Peru closes Machu Picchu site as anti-govt protests continue | Protests News

Peru closes Machu Picchu site as anti-govt protests continue | Protests News

The European Union laments the “disproportionate” police response to the deadly riots as the protesters’ death toll rises to 45.

Peru has closed its famous Machu Picchu historic site amid ongoing anti-government protests, as the European Union called the police response to the deadly unrest “disproportionate”.

“The closure of the Inca Trail network and the citadel of Machu Picchu has been ordered due to the social situation and to ensure the safety of visitors,” the culture ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

The closure of the Inca citadel came as officials announced that another protester had been killed, bringing the total death toll to 45 protesters and one police officer since protesters took to the streets in early December and the resignation of Peru’s newly appointed president Dina Boluarte demanded.

In the past few days, demonstrators have repeatedly taken to the streets against the declaration of a state of emergency in regions plagued by violence.

The EU condemned the government’s response to the unrest, saying police used “disproportionate force” against protesters.

“The EU calls on the government and all political actors to take urgent steps to restore calm and ensure an inclusive dialogue involving civil society and affected communities as a way out of the crisis,” the 27-strong bloc said in a statement .

“The ongoing social and political crises should be addressed with full respect for the constitutional order, the rule of law and human rights,” she added.

The weeks of unrest followed a failed attempt in December by former President Pedro Castillo to dissolve Congress and rule by decree, in what the Constitutional Court condemned as a “coup d’état”.

After Castillo’s ouster and subsequent arrest, then-Vice President Boluarte rose to the presidency, becoming the sixth person to hold the role in five years.

The fast-paced series of events sparked outrage from supporters of Castillo, whose unlikely rise from an elementary school teacher and son of illiterate farmers to the country’s president has made him a folk icon among many low-income Peruvians. Experts say a long history of exclusion in the country has provided fertile ground for the demonstrations.

Closure of Machu Picchu

Before Saturday’s closure of Machu Picchu – the most iconic remaining ruins of the 15th-century Inca Empire – rail services to the site had already been suspended after the tracks were damaged by protesters.

The suspension left 400 people, including 300 foreigners, stranded in the town of Aguas Calientes on the edge of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, some of whom asked to be evacuated.

“We don’t know if a train will pick us up. All tourists here are queuing to register for evacuation,” Chilean tourist Alem Lopez told AFP on Friday.

Meanwhile, Tourism Minister Luis Fernando Helguero said some tourists had decided to walk to Piscacucho, the closest road-connected town to Machu Picchu.

He added that the journey “takes six hours or more and very few people make it.”

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