Machu Picchu is open again to visitors, after the Peruvian government reaches an agreement with political protesters.
For over two months, protests demanding the resignation of President Dina Boluarte and much of Peru’s Congress have paralyzed the region, including blockading the train used to access the mountaintop ruin above Cuzco.
Former President Pedro Castillo was removed from power by Boluarte in December, after a catastrophic first term highlighted by corruption and high turnover in his cabinet. Castillo, who is Indigenous and left-wing, never had the support of his heavily right-wing and white Congress.
When Castillo was impeached in December and Boluarte announced that she would take his seat until 2026, the next scheduled election, public furor was immediate. Huge numbers of protesters took to the streets. Boluarte compounded her unpopularity by treating them like terrorists. She encouraged disproportionate police response, and so far, at least 60 protesters, including several children, and only one policeman have been killed.
When protests closed all access to Machu Picchu on January 21st, the Peru government had to airlift more than 400 tourists off the site by helicopter.
The protests have hit the local tourism industry hard, a major support of the entire Cuzco area. Representatives of the industry have applied pressure on Boluarte’s government to come to some compromise with the protesters before the entire industry collapses.
It still sounds like a risky proposition to attempt travel in the area, but cutting off the lifeline of tourism to the common man there serves no one, and so efforts are being made to keep Machu Picchu open to the public. The Inca citadel was built in the 1400s as an imperial estate, and was only in use for between 80 and 120 years before being abandoned during the Spanish conquest. Before the pandemic, 1.4 million people visited a year.