Machu Picchu deserted by tourists. Peru announced on Monday that it was considering a temporary closure of the most visited Inca site in the world, after five days of strike by residents against what they denounce as a “privatization” of the sale of entry tickets to the site. More than 1,200 tourists were evacuated over the weekend from the most visited Inca site in the world, due to this social movement.
According to the Minister of Culture, Leslie Urteaga, the leaders of the mobilization proposed that the site be closed for security reasons, in the absence of dialogue between the parties. “We will evaluate the collective's requests, one of which is to close the llapta (citadel). It would be painful for everyone, but we will evaluate it,” Ms. Urteaga told public television.
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Opponents launched an “unlimited” strike movement on Thursday to denounce a decision by the Ministry of Culture to use a private intermediary to manage the sale of tickets online, which they consider to be a first step towards the privatization of the site.
The collective claims that the chosen company, Joinnus, could benefit from up to $3.2 million per year in commissions thanks to the new system. Many businesses have lowered their curtains since Thursday and the railway operator Ferrocarril Transandino suspended its service to the site on Friday due to the demonstrations.
The Culture Ministry said the government would only discuss whether the strike, which causes daily losses of one million soles (about $263,000), was lifted. On Monday evening, the protest leaders finally announced that they would observe a 24-hour truce on Tuesday in order to establish a dialogue to find a solution.
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The Ministry of Culture affirms that the new sales system should make it possible to control the flow of tourists and preserve the citadel, classified as a World Heritage Site since 1983. Prime Minister Alberto Otarola also affirmed that a “mafia » had hijacked the current system of selling tickets at the counters for his own benefit.
The archaeological complex, located 130 kilometers from the city of Cusco and at an altitude of 2,438 meters, was built in the 15th century by order of the Inca emperor Pachacutec (1438-1470) and discovered in 1911 by the American explorer Hiram Bingham. Normally, it welcomes 4,500 tourists per day on average.