Peru protests: Access to Machu Picchu blocked
The protests against Peruvian President Dina Boluarte show no sign of abating. The Culture Ministry has now closed off access to the ruins of Machu Picchu, the country's most famous tourist attraction.
No way up
Amid renewed heavy clashes between demonstrators and police at countrywide protests against Peru's government, the Culture Ministry has denied access to the famous Inca ruins of Machu Picchu. A statement from the ministry said the move was necessary "given the current social situation in our region."
The ongoing protests in Peru against President Dina Boluarte are increasingly affecting tourism, one of the country's main sources of income. Over the weekend, "418 local and foreign tourists" were evacuated from the area of Machu Picchu due to disrupted rail connections, according to the Tourism Ministry.
Stranded on the streets
Because of the closure of Machu Picchu, more than 400 stranded tourists, 300 of them from abroad, were taken to nearby Cusco, the Peruvian news agency Agencia Andina reported. In view of the bloody unrest, Pope Francis has called for peace and dialogue between the opposing political camps.
Unrest has been simmering for weeks
During protests against the Peruvian government, demonstrators and police have clashed in the capital, Lima. Protesters hurled stones and fireworks at the police, who in turn responded with batons and volleys of tear gas.
A deeply divided country
The protests, the worst the country has seen since the overthrow of autocrat Alberto Fujimori in 2000, show the country's deep division between an urban and economic elite largely concentrated in Lima and the poor rural areas where leftist Pedro Castillo has his power base.
Protesters demand release of ex-president
Thousands of people, including many from remote regions of the country, went to Lima on Thursday under the slogan "Toma de Lima" (Taking Lima). The conflict escalated after elected President Pedro Castillo was removed from office in early December and arrested on charges of attempting a coup. He has been in pre-trial detention since his arrest.
Anger directed at Boluarte
The demonstrators have identified the government of Dina Boluarte as their main opponent, and have loudly called for her resignation. Boluarte, meanwhile, was defiant in a televised speech on Thursday, announcing consequences for those "who want to create chaos and disorder."
Demonstrators want to see Congress dissolved
The demonstrators have demanded the resignation of the head of state, the dissolution of Congress and Castillo's release. At times, the main streets of Lima have been transformed into a pedestrian zone as the massive protests shut down traffic in parts of the capital.
Peru at a turning point?
Demonstrators have repeatedly thrown stones at police barriers, as police responded with tear gas that made most of the demonstrators flee. Pedro Mamani, a student at the National University of San Marcos, told The Associated Press that he sees his country at a "breaking point between dictatorship and democracy."
Police have so far arrested around 200 people in Lima, and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has called on the police to show proportionality. So far, more than 50 people have died, most of them protesters. "This isn't ending today, it won't end tomorrow, but only once we achieve our goals," David Lozada said on the sidelines of the protests in Lima.