Tensions in Peru: Machu Picchu closed, where tourists are stuck

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Tensions in Peru: closure of Machu Picchu, where tourists are stuck

Police clashed with protesters in Cusco, the closest city to Machu Picchu in Peru, on Thursday.

Peru closed Machu on Saturday Picchu, tourist jewel and main attraction of this country shaken since December by demonstrations which have left 46 dead, while the situation remains tense in Lima.

The authorities have declared a state of emergency in several regions including Lima and Cuzco, the country's tourist capital, without stemming the protest movement.

Closing the network of Inca trails [land access, Inca Trail] and the Llaqta [citadel] of Machu Picchu has been ordered due to the social situation and to preserve the safety of visitors, the Ministry of Culture said in a press release.

The railway, the only way to get to the site – apart from the march – has been cut for several days, the track having been damaged by protesters. According to the company that operates it, rails were removed by the protesters.

At least 400 tourists – including 300 foreigners – are stranded at the foot of the site, in Aguas Calientes .

We don't know if a train will pick us up. All tourists here are lining up to register for evacuation, Chilean tourist Alem Lopez told Agence France-Presse (AFP) on Friday.

Tourists cannot go out because the railway has been damaged in different places, Tourism Minister Luis Fernando Helguero said on Friday evening.

Some tourists have chosen to walk to Piscacucho, but it is a walk of six hours or more and very few people can do it.

Piscacucho is the closer to Machu Picchu connected to the road network.

In December, tourists evacuated by train from Machu Picchu had to walk part of the way, after demonstrators had blocked the road.

In December, tourists were also stranded in Machu Picchu before being evacuated by a special train supervised by law enforcement and railway crews to repair the track.

Tourism represents between 3 and 4% of Peru's GDP and provides employment to all strata of the economy.

A protester died on Saturday of his injuries after clashes between police and demonstrators in Ilave, southern Peru, on Friday, the local People's Advocate said.

This brings the death toll to 46 since December 7 and the start of protests demanding the resignation of President Dina Boluarte, the dissolution of Parliament and a Constituent Assembly.

The unrest has began after the dismissal and arrest of left-wing President Pedro Castillo, accused of having attempted a coup d'etat by wanting to dissolve the Parliament which was preparing to oust him from power.

Pedro Castillo, during his investiture speech to parliament in Lima in 2021

In Lima, the day after two days of mobilization, with the arrival in the capital of demonstrators from the poor Andean regions, the situation remained tense.

Security forces with an armored vehicle shot down the gate of the University of San Marcos to expel the provincial protesters who had been sleeping there for several days.

The police present in large numbers searched the occupants, sometimes forcing them to lie on the ground in front of the university, AFP journalists noted.

De many demonstrators were taken away by the police, without their destination being known.

I have relatives who are there. I'm worried. We don't know what can happen. I do not know what they are accused of, said Luz Maria Ramirez, 62, who came from Andahuaylsas, the epicenter of the demonstrations in December.

Lawyers, but also prosecutors, are went there to verify the legality of police operations and guarantee people's rights, according to a press release from the prosecution.

Thousands of people, mostly Andean peasants, converged on the last week and at the beginning of the week towards Lima for a large rally which took place on Thursday.

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