Hundreds of tourists were left stranded for hours overnight at the foot of Peru’s Machu Picchu as the country’s government closed the heritage site due to ongoing anti-government protests. The move was made in order “to protect tourists and citizens” in an official statement from the office of beleaguered new President, Dina Boluarte.
A total of 148 tourists and 240 Peruvians found themselves stuck at the foot of the Inca citadel, Peru’s tourism ministry announced, but everyone was eventually evacuated from the area on trains and buses - despite several railway lines being damaged during the protests on Thursday leading to many suspended services.
This is the second occasion that anti-government protests have affected the tourist destination, after authorities airlifted vulnerable stranded tourists from the site in December 2022 due to protests in response to the impeachment of then-President Pedro Castillo. It was the impeachment that led to elections in the South American country being brought forward, leading to renewed protests regarding the election process.
In a statement, Peru’s culture ministry said that those who had already bought tickets for the site would be able to use them for one month after the end of the demonstrations or get a refund.
The protestors are looking for newly elected President Dina Boularte to step down from the role, with many wishing her left-wing predecessor, Pedro Castillo, to be released from jail. Castillo faces charges of rebellion and conspiracy, but denies the accusations and insists he is still Peru’s legitimate leader despite the impeachment.
The protests have currently left dozens dead and 58 people injured, with the European Union condemning the widespread violence and what it called the "disproportionate" use of force by the police. For her part, Boluarte earlier this week urged Peruvians to ensure their protests were peaceful despite many, including local governments, asking her to secede from the position.