Pax Global Media
The ancient ruins of Machu Picchu have been closed as anti-government protests that began last month escalate in Peru.
Machu Picchu, a 15th-century Inca citadel located in the Eastern Cordillera of southern Peru on a high mountain ridge, is Peru’s most famous tourist attraction, which attracts up to 2,500 tourists a day and more than a million annually.
Peru’s Culture Ministry has closed the historic site, as well as the Inca Trail that leads there “to protect the safety of tourists and the population in general,” as USA Today reports.
Last month, there were 417 visitors stuck at Machu Picchu – drawn to the Incan citadel dates to the 15th century – and unable to get out, with more than 300 of them being foreigners, Peru’s Tourism Minister Luis Fernando Helguero said at a news conference.
Protesters have arrived into Lima, with many of them travelling to the capital from remote Andean regions, to call for the resignation of President Dina Boluarte, reports say.
Until recently, the protests were contained in the country’s south. The demonstrations began last month after then-President Pedro Castillo, Peru’s first leader with a rural Andean background, was impeached and imprisoned for trying to dissolve Congress.
Meanwhile, tourism in the region is taking a hit. Cusco, where Machu Picchu is located, is where intense clashes have taken place, leading to losses of local tourism revenue.
Cusco airport was also briefly shut down this week after protesters attempted to storm it, reports say.
Trains to Machu Picchu have also been closed since Thursday due to damage to the tracks, USA Today reports, and some tourists have decided to leave by walking to Piscacucho, a village that’s more than six hours walking-distance away.
Peru’s Culture Ministry said people who already bought tickets for Machu Picchu from last Saturday until one month after – whenever the protests end – will be refunded.
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