O Peru announced this Monday that it is considering temporarily suspending visits to Machu Picchu after residents protested for four days against the “privatization” of ticket sales for this Inca citadel. According to Culture Minister Leslie Urteaga, the leaders of the mobilization called for the closure for security reasons, citing a lack of dialogue to repeal the measure Shop closures, marches and train blockades. “We will examine the demands of this collective, which include the closure of the citadel.” “That would be painful for everyone, but we will evaluate it,” Urteaga said in state media. Over the weekend, more than 1,200 Peruvian and foreign tourists trapped during the protests were evacuated by train, some of whom were unable to enter the preHispanic complex. The police organized and secured the exit after closing the roads. Train traffic, the main means of transport there, has been suspended since Friday.
The minister added that the government will only enter into dialogue if the strike, which is causing daily losses of one million soles (1.31 million reais), is interrupted.
The protest was organized by groups from the Machu Picchu Pueblo district in Cusco department and rejected the Culture Ministry's decision to hire a private intermediary to handle online ticket sales.
The government initially claimed problems with its platform, but on Monday it denounced an outbreak of corruption in the management of tickets offered for sale at ticket offices. “Every effort will be made to break with a mafia that is illegally abusing the ticket problem and we will not shy away from the need to change this model of corruption,” said Chief of Staff Alberto Otálora.
The Ministry of Culture commissioned the Peruvian company Joinnus to sell online tickets for Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail network. However, traders and tour operators reject the new system, which went into operation nine days ago, as they see it as the first step towards the privatization of the resort.
The citadel receives an average of around 4,500 visitors per day. Under the new system, the government has reserved about 1,000 day passes for direct sales at the Machu Picchu Pueblo Cultural Center.
A World Heritage Site since 1983, Machu Picchu is located 130 kilometers from the city of Cusco and 2,438 meters above sea level. It was built in the 15th century by order of the Inca Emperor Pachacutec (14381470).