Hundreds of tourists remain stranded in a Peruvian town near the ruins of Machu Picchu following nationwide protests against the president.
Due to the government’s indefinite suspension of train service, Americans, Europeans, and South Americans cannot leave Aguas Calientas, near Machu Picchu. Axios reports that Darwin Baca is trying to arrange helicopter transportation to get them out of Machu Picchu.
“Our government has offered to help us arrange helicopter flights for tourists to be evacuated,” Baca said.
Among the tourists trapped on the mountain are two Chicago police officers, a pregnant couple from Acworth, Georgia, and a Miami-Dade Fire Rescue captain, who told Local 10 news that about 200 Americans are left behind. Protests prevent thousands from traveling across the country.
Fire Rescue Captain Brian Vega said the rest of the country is having a difficult time. “People are rioting, burning things down.”
Following a renewed attempt to remove him from office, Peruvian President Pedro Castillo dissolved the country’s Congress on Wednesday and called for new elections. Besides establishing an emergency government, he said that he would change the leadership of the judiciary, police, and constitutional court.
Six investigations were launched against Castillo as a result of corruption allegations.
As a result of Castillo’s actions, the Congress ousted him and replaced him with Dina Boluarte, his former vice president. As many voters saw Castillo as “one of us,” Boluarte remained distant and unknown to them, the appointment proved highly unpopular.
Boluarte dispatched authorities to crackdown on protests, but that only caused violence to spike, killing at least seven people on Thursday night and injuring more than 50 others. While prosecutors prepare a case against Castillo, a judge ordered him to be imprisoned for 18 months.
In recent weeks, protesters have burned police stations, blocked highways, and taken over airport runways to demand Castillo’s freedom, Boluarte’s resignation, and new elections.
Over 22 people have been killed in Friday’s protests, after Boluarte declared a state of emergency to quell the unrest.
Peruvian citizens were killed by the government, and two ministers resigned over the deaths. The outgoing Education Minister Patricia Correa said the deaths “had no justification.”
Local authorities cannot tell Vega whether they can evacuate tourists by Christmas because of the unrest. He appealed to U.S. lawmakers to investigate airlift possibilities.
“We hope they will help us out somehow and get us back home to see our friends and family,” he said.
Machu Picchu’s mayor told AFP that 5,000 tourists are stranded in Cusco awaiting the resumption of flights.
“A lot of them are worried that if they get to Cusco they won’t be able to return home,” the mayor said.