Access to Machu Picchu suspended due to unrest in Peru

(CNN) — Tourist access to Machu Picchu Citadel and the Inca Trail Network has been suspended until further notice due to ongoing unrest in Peru, officials in the country said Saturday.

The Decentralized Culture Directorate and the Machu Picchu Historical Sanctuary Directorate said in a statement the day before that tourists who have tickets for Jan. 21 or later can claim refunds up to a month after the protests end.

Earlier this week, protests in Peru continued across the country, leaving at least 30 injured. At least two police officers were injured and 11 people were arrested as protests turned violent in the southern city of Puno on Friday. A police station in Puno was set on fire. Interior Minister Vicente Romero said protesters attacked police stations, government buildings and private businesses across the country on Friday.
Peru is facing the worst political violence in decades. Demonstrators want new elections, the resignation of Boluarte, an amendment to the constitution and the release of Castillo, who is currently in pre-trial detention. At the heart of the crisis are demands for better living conditions that have gone unmet in the two decades since democratic rule was restored to the country.
The Inca citadel of Machu Picchu can be seen in Cusco, Peru, in this Dec. 2, 2014 file photo.

The Inca citadel of Machu Picchu can be seen in Cusco, Peru, in this Dec. 2, 2014 file photo.

Enrique Castro-Mendivil/Reuters

According to Andina, parts of the Urubamba-Ollantaytambo-Machu Picchu railway line were damaged during the anti-government protests on Thursday, forcing train services to be suspended until further notice. The discontinued train service left 417 people – including 300 foreigners – stranded in the Machu Picchu district.

At least 300 of those tourists are foreigners, according to Luis Helguero, Peru’s foreign trade and tourism minister.

“People are still trapped in Machu Picchu,” Helguero said. “417 tourists cannot leave the city, more than 300 are foreigners.”

Helguero said authorities are evaluating and repairing the damage so the tourists can be evacuated. Some tourists evacuated on foot, but the journey, Helguero said, took at least six to seven hours.

PeruRail said Thursday it was suspending its services to and from Machu Picchu, among other destinations, because tracks were blocked and damaged in several places.

“We regret any inconvenience this is causing our passengers due to a situation beyond the company’s control due to the protests in Cusco,” the statement said.

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