Hundreds of tourists stranded in Peru near Machu Picchu could soon be on their way out of the country after the main railroad into the region began limited operations after being shut down because of political unrest, according to reports.
The U.S. Embassy in Peru issued a press release on Saturday afternoon saying the Government of Peru resumed limited rail service to help travelers leave Aguas Calientes/Machu Picchu village.
The trains would then depart to a “designated point on the railway,” where passengers would then be responsible to get off and travel the rest of the way to Cusco in other vehicles.
On Sunday, the U.S. Embassy said flights out of Cusco Airport (CUZ) were departing at a normal volume, though anyone heading to the airport were advised not to unless they have confirmed flights scheduled to leave on time.
Other airports in the areas like Ayacucho (AYP), Arequipa (AQP), Juliaca (JUL), and Andahuaylas (ANS) will remain closed, the U.S. embassy said, though Arequipa is scheduled to reopen on Monday.
Among the U.S. tourists trapped on the mountain were two Chicago police officers, a pregnant couple from Acworth, Georgia, and a Miami-Dade Fire Rescue captain, who reported to Florida’s Local 10 News that there were about 200 American citizens in town. Thousands more were unable to travel across the country because of protests.
On Dec. 7, Peruvian President Pedro Castillo dissolved the country’s Congress, calling on new elections ahead of renewed efforts to removed him from office. Castillo created a new emergency government and said he would amend leadership in the police, constitutional court, and judiciary.
Efforts to remove Castillo were rooted in allegations of corruption, with six open investigations against the president.
Castillo was replaced by his former vice-president, Dina Boluarte, because the president’s actions were seen as an effort by Congress to preserve power.
But Boluarte’s appointment was unpopular because she was unknown to the people while Castillo was seen as one of the people.
As protests started to erupt across Peru, Boluarte dispatched authorities to crack down on them, though that only made things worse. Violence broke out and at least seven people died on Thursday night, and 50 people were injured.
A judge ordered Castillo to be detained for up to 18 months as prosecutors build a case against him.
On Friday, Boluarte declared a state of emergency to get control of the unrest, dispatching military to the protests and bringing the death toll to over 22 people, The New York Times reported.
The 30-day state of emergency means the rights of assembly and freedom of movement are suspended and an overnight curfew is in place across many major Peruvian cities.
Around 5,000 tourists were stranded in the city of Cusco as they waited for flights to restart, Machu Picchu’s mayor told the AFP news agency.
Since 2016, Perú has been entrenched in political crises, with congresses and presidents trying to eliminate each other in turn.