Tourists stranded in Machu Picchu amid Peru protests

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(CNN) — About 300 tourists from around the world are stranded in the ancient city of Machu Picchu after Peru declared a state of emergency as the president stepped down, according to the mayor.

Former President Pedro Castillo was impeached and subsequently arrested in early December after announcing plans to dissolve Congress. The unrest sparked by his arrest has prompted an international warning against travel to Peru.

Machu Picchu Mayor Darwin Baca said Peruvians, South Americans, Americans and Europeans were among the stranded tourists.

“We have asked the government to help us and set up helicopter flights to evacuate tourists,” Baca said. The only way to get in and out of the town is by train, and those services have been suspended until further notice, he said.

Trains to and from Machu Picchu, the main way to travel to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, were suspended on Tuesday, according to a statement from PeruRail, Peru’s rail operator in the southern and southeastern regions of the country.

“Peru Railways said they were still reviewing the situation,” Baca explained.

A State Department spokesman told CNN on Friday that the United States is in contact with U.S. citizens stranded in Peru.

“We are providing all appropriate consular assistance and are monitoring developments closely. Due to privacy and security concerns, we will not further detail the number of U.S. citizens who have reached out,” the spokesperson added.

The U.S. embassy in Peru said in a statement earlier Friday that the Peruvian government was organizing the evacuation of foreigners from Aguas Calientes, the town that serves as the main entrance to Machu Picchu.

“Once the assistance plan is confirmed, we will issue a message with instructions. Travelers in the village of Aguas Calientes/Machu Picchu, whether they choose to remain where they are and seek assistance to Cusco, or anyone who may choose to walk Traveling travelers,” the statement added.

Food shortages in Machu Picchu

Mayor Baca also warned that Machu Picchu is already experiencing food shortages due to the protests and that the local economy is 100% dependent on tourism.

Baca called on the government headed by the new President Boluarte to establish a dialogue with the local people to end the social unrest as soon as possible.

Peruvian Railways said it would assist affected passengers to change travel dates.

“We regret the inconvenience these announcements have caused our passengers; however, they are due to circumstances beyond our company’s control and seek to prioritize the safety of our passengers and staff,” the company said in a statement. “

Tourists stranded elsewhere in Peru

Passengers wait outside Cusco's airport, which was closed due to protests, on Friday.

Passengers wait outside Cusco’s airport, which was closed due to protests, on Friday.

Paul Gambin/Reuters

LATAM Peruvian airline said it was flying between Alfredo Rodriguez Ballon International Airport in Arequipa and Alejandro Vela in Cusco, 75 kilometers (47 miles) from Machu Picchu. Operations at Sko Astete International Airport have been suspended.

“LATAM is constantly monitoring the political situation in Peru to provide relevant information based on the impact it may have on our aviation operations,” the airline said in a statement.

“We await the response from the relevant authorities who must take corrective measures to ensure the safe development of air operations.”

It added: “We regret the inconvenience to our passengers caused by this situation beyond our control, and we reinforce our commitment to aviation safety and connectivity in this country.”


Demonstrators clashed with police during a protest in Lima on Thursday.

Demonstrators clashed with police during a protest in Lima on Thursday.

Sebastian Castaneda/Reuters

The U.S. State Department has issued a travel advisory to citizens traveling in Peru, listing it as a Level 3 “reconsider travel” destination.

“Demonstrations can result in the closure of local roads, trains and major highways, often without prior notice or estimated timetable for reopening.

“Road closures could significantly reduce public transport and airport use, and could disrupt travel within and between cities,” it warned.

The US State Department requires travelers to Peru to sign up for US Embassy STEP alerts if they have not already done so.

The UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office has also issued a warning to its citizens about the situation.

The FCDO said on its website on Friday night: “British nationals should take special care to avoid protests in all areas. If possible, you should remain in a safe place. … You should plan ahead for any serious disruption to your plans. “

It also told travelers arriving in the capital, Lima, that travel to and from many areas – including Cusco and Arequipa – was unavailable and more disruptions were likely.

British nationals were also warned to respect the curfew imposed in Peru and to monitor local news and social media for more information.

Global Affairs Canada warned its citizens to “exercise an extreme level of caution” in Peru and to avoid non-essential travel in many areas. Canada’s “Global News” interviewed a Canadian who was trapped in the small town of Ica in southern Peru. He said that he is now away from civil unrest, but he was robbed in a taxi.

Travelers run out of medicines

American tourist Kathryn Martucci told CNN about her experience being stranded in Machu Picchu, Peru.

American tourist Kathryn Martucci told CNN about her experience being stranded in Machu Picchu, Peru.

by Kathryn Martucci

An American tourist stranded in Machu Picchu told CNN she ran out of medication and was unsure when she would be able to leave the town and get more.

Kathryn Martucci, a 71-year-old Florida resident, was traveling with 13 other Americans when Peru declared a state of emergency, she said.

According to Martucci, her tour group was unable to grab the last train out of town before the railroad shut down.

Her son Michael Martucci, who lives in the US, also spoke to CNN and has been trying to help his mother find a way out.

“They’ve been there since Monday, and now she and everyone else around her is running out of the medication they need,” Martucci said. “There is nothing in the town where they are trapped. Thankfully they are safe and have food, but no way to get more medicine.”

Martucci said her group was planning to stay in Machu Picchu for two days, so they were told to pack light and take only two days’ worth of medication.

On Friday morning, Martucci said her tour guide took her group to city hall for a medical evaluation, hoping that local officials would understand their condition and help them find a way out.

“There were about 100 tourists in line and we waited two hours to see a doctor,” Martucci said. “They told me that I was a priority and they would try to get me out of Machu Picchu by helicopter within the next two days.”

However, Martucci wasn’t sure if that would happen, she told CNN.

“Several people needed help, a helicopter can only carry 10 people, we don’t know what’s going on.”

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