Two Chicago police officers who were vacationing in Peru have found themselves stranded there after the South American country’s new government declared a police state in response to widespread unrest.
Peru descended into chaos last week as thousands took to the streets to protest the removal of President Pedro Castillo, disrupting trade and affecting thousands of tourists.
When the two cops realized what was happening around them, they went to the airport early Monday — the day of their scheduled flight home — but were unable to get on a plane, John Catanzara, the president of the Fraternal Order of Police in Chicago, told WGN-TV.
“They were basically told after waiting there a couple of hours, ‘Get out of here now, the country is not secured, the airport has been taken over, there’s no flights leaving. Get back to your hotel,’” Catanzara said.
According to the US Embassy in Peru, flights to and from four airports in the country have been suspended. The embassy encouraged those to work with their airlines to book a flight home, and said travelers in Cusco, the Sacred Valley, and in Aguas Calientes/Machu Picchu Village “are advised to shelter in place until safe transportation options become available.”
The US State Department said that it had issued alerts to Americans on December 7, 9, 11, 12, 13, and 15, and said it “will continue to evaluate the security situation and provide updates to US citizens as appropriate.
“We encourage U.S. citizens to follow guidance from the Peruvian National Police and local authorities, and to keep in touch with the airlines for updated flight status,” the department told WGN-TV in a statement.
In response to the protests, in which at least 14 people have been killed, Peru has suspended the rights of “personal security and freedom” across the South American country for 30 days.
Thousands of tourists have been affected by the protests as rail line services have been suspended and road blocks have made traveling to some parts of the country impossible.
Protesters have burned police stations, taken over an airstrip used by the armed forces and invaded the runway of the international airport in Arequipa, a gateway to some of Peru’s popular tourist attractions.
Castillo, a leftist school teacher with humble roots, was ordered by a judge to remain in state custody for 18 months on Thursday after he was ousted by lawmakers after he attempted to dissolve Congress before a third impeachment vote.
His supporters, most of whom are from the impoverished, rural regions of the country, have demanded Castillo’s freedom, the resignation of President Dina Boluarte, and the immediate scheduling of general elections to pick a new president and members of Congress.
The crisis has deepened the instability of the country — which has had six presidents in as many years.
With Post Wires