Protests in Peru becoming more violent

January 23, 2023 3:20 pm

[Source: RNZ]

A Kiwi living in Peru says protests that are causing havoc across the country are becoming increasingly violent.

Protesters made driving in the city during the week impossible, Garth Warner said, and there was a risk they would smash windows of vehicles that tried.

Despite Peru having to temporarily close its famous tourist site Machu Picchu over the ongoing protests against the country’s new president, Flight Centre was still offering return flight holiday packages to the tourist destination.

Article continues after advertisement

Since the dismissal of former President Pedro Castillo, who was detained after illegally trying to dissolve congress, violent protests have erupted around Peru.

The government said it closed its country’s most famous tourist attraction, and the Inca trail hike leading up to it, to protect tourists and citizens.

Rail services to Machu Picchu were suspended on Thursday after some train tracks were damaged, allegedly by protesters.

It left 418 people stranded at the site, tourism minister Luis Fernando Helguero said at a news conference on Saturday.

However, by Saturday night, the tourism ministry announced that everyone – 148 foreigners and 270 Peruvians – had been safely evacuated on trains and buses.

They were not the first visitors to have been stranded at Machu Picchu because of civil unrest. Just last month, hundreds of tourists were airlifted out after being stuck there for several days.

Situated high on the Andes Mountain, Machu Picchu was considered one of the new seven wonders of the world.

The violent protests, which have seen dozens of people killed, began when Peru’s previous leader was ousted.

And they were only becoming more violent, Warner said.

Warner said protesters blocked roads with rocks and trees, burning rubbish in the middle of the road.

Despite Machu Picchu temporarily closing, he said it could still be accessed.

Flight Centre, which was still offering holiday packages to Machu Picchu, said there had been limited impact on customers.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) said it was assisting Kiwis who had been caught up in Peru’s protests, with many tourists stranded near Machu Picchu evacuated over the weekend.

An MFAT spokesperson said the New Zealand Embassy in Chile, which was accredited to Peru, had been working with “several groups” of New Zealanders affected by the disruptions.

There were currently 46 Kiwis registered on SafeTravel as being in Peru.

At least 58 Peruvians have been injured in the protests, according to a report from Peru’s ombudsman.

Roads were blocked and police fired tear gas at stone-throwing demonstrators in the capital, Lima.

The European Union has condemned the widespread violence and what it called the “disproportionate” use of force by the police.

In a statement, it called for “urgent steps to restore calm”.