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Machu Picchu, Peru.
Machu Picchu is one of the 7 Wonders of the World. Photo: Pixabay.

Crisis in Peru: Machu Picchu closes as tourists are trapped

Anti-government protests in Peru have forced the closure of train stations, airports, and other means of transport.

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Amid the anti-government demonstrations that have lasted more than a month in Peru and push for an ouster of President Dina Boluarte and the dissolution of Congress to advance new elections, a new measure was taken on Saturday, Jan. 21 to close Machu Picchu, according to  Minister of Tourism, Luis Fernando Helguero. As a result, more than 400 travelers remain in the area without being able to leave.

According to the AP, Helguero said that the closure of the ruins of Machu Picchu happened to protect the safety of tourists and the population in general, but it was also a measure forced by the temporary closure of a nearby train station, which reported damages on the railways, and also due to obstructions on the highways and the indefinite suspension of flights and other public transport services.

A country suspended

The official closure of one of the most visited tourist destinations in all of Latin America occurred on the same day that the police carried out an operation with a small tank and arrested more than 100 people who were staying at the facilities of the Universidad Nacional de San Marcos — the most important public educational institution in Lima, and which, according to the authorities, participated in large demonstrations.

Some of the biggest confrontations between protestors and the governor have occurred in Cusco, where Machu Picchu is located, and a city where protesters forced an almost general blockade of transport services.

Peru's Ministry of Culture assured that tourists who  purchased tickets to Machu Picchu from Saturday, Jan. 21 until a month after the protests end will be able to get a full refund.

The protests, which were initially concentrated in the capital and in southern Peru, have already left more than 55 people dead and there does not seem to be a point of consensus between the protesters and the Boluarte administration at the moment.

No yield on both sides

After the police assault operation on the university campus, hundreds of protesters went to their offices where they chanted “Freedom” and “We are students, not terrorists,” while demanding the release of detainees.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights expressed its concern about the police incursion and the massive arrests, while asking Peru to guarantee due process for all people.

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