Since Peru’s president Pedro Castillo was removed from office last week, facing an impeachment trial, his supporters have been taking over the streets in protest. The situation has gravely impacted free movement around the country, with roads and airports having to close down.
1. Disruptions across the country
Apurimac, Arequipa, Cusco, Ica and the Panamericana Highway are the most affected, with roadblocks set in place along the highway. Moreover, a state of emergency, lasting 60 days, has been declared in several provinces of the Apurimac region – Abancay, Andahuaylas, Chincheros, Grau, Cotabambas, Antabamba and Aymaraes.
Trains are heavily disrupted, with PeruRail links to Machu Picchu being suspended. Other Ferrocarril Transandino routes across the country have also been affected, as well as tour buses, especially in Southern Peru.
So far, 5 airports have closed as a result of the riots. Andahuaylas (ANS) was ambushed on Sunday, 11 December, the conflict between protesters and the police resulting in two casualties. The following morning, Arequipa (AQP) was attacked. Police were able to prevent a takeover, but the airport is temporarily closed until further notice. The Cusco (CUS) airport was closed on Tuesday, 13 December, because the safety of passengers and staff could not be ensured.
We are carrying out pertinent coordination with the airlines and the airport community to resume operations in the short term and when conditions exist that guarantee the safety of passengers, our equipment and the entire airport community.Concessionaire of Inca Manco Capac International Airport
On Wednesday, 14 December, the Inca Manco Capac International Airport (JUL) was preventively closed since a group of protesters was close by and intended to enter the airport. All operations were suspended, 250 were passengers evacuated and the staff was ensured shelter. An update mentioned the airport is working on fixing the damage caused by protesters and trying to reopen as soon as possible.
The latest airport to suspend operations was Alfredo Mendivil Duarte in Ayacucho (AYP), which received a warning from the Armed Forces on Thursday, 15 December, about a group of demonstrators on the way to ambush it. It closed down before the protesters reached the premises.
2. Travelling to Peru
The UK Foreign office has issued a warning regarding travelling to Peru: “The political situation is volatile. Protests can escalate quickly and include violence. Local protests are common, can start with very little notice and can turn violent quickly, potentially causing lengthy disruption to travel and services. Protests can disrupt road, rail, river and air travel and affect tourist areas.” Although it did not specifically advise against travelling to the South American country, it urged tourists to avoid crowds and closely monitor local media for updates.
Since no official recommendation has been made, it remains up to travel companies to decide whether or not to cancel trips or reimburse tourists who wish to change their plans.
We spoke with António and Demet, who live in the Netherlands and were supposed to go to Peru on their honeymoon next Tuesday, but decided to cancel their trip.
The turning point for us was when the Netherlands government advised against travelling to Peru. Plus we saw all the airports and roads getting closed, it just didn’t make any sense to go anymore.António, tourist
António told Travel Tomorrow that after the Dutch government issued a warning against travelling to Peru yesterday, they decided not to make the journey anymore, but despite all the airports getting closed, the airline refused to issue a refund, so now they are hoping insurance will be able to help.
Although they decided not to go right now, they said Peru is still a country they wish to visit and they will try to make it there next year: “It’s a country that’s been on our list for a while now, for the culture, gastronomy, everything, we still very much want to go. Summer there will end soon, so not this year, but we hope we’ll make it next year if things calm down.”