Residents Protest Peru Tourism Expansion
February 10, 2008 - Associated Press

LIMA, Peru (Map, News) - Residents near Peru's southern highland tourist destinations are fighting two government proposals to expand private development around Machu Picchu and other historical sites, including the ancient Inca capital of Cuzco.

(right) Demonstrators wave a flag symbolizing the Inca Empire as they protest two new laws passed by Congress in Peru's Andean city of Cuzco, Thursday, Feb. 7, 2008. The two new laws encourage private investment in Cuzco's historic areas and near cultural heritage sites. (AP Photo/Micaela Perez)

Protesters, who burned tires and blocked roads around Cuzco last week, are threatening more unrest if Congress does not reject the two proposed laws, said Hugo Gonzales, president of the department of Cuzco where Machu Picchu is located, on Saturday.

PeruRail suspended the only train service to Machu Picchu on Thursday after protesters closed roads and blocked access to public transportation. Tourists were transported out of the affected areas in police vehicles.

The proposed laws, one of which was already rejected but requires a second vote, would ease construction restrictions in Cuzco and allow for more hotels to be built near archaeological sites. The area between Cuzco and Machu Picchu is dotted with ancient Inca ruins. The second law is expected to be voted down as well.

Machu Picchu, ruins of a citadel built in the 1400s, is perched in the clouds at 2,430 meters (8,000 feet) above sea level on an Andean mountaintop.

Currently there is only one train to the nearby settlement of Aguas Calientes, and one hotel at the Machu Picchu site.

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