The European Union denounces the “disproportionate” police response to the deadly unrest as the death toll among protesters rises to 45.
Peru has closed its famous historic site Machu Picchu 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 .
Saturday’s shutdown 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 to demand the resignation of new Peruvian President Dina. Bolarte.
The latest death occurred in the southern town of Ilave.
Video footage of Ilave that has been shared widely on social media shows police firing directly into 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 border with Bolivia left 10 injured, hospital officials said.
Amid the unrest, the Culture Ministry said it was ordering the closure of the Inca Trails network and the Machu Picchu Citadel “due to the social situation and to preserve the safety of visitors”.
Prior to Machu Picchu’s closure, rail services to the site had already been suspended due to damage to the track by protesters. The only way to get to the popular tourist spot is by train.
At least 400 people, including 300 foreigners, found themselves stranded at the foot of the site, in the municipality of Aguas Calientes, and begging to be evacuated.
Rescue teams then 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 a failed attempt by former President Pedro Castillo in December to dissolve Congress and rule by decree, a move condemned by the Constitutional Court as a “coup”.
Castillo was impeached and arrested, and his deputy Boluarte ascended to the presidency, becoming the sixth person to assume the role in five years.
The series of quick events has sparked outrage among Castillo supporters, whose unlikely rise from an elementary school teacher and illiterate farmer’s son to the country’s president has made him a popular icon among many low-income Peruvians. . Experts said a long history of exclusion in the country had created fertile ground for protests.
In recent days, protesters have repeatedly defied declarations of states of emergency in violence-ridden regions to take to the streets.
Police have arrested 205 people accused of illegally entering the campus of a major university in Lima.
Alfonso Barrenechea, of 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 unlawful trespassing on university premises. and for allegedly stealing electronic goods.
The EU condemned the government’s response to the unrest, saying police used “disproportionate force” against protesters.
“The EU calls on the government and all political actors to take urgent steps to restore calm and ensure inclusive dialogue with the participation of civil society and affected communities as a way out of the crisis,” the 27-member bloc said. in a press release. .
“The ongoing social and political crises must be addressed with full respect for the constitutional order, the rule of law and human rights,” he added.