‘We’re isolated here’: American tourists stranded in Machu Picchu as violent protests erupt following the ousting and detention of President Pedro Castillo
- A few hundred Americans are stranded in Peru following political unrest that occurred when President Pedro Castillo was detained
- Castillo was arrested after he supposedly attempted to dissolve Congress and rule by decree which led to nationwide protests
- Protestors have halted the operation of railways by placing trees and massive rocks on the tracks
- A 30-day national emergency was declared on Wednesday as Castillo’s supporters turned to ‘acts of vandalism and violence’
- About 20 people have died amid the protests
Americans are stranded in Peru as violent protests erupted following the ousting and arrest of President Pedro Castillo.
About 200 travelers are stuck abroad in Machu Picchu after political unrest caused railroad operations leading to airports to halt in the village.
Castillo was arrested last week after he attempted to ‘dissolve Congress and rule by decree.’ His detainment led officials to declare a 30-day national emergency on Wednesday as his supporters resulted in ‘acts of vandalism and violence.’
Brian Vega, a Miami-Dade fire captain, visited Machu Picchu alone and was unable to leave the village when demonstrators blocked the railroad.
‘We’re isolated,’ Vega told NBC news. ‘The only way in is via train or the other case would be a helicopter.’
At least 20 people have died in Peru amid the protest, despite the emergency declaration forbidding residents from gathering.
A few hundred Americans are stranded in Peru following political unrest that occurred when President Pedro Castillo was detained. Pictured: Miami-Dade, Florida fire chief Brian Vega
Protestors have halted the operation of railways by placing trees and massive rocks on the tracks
Castillo (above) was arrested after he supposedly attempted to dissolve Congress and rule by decree which led to nationwide protests
Major airports in the country, including Arequipa and Cusco, were open on Monday, but the US Embassy in Peru warned that ongoing demonstrations might disrupt routes to the airport and the inability for planes to take off.
Vega suggested that he might walk to the nearest open airport if he is unable to get to one by railway.
Some people may have been able to get out of the village over the weekend after ‘limited’ train service was offered to get tourists close enough to Cusco to walk the rest of the way.
Amy Madden and her tourist group walked 18 miles to a nearby town in hopes of catching a train to an operating airport.
‘We got onto that bus and we hit a roadblock,’ Madden told NBC. ‘And we all got out and the mob of people started coming towards us. One of the men had a stiff, like a weapon, in his hand and they ran straight for the bus driver. We were terrified.’
For those anxious to get out of the area, the embassy announced that a charter flight from Cusco to Lima was available on Monday night with limited seats for $125 per person.
Other commercial flights from Cusco to Lima remain available throughout the week, but it is unclear how many are offered per day.
Amy Madden (third from the left) and her tourist group walked 18-miles to a nearby town in hopes of catching a train to an operating airport
Madden said she witnessed demonstrators take out a weapon and threaten a bus driver that was helping her group get to the airport
Protestors placed large rocks on railways. Workers can be seen above attempting to remove the rock
Soldiers were seen on the streets on Lima on December 18 following the emergency declaration
At least 20 people have died in Peru amid the protest
Tom Gray, a resident of Colorado, was able to take a bus from Machu Picchu to Aguas Calientes with some people from his tourist group over the weekend.
The bus ride was the last one offered and left several Americans stranded in the village as they came across more than a dozen trees and boulders that blocked the road.
‘Our guide had to bribe the protesters to move the rocks to let us go back to our hotel,’ Gray said.
Gray booked his flight to Lima for Tuesday night.
Naala Brewer, an Arizona State University professor, went to Peru amid the civil unrest on December 9 in the belief that the demonstrations wouldn’t be as bad as the news advertised.
Brewer flew into the Cusco airport – which is the closest to Machu Picchu – and started her vacation.
‘Everything seemed fine,’ Brewer told Fox News. ‘We seen a little bit of peaceful protests… nothing major.’
The ASU professor was set to leave the country on December 12 but her flight was canceled after hours of waiting at the airport.
After reaching out to Arizona government officials, Brewer hoped to be home by Sunday night.
Naala Brewer, an Arizona State University professor, went to Peru after Castillo’s arrest in belief the protests wouldn’t be that bad
She attempted to leave the Cusco airport on December 12, but her flight was cancelled. She stayed in the country for about six more days
Meanwhile, a Miami-Dade police officer returned home to Florida on Monday after being stuck in Peru for days.
Sgt. Jessenia Munoz was welcomed home by first responders and family members when she arrived at the Miami International Airport.
Munoz was stuck in a hotel near Cusco amid the political unrest and wasn’t sure when she would be able to go home.
‘It was just frustrating not having an answer, not being able to move, not do anything,’ Munoz told Local 10. ‘I hope that whoever was able to leave was able to leave, but supposedly things are going to start up again.’
Sgt. Jessenia Munoz, a Miami-Dade police officer, returned home after being stranded in Peru
She was welcomed home by first responders and family members when she arrived at the Miami International Airport
Castillo, a leftist elected in 2021, was ousted by lawmakers on December 7 and later arrested.
His vehicle was intercepted as he traveled through Lima’s streets with his security detail. Prosecutors accused him of trying to seek political asylum at Mexico’s embassy.
Since his arrest, Castillo has been detained at the DIROES police facility in Lima.
He called on supporters to come to the jail, saying he should be released after the initial seven-day period of pretrial detention expires.
Castillo has denied charges of rebellion and conspiracy.
The former president also called for the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to intercede on his behalf, as dozens gathered at the prison demanding he is freed.
His position was assumed by then Vice President Dina Boluarte.
Castillo, a leftist elected in 2021, was ousted by lawmakers on December 7
Vice President Dina Boluarte took over the position as president
Defense Minister Alberto Otarola announced the state of emergency due to ‘acts of vandalism and violence’ and road blocks.
The declaration includes the suspension of the rights of ‘personal security and freedom,’ including the rights of assembly and freedom of movement.
Authorities will also be able to search people’s homes without permission or judicial order.
Protesters have blocked streets in Peru’s capital, Lima, and many rural communities, demanding Castillo’s freedom, Boluarte’s resignation and the immediate scheduling of general elections to pick a new president and replace all members of Congress.
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