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Peru closes tourist destination Machu Picchu as anti-government protests escalate

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Peru indefinitely closed the tourist site Machu Picchu on Saturday in the latest sign of anti-government protests that began last month quickly spreading across the South American country.

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The culture ministry said it had closed the country’s most famous tourist attraction as well as the Inca Trail leading to the site “for the safety of tourists and the population in general”.

There are 417 tourists at Machu Picchu who cannot exit, of whom more than 300 are foreigners, Tourism Minister Luis Fernando Helguero said at a news conference.

The closure of the 15th-century Incan citadel and often referred to as one of the new seven wonders of the world, as protesters descended on the capital of Lima, largely from remote Andean regions, to demand resignation President Dina Boluarte for.

Police raided Peru’s most important public university in Lima to evacuate protesters from outlying provinces who took part in the massive demonstrations that began Thursday in the capital.

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The protests, which have recently been concentrated in the country’s south, began last month after President Pedro Castillo, Peru’s first leader with a rural Andean background, was impeached and imprisoned after trying to dissolve Congress. . After this, more than 55 people have died in the violence that erupted.

The latest death occurred on Friday night, when a protester was killed and at least nine others were injured in clashes with police in the southern Puno area.

Protesters are calling for the resignation of Ms. Boluaarte, the former vice president sworn into office on December 7 to replace Mr. Castillo. They also want the Congress to be dissolved and fresh elections held. Mr Castillo is currently in custody on charges of insurrection.

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Some tourists stranded at Machu Picchu have chosen to walk to Piscacucho, the nearest village, Helguero said, “but that involves a walk of six, seven hours or more and only a small number of people have been able to do that.”

Train service to Machu Picchu has been suspended since Thursday due to damaged tracks. Some visitors choose to visit Machu Picchu via the Inca Trail, which involves a hike of several days.

This is not the first time tourists have been stranded at Machu Picchu since the protests began.

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Cusco, where Machu Picchu is located, has been the site of some of the most intense clashes between protesters and law enforcement, causing a significant loss of revenue to the tourism sector. Cusco airport was briefly closed this week after protesters stormed its facilities.

The culture ministry said tourists who had already bought tickets to Machu Picchu from Saturday, up to a month after the protests end, will be able to get a full refund.

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