Hundreds of tourists stranded in Machu Picchu amid Peru protests
(CNN) — About 300 tourists from around the world have been left stranded in the ancient city of Machu Picchu, according to the mayor, after Peru was plunged into a state of emergency following the ousting of the country’s president.
Former President Pedro Castillo was impeached and subsequently arrested in early December after announcing his plan to dissolve Congress. The unrest sparked by his arrest has prompted international warnings about travel to Peru.
Darwin Baca, Machu Picchu’s mayor, said that Peruvians, South Americans, Americans and Europeans are among the stranded travelers..
“We have asked the government to help us and establish helicopter flights in order to evacuate the tourists,” Baca said. The only way to get in and out of the town is by train, and these services are suspended until further notice, he said.
Trains to and from Machu Picchu, the primary means of accessing UNESCO World Heritage Site, were halted on Tuesday, according to a statement from PeruRail, Peru’s railway operator in the south and southeast regions of the country.
“PeruRail said they are still reviewing the situation,” Baca explained.
The mayor also warned that Machu Picchu is already suffering from food shortages due to the protests, and the local economy relies 100% on tourism.
Baca called on the government, led by new president Dina Boluarte, to establish a dialogue with the local population to put an end to the social unrest as soon as possible.
PeruRail has said it would assist affected passengers in changing the dates of their travel.
“We regret the inconvenience that these announcements generate for our passengers; however, they are due to situations beyond the control of our company and seek to prioritize the safety of passengers and workers,” the company said in a statement.
Tourists stranded elsewhere in Peru
LATAM Airlines Peru said operations to and from Alfredo Rodríguez Ballón International Airport in Arequipa and the Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport in Cuzco, 75 kilometers (47 miles) from Machu Picchu, had been temporarily suspended.
“LATAM maintains constant monitoring of the political situation in Peru to provide the pertinent information according to how it may impact our air operation,” the airline said in statement. “We await the response of the relevant authorities, who must take corrective measures to ensure safety for the development of air operations.”
It added: “We regret the inconvenience that this situation beyond our control has caused our passengers and we reinforce our commitment to air safety and connectivity in the country.”
The US State Department has issued a travel advisory for citizens traveling in Peru, which it has listed as a level three “reconsider travel” destination.
“Demonstrations can cause the shutdown of local roads, trains, and major highways, often without prior notice or estimated reopening timelines. Road closures may significantly reduce access to public transportation and airports and may disrupt travel both within and between cities,” it warns.
At least six people have died amid the political demonstrations.
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