Peru protests strand sick, hungry tourists in remote town


Protests triggered by Peru's developing political crisis have stranded dozens of tourists, including children, in a remote mountain town for over 48 hours as locals refuse passage to Bolivia, a member of the group told Reuters.

About six buses and 60 people became stranded in the Andean town of Checacupe, in Peru's Cusco region, in the early hours of Dec. 13, said Wilmaris Villarroel, a Costa Rican-Venezuelan alpinist whose bus was stopped en route to La Paz, Bolivia.

The Dec. 7 ouster of former President Pedro Castillo has sparked deadly street protests across Peru, as well as highway and train blockades that have stranded hundreds of tourists at Peru's Machu Picchu ruins.

Villarroel told Reuters that locals would not let the group, which she says includes elderly people and children, continue their journey.

"They said if we tried to pass they would burn us alive," Villarroel said, although Reuters was unable to verify the claim.

Villarroel added that the buses' Bolivian drivers have been unwilling or unable to turn around, and that police presence has been minimal.

Meanwhile, efforts to secure aid from foreign embassies in Peru have been unsuccessful, Villarroel said.

In video shot by Villarroel and verified by Reuters, travelers from Argentina, Chile, France, Japan, England, Peru and the United States call for international assistance.

"We've been taken hostage in Peru," a French woman said in the video.

Villarroel said the group has little cash and locals have resisted selling them food and water, leaving them hungry and dehydrated, with several falling ill as they are forced to sleep on buses with toilets that no longer function.

"We're not to blame for what's happening in the country," Willarroel told Reuters. "It is a beautiful nation and we just want to continue our journey."

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