Tourists evacuated after Peru closes Machu Picchu amid protests | protest news

The European Union slams the police’s ‘disproportionate’ response to the deadly unrest as the death toll of protesters rises to 45.

Peru has closed its famous Machu Picchu historic site amid deadly anti-government protests, stranding hundreds of tourists for hours, as the European Union denounced what it called a “disproportionate” police response to the unrest.

The shutdown on Saturday came as officials announced another protester had been killed, bringing the total death toll to 46 since protesters took to the streets in early December demanding the resignation of newly appointed Peruvian President Dina Boluarte.

The latest death occurred in the southern town of Ilave.

Video footage from Ilave widely shared on social media shows police firing straight at a crowd of indigenous protesters in the town square. Enraged protesters responded by setting fire to a police station, local media reported.

Clashes between police and crowds in the town near Lake Titicaca and the Bolivian border have left ten people injured, hospital officials said.

Amid the unrest, the Ministry of Culture said it ordered the closure of the Inca trail network and Machu Picchu citadel “because of the social situation and to preserve the safety of visitors”.

Prior to Machu Picchu’s closure, train services to the site had already been suspended due to track damage caused by protesters. The only way to reach the popular tourist spot is by train.

At least 400 people, including 300 foreigners, were stranded at the base of the site, in the town of Aguas Calientes, begging to be evacuated.

Rescue teams later evacuated 418 tourists, the tourism ministry said in a Twitter post accompanied by photos of a train and seated travelers.

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

Castillo was impeached and arrested, and his deputy Boluarte rose to the presidency, becoming the sixth person to assume the role in five years.

The quick turn of events drew outrage from supporters of Castillo, whose improbable rise from an elementary school teacher and son of illiterate farmers to the country’s president made him a folk icon among many low-income Peruvians. Experts have said a long history of exclusion in the country has created fertile ground for the demonstrations.

In recent days, protesters have repeatedly taken to the streets against the declaration of a state of emergency in regions stricken by violence.

Police arrested 205 people accused of illegally entering the campus of a major university in Lima.

Alfonso Barrenechea, from the crime prevention division of the prosecutor’s office, told local radio station RPP that the arrests at the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos were made for illegally trespassing on university premises and allegedly stealing electronic goods.

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

“The EU calls on the government and all political actors to take urgent steps to restore calm and ensure an inclusive dialogue with the participation of civil society and affected communities as a way out of the crisis,” it said. counting block in a statement. .

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

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