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Violent protests shut down Peru, leave tourists stranded

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Members of the Police face demonstrators during a protest in the vicinity of the airport in the city of Arequipa, Peru on Monday. Photo by Jose Sotomayor/EPA-EFE
Dec. 18 (UPI) — Protesters have shut down critical travel in Peru in a continuation of violent protests over the ouster of former President Pedro Castillo. About 300 tourists are stranded at Machu Picchu after protesters placed large boulders on the train tracks coming into the historic Incan site in the Andes Mountains. Train travel is the chief mode of transportation into Machu Picchu. Advertisement
The government declared a state of emergency to activate aid from Peru’s military and national guard.
South Americans, Americans, Europeans and local tourists are among those looking for a way out of Machu Picchu.
RELATED Death toll rises to 22 in Peru amid growing political protests
The U.S. Embassy in Peru issued an advisory following the impeachment and detention of Castillo on Wednesday, warning that demonstrations would greatly hinder mobility within the country. Four of Peru’s major airports temporarily suspended travel. Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport in Cusco resumed travel after a temporary shutdown, according to Peru’s Ministry of Transportation and Communication.
“Affected travelers are advised to shelter in place until safe transportation becomes available. Roadblocks continue to impede traffic on major roads across Peru,” the embassy posted. “Do not attempt to interfere with or remove roadblocks.”
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Machu Picchu’s local economy is solely reliant on tourism, according to Machupicchu District Mayor Darwin Baca. The district is already dealing with a food shortage because of the protests.
RELATED Former Peru President Pedro Castillo jailed for 18 months in pretrial detention
More than 20 people have been killed in the protests. Two demonstrators were killed Friday in a clash with law enforcement. The Peruvian military killed at least eight people by gunfire when demonstrators attempted to overrun an airport runway. About 70 people were injured.
The U.S. Embassy urges tourists to avoid crowds and demonstrations, pay attention to local media for updates and follow instructions from law enforcement and other authorities.
Peru’s President Dina Boluarte urged Congress to approve moving the next election closer in an attempt to quell the outrage from protesters. The demands from protesters have included the replacement of all government officials, including Boluarte.
RELATED Seven dead as Peruvians protest ouster of former president Castillo
Boluarte has refused calls to resign, but two ministers did submit their resignations in recent days. Education minister Patricia Correa and culture minister Jair Perez posted their resignation letters on Twitter, with Correa condemning state perpetrated violence.
“The death of compatriots has no justification. State violence cannot be disproportionate and cause death. #NoMasMuerte,” she tweeted.

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