Culture

Machu Picchu Reopened To Tourists With This Massive Performance But It Doesn’t Mean You Can Visit Just Yet

All around the world some of the most popular attractions have been shuttered for months because of the Coronavirus pandemic. With planes grounded and borders closed, few of us have been able to make those once in a lifetime trips.

With the fall in travel, entire communities are suffering as tourist dollars dry up and industries succumb to the economic effects of the pandemic. In Peru, a country heavily reliant on tourism, things are finally starting to improve as it appears the country has started to see a decrease in Covid-19 cases.

As the country reopened to international travel last month, it’s now reopening one of its most popular tourist attractions – Machu Picchu.

Peru’s famous Machu Picchu has reopened and is welcoming travelers for the first time tin eight months.

The Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, the crown jewel of Peru’s tourist sites, reopened Sunday with an ancient ritual after a nearly eight-month lockdown due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“Today, Machu Picchu opens. It opens with (health and safety) protocols, it opens to say that we are reactivating ourselves but with responsibility and great prudence, because we see everything happening in the world” with the pandemic, Foreign Trade and Tourism Minister Rocio Barrios said in a speech.

For safety reasons, however, only 675 tourists will be able to access the site per day, just 30 percent of the number of visitors pre-pandemic. The number of Coronavirus cases has been steadily decreasing in Peru, and tourists will be expected to maintain social distancing.

The first train of tourists arrived Sunday morning at Machu Picchu Pueblo, the village closest to the citadel, after a 90-minute journey along the Urubamba River from the ancient Inca village of Ollantaytambo.

Opening Machu Picchu to the world shows “that we Peruvians are resilient,” Barrios told the AFP.

To celebrate the reopening, officials hosted a massive celebration with traditional roots.

Peruvian authorities organized an Incan ritual to thank the gods on Sunday as the major tourist attraction once again welcomed visitors. The massive celebration was meant as an act of gratitude to Incan gods for welcoming the reopening.

Dozens of Indigenous performers and dancers welcomed a cadre of travelers with music and dance and officials orchestrated an incredible light show.

The pandemic has had a devastating effect on Peruvians – especially those dependent on tourism.

Ernesto Benavides / Getty Images

Tens of thousands of people in the mountainous Cusco region rely on visitors for their livelihoods and have suffered due to the Coronavirus lockdown closure this year.

Dozens of hotels, restaurants and tourism-related businesses throughout the region went bankrupt by the time a strict mandatory virus lockdown that lasted more than 100 days was lifted in July. Before the pandemic there were 80 hotels of various types in Ollantaytambo, a town with an imposing Inca stone fortress located at the end of the road from Cusco to Machu Picchu.

Taxi driver Eberth Hancco, who works at the airport of the city of Cusco, the former capital of the Inca empire, was among those affected.

“The situation has been very bad, because Cusco depends on tourism,” he told the BBC.

Just a few weeks ago, the park had welcomed one lucky traveler who had the ruins all to himself.

A Japanese tourist who made it to Peru just before the pandemic hit became the first person to have exclusive access to the park. Jesse Takayama had been stuck in Peru for seven months since the country had closed its borders.

In a video first reported by The Guardian, Jesse Takayama shared his immense gratitude for being allowed to visit the ancient Incan city – which had long been one of his dreams.

Peru’s Minister of Culture, Alejandro Neyra, said at a press conference that “He [Takayama] had come to Peru with the dream of being able to enter. The Japanese citizen has entered together with our head of the park so that he can do this before returning to his country.” Talk about a once in a lifetime experience. 

Neyra went on to add that this really was a rare moment and that Takayama only received access after submitting a special request to the local tourism authority. 

In an Instagram post about his special access, Takayama said that “Machu Picchu is so incredible! I thought I couldn’t go but many people asked the government. I’m the first one to visit Machu Picchu after lockdown!”

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Peruvian Woman Wins Battle Over Right To Die Request

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Peruvian Woman Wins Battle Over Right To Die Request

ANGELA PONCE/ Getty Images

No doubt about it, women have struggled more than anyone to convince the world that the right to make decisions about their bodies is theirs. Ana Estrada, a woman currently confined to her bed, knows this truth. After spending five years of attempting to convince Peruvian officials that she has what’s best for herself in mind, she has finally made a breakthrough.

Recently, Estrada was able to convince Peruvian officials to make a historic decision, regarding her own assisted death.

Euthanasia is largely illegal in the Roman Catholic country of Peru, but Estrada has been granted an exception.

Psychologist Ana Estrada, who has suffered from incurable and progressive polio since the age of 12, poses for pictures at her house in Lima, on February 15, 2020. – A Peruvian court on February 25, 2021 ordered the government to respect the wishes of Estrada to be allowed to die, a rare allowance for euthanasia in largely Catholic Latin America. (Photo by Angela PONCE / AFP) (Photo by ANGELA PONCE/AFP via Getty Images)

Euthanasia is a practice that is illegal in many countries across the globe including Peru where access to abortion and same-sex marriage are also banned. Still, Estrada made a decision for herself to commit to a five-year legal battle after she decided to end her own life “when the time comes.”

Recently, Peru’s government ruled not to appeal a court ruling which recognized her right to “a dignified death.”

“It is an individual case, but I hope it serves as a precedent,” Estrada, 44, explained to Reuters in a recent interview. “I think it is an achievement not only of mine, not only of my cause but also an achievement of law and justice in Peru.”

Estrada, who is a psychologist, has lived with the rare disease called polymyositis for three decades.

The painful disease progressively attacks her muscles and has resulted in her need to breathe with a respirator most of the time. According to NBC, a court ruling from last week granted that state health insurer EsSalud to provide “all conditions” needed for Estrada’s euthanasia. The court also ruled that the event must occur within 10 business days of the date that she decides to end her life. According to NBC, “EsSalud said a statement it would comply with the ruling and form medical commissions to develop a protocol for such cases. The court ruling also cleared anyone assisting Estrada in her death from facing charges, although local law still prohibits anyone from helping people to die.”

Estrada is the author of the blog “Ana seeks dignified death” which she began writing in 2016. In an interview with Reuters, she explained that she made the decision to end her life when she realized she was no longer able to write.

“My body is failing, but my mind and my spirit are happy,” she explained. “I want the last moment of my life to continue like this, in freedom, with peace, tranquility, and autonomy. I want to be remembered like that.”

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He Was The Mastermind Behind Peru’s Forced Sterilization Of Indigenous Women And He’s Finally On Trial

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He Was The Mastermind Behind Peru’s Forced Sterilization Of Indigenous Women And He’s Finally On Trial

ERNESTO BENAVIDES/AFP via Getty Images

Prosecutors in Peru are working hard to seek justice for the tens of thousands of Indigenous women who were forced to undergo surgical sterilizations in the 1990s, during the presidency of Alberto Fujimori.

As part of their work, prosecutors have asked that a judge permit the trial against the former president to move forward and just this week they were granted that request. The 82-year-old former president, who is already serving a 25-year prison sentence for other human rights abuses and corruption, says he shouldn’t be charged in the case because of a technicality.

Peru’s former president Alberto Fujimori will stand trial for his campaign to sterilize Indigenous women.

A judge in Peru opened proceedings on Monday against disgraced former president Alberto Fujimori and other officials accused of the “forced sterilizations” of thousands of poor, mostly Indigenous, women.

The judicial process led by Judge Rafael Martínez began following years of demands by human rights activists as well as numerous obstacles, including prosecutors who shelved investigations of Fujimori in the past.

He and his five fellow defendants are accused of being “indirect perpetrators of damage to life and health, serious injuries and serious human rights abuses” against women who were surgically sterilized between 1996 and 2000.

Fujimori and his fellow defendants, including three ex-health ministers, “did a lot of harm with their policies,” said public prosecutor Pablo Espinoza as he read out the charges against the 82-year-old former president. Espinoza said the accused “played with the lives and reproductive health of people, without caring about the damage” it would do to them.

Thousands of Indigenous women underwent forced sterilizations as part of a campaign to lower their birth rate.

During the 1990s, an estimated 270,000 Peruvians were subjected to surgery to have their fallopian tubes tied as part of a family planning program instigated during Fujimori’s final four years in power. Most of the victims were indigenous people including a woman who was 19 when in 1997 she took her baby to a clinic to be vaccinated, only to be tied up by soldiers.

Another woman died in March 1998 after she was subjected to the procedure.

As president, Fujimori announced at a congress in China in 1995 that his government would undertake a program to help poor Peruvian women decide the number of children they wanted to have. Later, there were growing complaints from women in poor communities in the Andes who said they had been sterilized without their knowledge.

Officials of Fujimori’s government claimed any excesses were the fault of overzealous local medical authorities. But the program was so controversial that the U.S. Congress cut aid payments to Peru that had been used to fund the program.

If the defendants are found guilty, the state could be liable for damages as Peru has recognized the right of victims of forced sterilization to receive reparations from the government.

The former president is already serving prison time for other crimes committed while in office.

Fujimori was arrested, tried, and convicted for a number of crimes related to corruption and human rights abuses that occurred during his government. Fujimori was president from 1990 to 2000. His presidency ended when he fled the country in the midst of a scandal involving corruption and human rights violations.

He was living in a self-imposed exile until his arrest while visiting Chile in November 2005. He was extradited to face criminal charges in Peru in September 2007 and has been in custody ever since. Though in December 2017, the country’s then President Pedro Kuczynski pardoned him on health grounds, however, that decision was overturned by the Peruvian Supreme Court in October 2018.

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