Peru closes Machu Picchu due to protests
Peru's Ministry of Culture announces the closure of Machu Picchu in light of protests against President Dina Boluarte after the ousting of her predecessor leftist president.
Peru closed on Saturday the country's famed tourist attraction site, Machu Picchu, amid ongoing protests against the government, the Ministry of Culture said on Saturday after tourists were left stranded near the Inca citadel in light of the unrest brought upon by a coup d'etat.
Demonstrations demanding the resignation of Peruvian President Dina Boluarte have been ongoing since early December, leaving 54 people dead and prompting the government to impose a state of emergency in violence-hit areas.
The government extended by 30 days a state of emergency from midnight Saturday for Lima, Cusco, Callao, and Puno, authorizing the military to back up police actions to "restore public order." It suspended constitutional rights such as freedom of movement and assembly, according to a decree published in the official gazette.
In Puno, the government declared a night curfew for ten days, from 8:00 pm to 4:00 am. On his part, Peruvian Prime Minister Alberto Otarola called on protesters to "radically change" their tactics and opt for dialogue.
Ahead of the closure of the tourist attraction site, rail services to Machu Picchu had already been suspended due to the track being damaged by demonstrators.
"The closure of the Inca trails network and the Machu Picchu citadel has been ordered due to the social situation and to preserve the safety of visitors," the Ministry of Culture said in its Saturday statement.
Tourists "cannot leave because the railway has been damaged in different places," Tourism Minister Luis Fernando Helguero said on Friday. "Some tourists have chosen to walk to Piscacucho, but that takes six hours or more and very few people can do it."
Protesters are trying to keep up pressure on the Peruvian government, defying the ongoing state of emergency.
After demands for her resignation, Boluarte said she would not resign after another day of protests and roadblocks across the country, as well as the arrest of a trade union leader with alleged ties to Maoist rebels.
“Some voices coming from the violent and radical groups demand my resignation, bringing people to chaos, disorder, and destruction. I say to them responsibly that I will not step down,” Boluarte said while speaking to the nation in a late-night broadcast on state TV on January 14.
The South American country has been rocked by more than a month of protests, mostly in the southern and eastern areas, since the ouster and arrest of Boluarte's left-wing predecessor Pedro Castillo on December 7 after attempting to dissolve the nation's legislature and rule by decree.
At least 54 people got killed during clashes with security forces, including a police officer who was burned alive in a vehicle, and hundreds more got injured.