WAround 5,000 tourists have been stranded in the city of Cusco in the south of the country as a result of the violent protests in Peru. Tourists were waiting in their hotels for air traffic to resume, Darwin Baca, mayor of the neighboring district of Machu Picchu, told AFP on Friday.
In Peru there have been protests for days against the dismissal and arrest of President Pedro Castillo and his successor at the head of state, Dina Boluarte.
Cusco’s Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport has been closed since Monday after protesters tried to storm it, said Mayor Baca, who is also stuck in Cusco. Roads were therefore closed, trains stood still. Cusco, the former capital of the Inca Empire, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Peru. The city is also the starting point for trips to the world-famous Inca ruins of Machu Picchu, which are about 80 kilometers away.
Five closed airport
Authorities announced on Thursday that around 800 foreign tourists were stuck at Machu Picchu because the railway line between the World Heritage Site and Cusco was closed. Around 200 of them, mostly Europeans and US citizens, made their way to the town of Ollantaytambo, 30 kilometers away, on foot, where buses were waiting for them. A total of five airports were closed in the south of the country: Andahuaylas, Arequipa, Puno, Ayacucho and Cusco.
According to the Ministry of Health, at least 18 people died in the protests in the Andean country that had been going on since Wednesday. “I regret the tragic events that have taken the lives of several people in different parts of the country, this must stop,” President Boluarte said in Lima.
Slingshots and gunfire into the crowd
In Ayacucho there were “eight dead in one day (…) in clashes with the army,” Human Rights Ombudsman Eliana Revollar told AFP. On Thursday, demonstrators tried to take Ayacucho airport but were prevented from doing so by the army.
The protesters at Ayacucho airport surrounded the soldiers and had slingshots with them, Revollar said. The security forces then received the order to shoot in the air. However, there were also shots fired at the crowd, the ombudswoman explained and called for an investigation.
The government on Wednesday declared a state of emergency across the country and proposed bringing forward the elections from 2026 to 2023 to accommodate the protesters. However, a bill on early elections did not receive the required majority in the Peruvian parliament on Friday.
The left-leaning ex-President Castillo was elected head of state in July 2021 as a political outsider. Since then, the 53-year-old has been in a constant power struggle with the conservative-dominated Congress, which finally ousted him last week.
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