima, Peru

Aired July 28, 2000 - 2:38 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: And now more on another political process unfolding not so peacefully. In Lima, Peru at this hour, where anti-presidential protesters are setting fire to government buildings.

Our correspondent, CNN's Harris Whitbeck is there. What are you seeing, Harris?

HARRIS WHITBECK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, we are still here in front of the Presidential Palace in downtown Lima, where a small fire that had been set by protesters at the main gate to the palace has been contained.

Let me step out and show you. There are more people showing up here, however, different student groups, trade unions, who had been protesting President Fujimori's swearing in for days now, are now congregating here at the public plaza.

We haven't seen in the last few minutes anymore incidents with tear gas. Right now, the police seem to be keeping a low profile. But, as protesters get too close to the palace, they will fire off a tear gas canister every now and then or use a water cannon to try to disperse these protesters.

President Fujimori, we saw him enter in the palace about 45 minutes ago, after he took office in an unprecedented third term as president of this country. He won that mandate in an election that was hotly contested by members of the opposition here and also by many international observers who said that the process was flawed -- Lou.

WATERS: Harris, we understand that opposition members of the government walked out on that swearing in ceremony, one of them with a gas mask, we've been told. Do you know anything about that?

WHITBECK: That's right, Lou, there were several opposition members of Congress, who started yelling and calling President Fujimori names, as he walked into the Congress to take oath. And then before he started speaking, giving his inaugural address, they walked out as a sign of protest.

That had been a planned event. We had been told that that was going to happen this morning. And there have been lots of acts like that, acts of different sectors of Peruvian society who oppose President Fujimori have been using to symbolize that opposition.

WATERS: What do you make of this demonstration? Was that also a planned event. We noticed in the early, there were very few protesters outside. And in the last few minutes, the crowd is building, and appears to be building even more?

WHITBECK: That right. There have been sporadic protests throughout the morning at different government buildings. Now everybody seems to be congregating here. The opposition had organized what they call the "March of the Four Corners." They had organized it yesterday, and that march, which was official, if you will, was scheduled to finish today.

However, we still see many contingents of people who participated in that march congregating here in Lima, and there is a group, I don't know if you can see this in the shot, but there is one gentlemen using a megaphone, who seems to be telling people to calm down. And they are responding negatively.

They are saying that people united will never be defeated, the classic opposition chanted in many Latin-American countries. And I see more and more people showing up here. I don't know how long this could last, Lou?

WATERS: We are seeing smoke, Harris. Is that spoke from the fires? or has tear gas actually been used to break up this crowd?

WHITBECK: Yes, tear gas has been used, but the smoke you are seeing now is what is left over of that small fire that was set at the gate at the palace. And right below where we are set up, people have set fire to a tire. So, that's -- that's what you are seeing. No tear gas canisters have been fired in the last few minutes.

WATERS: What do these demonstrators want to happen?

WHITBECK: They want President Fujimori to resign, and they want new elections. That's as clear-cut as that.

WATERS: Simple as that. And they continue on in Lima, Peru. Harris Whitbeck is down there keeping watch. We will check in from time to time.

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