Evodio Sanchez began planning a trip to Peru at the beginning of the year. “I was very excited, in 2019 I came to a consultancy and I loved the country,” he says by phone from Lima, the capital of the South American country. The tourist trip was planned: a few days in Cusco, others in Machu Picchu.

It was December 12 and, although five days had passed after Pedro Castillo’s self-coup attempt in Peru, he took the flight with his family . The continuity of the demonstrations in the country led the Mexican Foreign Secretary to organize humanitarian flights. The family was forced to take one of the flights that connected Cusco with Lima this Monday and, already at dawn, will take the one that leads from Lima to Mexico City. The idyllic trip left him with a bitter taste of the country. “I needed to go back to Mexico,” he laments.

Sanchez was confident on the trip. “I called people who knew about the issue and they told me that this had happened on other occasions, they told me ‘I don’t think there is a problem,’” he recounts. He arrived in Lima and, two hours later, he was in Cusco. “I started talking to people and I felt an angry environment, like annoyed by the change,” says the tourist, who considers that this situation was similar to the “polarization environment” that he finds in Mexico. On December 12, the situation changed. On their way from the Cusco airport to Machu Picchu, they were warned that there would be demonstrations. That day, thousands of Peruvians took to the streets to protest against Congress.

More than 20 civilians have died and 300 police officers have been injured during the demonstrations of the last days. This event led to the resignation of two senior officials: the Minister of Education, Patricia Correa, who did so last Friday for the use of “disproportionate and death-generating” violence by the security forces; and the Minister of Culture, Jair Perez. Both had been appointed to the position on December 10.

When they arrived at their hotel in Aguas Calientes (a city close to the ruins) the problems began. They had been there the day they planned, but road closures forced them to stay for three more days. “They did not give us reasons. Then we found out about the blockades ”, he affirms. The closure of the roads, he assures, led to there being less food in the hotel, so they decided to walk back to the nearest place to take them to Cusco. They undertook a 35 km walk, nine hours of walking. “Fortunately I found a man who rented some horses, otherwise my daughter would not have arrived,” he recalls. “One imagines living a dream in Machu Picchu, but the return was a life experience that I hope no one has,” he laments. On the 16th they took the humanitarian flight to Lima.

The tourist experience was not so bitter for all the travelers who arrived at Machu Picchu that day. It was the case of Josue Valenzuela and his partner. Valenzuela says that around the citadel there were many “scared” tourists and he notes that they were locked up for a few days, although he defends that the same thing did not happen to him. “If things get ugly, we’ll go to Chile or Bolivia,” he says. The flight they have reserved will leave on the 28th, and they plan to stay in Peru until then. Despite the protests, he affirms that he will not fly on any of the humanitarian flights announced by Foreign Affairs. During the call, Valenzuela is in the Plaza Mayor of Lima, a place where the almost festive atmosphere is heard. He there he defends that, although there are demonstrations, he has not coincided with any in which he felt insecure.

Evodio Sanchez got the humanitarian flight to return to Mexico thanks to the constant contact and support of the Mexican ambassador in Peru, Pablo Monroy, according to his account. “I called him, I had the need to come back,” he says. The idyllic 12-day trip ended up leaving a bitter taste for the family: “It undid a dream,” laments Sanchez during the call.

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