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Police Reportedly Fire Tear Gas at Machu Picchu Protesters

Police in Peru reportedly fired tear gas this weekend at protesters challenging the country’s decision to consolidate Machu Picchu ticket sales through a partnership with a private online ticketing platform. The new policy, which went into effect earlier this month, could affect the livelihoods of travel guides and other tourism industry workers, who have declared an “indefinite strike” until the government revokes the change. Train service to the 15th-century Inca complex has been suspended, stranding over 700 tourists.

“I demand an immediate stop to the police repression of the people of #MachuPicchu,” wrote former Culture Minister Silvana Robles on X. “NO to the privatization of ticket sales and to [the Culture Ministry’s] incapacity to administer this service.”

Police confront protesters on January 27. (via @verdeembeleso on X)

Activists first assembled in a peaceful protest on January 20. While they continue to display their opposition to the policy, Minister of Culture Leslie Urteaga has shown no signs of rescinding the rule, stating at a press conference yesterday, January 29, that the government would “not take a step back” from its partnership with Joinnus and would activate a recent legislative decree imposing 15-year prison sentences for Peruvians who block access to infrastructure such as rail lines or cultural heritage sites.

Urteaga has defended the new plan as a means to decrease the number of tourists to an already overcrowded site. Peru’s government caps visits to Machu Picchu, but the minister claims that black market ticket sales account for an additional 70,000 or 80,000 entrances each year. The government shuttered the site in September because of damage incurred from high visitor numbers.

Machu Picchu closed last January after mass political protests over inequality and alleged corruption blocked rail and plane access to the site. A total of 66 people were ultimately killed in violent clashes with police across the country, eliciting concern from the United Nations. Amnesty International has also warned of “the unlawful use of bullets, tear gas, and rubber and metal pellets” as a form of repression in Peru.

Hyperallergic has requested comment from Peru’s National Police.

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