Things That Matter

These Tourists Thought It Would Be Funny To Poop Inside A Temple In Machu Picchu: They’re Facing Prison Time

Picture this: You’ve made the long, difficult journey to Machu Picchu, taking a variety of planes and trains and buses to get there, and now finally, you’re inside the grounds. You begin to explore the more than 500-year-old site, marveling at its ancient structures, its surreal terraces and ramps. Life is sweet; the world is wonderful and mysterious. But at some point —and for some unknown reason— you sneak into a sacred temple constructed half a millennium ago, drop your pants, and POOP one of the greatest marvels this world has to offer. This actually happened.

Six tourists emptied their bowels inside the hallowed grounds of an Incan worshipping room: There’s something deeply wrong with some people.

For some inexplicable reason, that’s exactly what a group of tourists allegedly did over the weekend, France 24 reports. Six people in their twenties and early thirties were arrested on Sunday after Peruvian authorities caught them in a restricted area of Machu Picchu’s Temple of the Sun, a revered part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Park rangers and police found feces inside of the temple.

The Temple of the Sun had also been damaged after a piece of stone had “broken off a wall and caused a crack in the floor,” regional police chief Wilbert Leyva told Andina, a local news agency. “The six tourists are being detained and investigated by the public ministry for the alleged crime against cultural heritage,” Leyva said.

The group was made up of one French, two Brazilians, two Argentines and a Chilean, according to police.

They face at least four years in prison if found guilty of damaging Peru’s heritage. Several parts of the semicircular Temple of the Sun are off limits to tourists for preservation reasons.

Worshipers at the temple would make offerings to the sun.

The sun was considered the most important deity in the Inca empire as well as other pre-Inca civilizations in the Andean region. The Machu Picchu estate—which includes three distinct areas for agriculture, housing and religious ceremonies—is the most iconic site from the Inca empire that ruled a large swathe of western South America for 100 years before the Spanish conquest in the 16th century.

Three Argentines, a Brazilian, a Chilean and a French woman make up the group.

Local media reported that all the tourists were aged between 20 and 32. In 2014, authorities denounced a trend that saw tourists getting naked at the sacred location. Four American tourists were detained in March of that year forremoving their clothes and posing for photos at the site. In a pair of separate incidents earlier in the same week, two Canadians and two Australians were detained for stripping down for pictures there.

Machu Picchu, means “old mountain” in the Quechua language indigenous to the area.

The historic site is at the top of a lush mountain and was built during the reign of the Inca emperor Pachacuti (1438-1471). It lies around 100 kilometers (60 miles) from the Andean city of Cusco, the old Inca capital in southeastern Peru. The site was rediscovered in 1911 by the American explorer Hiram Bingham. UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site in 1983.

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Mexico Announces 11 New Pueblos Mágicos And It’s The Post-COVID Travel Lust We All Need Right Now

Culture

Mexico Announces 11 New Pueblos Mágicos And It’s The Post-COVID Travel Lust We All Need Right Now

Alfredo Mancia / Getty Images

Although Mexico is literally one of seven countries that U.S. citizens can travel to right now amid the global Coronavirus pandemic, it doesn’t mean that we should all pack up our suitcases and hop on a plane. In fact, U.S. visitors to the country are already causing a spike in cases across the country.

However, Mexico is looking forward to a post-COVID world and the hopeful return of tourism to the country, which so many Mexicans depend on for their livelihoods.

With that in mind, the government is expanding its widely successful ‘Pueblo Magico’ program that highlights cities and towns across the country for historical, architectural and/or cultural contributions to the country.

Just last week, officials announced 11 new pueblos to the list of 121 existing destinations on the list, with the hope that these new communities will become pillars of the economy and help drive tourism and much-needed growth.

Mexico adds 11 new destinations to the successful ‘Pueblo Mágico’ program.

Mexico has long been a popular destination for travelers from around the world. But much of that tourism (and along with the economic benefits) has focused on the large coastal resorts, like Puerto Vallara and Cancun. The government hoped to help diversify that development when it launched the ‘Pueblo Mágico’ program, by bringing tourists to typically less traveled destinations.

Now, the list of 121 existing “magical towns” has grown by 11 more as the government announced new destinations to the list for 2021.

Mexico’s lakeside community of Ajijic, Jalisco, and the small port of Sisal, Yucatán, are among 11 new “Magical Towns” announced last week by the federal Tourism Ministry. The other nine new Pueblos Mágicos are Isla Aguada, Campeche; Maní, Yucatán; Mexcaltitán, Nayarit; Paracho, Michoacán; Santa Catarina Juquila, Oaxaca; Santa María del Río, San Luis Potosí; Tetela de Ocampo, Puebla; Tonatico, México state; and Zempoala, Hidalgo.

Announcing the new Magical Towns at a virtual press conference, Tourism Minister Miguel Torruco said that they and the existing ones will become “pillars of the regional and national economy” under the current federal government.

He also said that domestic tourism – many of the Pueblos Mágicos rely heavily on local visitors – will be “the driving force” of the tourism recovery amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

As we wait for a post-COVID world, here’s a look at some of the highlights from these incredible pueblos mágicos.

Located south of Guadalajara on the banks of Lake Chapala, Ajijic has a population of around 10,000 people, a large number of whom are retired expats from the United States and Canada. The town has a lakeside malecón, or promenade, a well-maintained central square, cobblestone streets and several art galleries among other attractions.

Sisal will likely grow into a very popular tourist destination.

Sisal is located about 50 miles northwest of Mérida on the Gulf of Mexico coast. Formerly Yucatán’s main port, it is now a sleepy beach town with fewer than 2,000 residents. The town’s name comes from the Sisal plant, a species of agave that yields a sturdy fiber that was once shipped abroad from the Yucatán port. Sisal, the town, has a fort, pier and an abundance of mangroves that can be visited on a tour with a local guide.

Also in the state of Yucatán, Maní is a small city about 65 miles south of Mérida. Inhabited by the indigenous Mayan people for thousands of years, the newly-minted Pueblo Mágico has a 16th-century church and convent. Uxmal, one of the Yucatán Peninsula’s most impressive archaeological sites, is located less than a hour’s drive to the west.

In Michoacán, Paracho draws on its rich traditions.

The guitar making hub of Paracho, located about 75 miles west of Michoacán’s capital Morelia, is the sixth new town on the Pueblos Mágicos list. Full of shops that sell handmade guitars and other stringed instruments, Paracho’s fame was enhanced by the animated Day of the Dead-inspired Disney-Pixar film Coco because an artisan who trained there was responsible for the design of the main characters’s white guitar.

Oaxaca already has its fair share of pueblos mágicos but this new addition was much welcomed.

Inland from the Oaxaca resort town of Puerto Escondido is Santa Catarina Juquila, a town of about 6,000 people best known for its church. The Santuario de Nuestra Señora Imaculada de Juquila (Shrine of Our Immaculate Lady of Juquila) houses a small statue of the Juquila virgin, which has been venerated for hundreds of years. As a result, the church is a popular destination for Catholic pilgrims.

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Peru Is In Crisis As The Country Searches For A New President Amid Protests And A Police Crackdown

Things That Matter

Peru Is In Crisis As The Country Searches For A New President Amid Protests And A Police Crackdown

ERNESTO BENAVIDES/AFP via Getty Images

Peru is facing one of the greatest crises the nation has faced. Just as the country seemed to be emerging from the worst of its battle against the Covid-19 pandemic, the country has entered a severe political crisis.

In less than a week, the country is on the verge of seeing its third president – if legislators can find someone able and willing to take the job. In the meantime, protesters are making their voices heard in cities all across the country and police are using violence and oppression to silence them.

For a country that was turning the bend on the pandemic, how exactly did Peru end up crashing into one crisis from another?

Peru’s interim-President has resigned just days after assuming the office.

Peruvians woke up on Monday morning still wondering who would be their new head of state after lawmakers failed overnight to name a replacement to become the country’s third president in a week.

It was less than 24 hours earlier that the country’s interim leader Manuel Merino was forced to resign. Following a week of protests against the removal of former President Martín Vizcarra, police responded with increased force over the weekend.

Saturday’s protests in Lima, which are mostly being led by young Peruvians, were largely peaceful but clashes broke out towards the evening between police and protesters. Police reportedly fired tear gas and shotgun pellets to repel demonstrators, some of whom had thrown fireworks and stones. Two students, Jack Pintado, 22, and Inti Sotelo, 24, were killed in the protests.

Politicians immediately called for Merino’s resignation following the violent crackdown. In fact, twelve of his own ministers (of his recently appointed cabinet) resigned in protest against police brutality and his handling of the crisis.

“I want to let the whole country know that I’m resigning,” Merino said in a televised address.

It’s still not clear who will be selected to take over the country until elections can be held in April.

Credit: Roberto Agn / Getty Images

On Sunday, legislators failed to approve Rocío Silva-Santisteban, a leftist human rights defender, as the next interim leader – even though he was the only name put forward for consideration.

The country’s fragmented and unpopular legislature will vote again on Monday when another name will be on the list: lawmaker Francisco Sagasti, a 76-year-old industrial engineer and former World Bank official.

Peru’s political upheaval adds to the uncertainty facing the country as it was already hit devastatingly hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. Many fear that the ongoing crisis will lead to the worst economic contraction the country has seen in more than a century.

The political crisis started just last week when the elected president was impeached and removed from office.

It was just last week that the nation’s elected leader – ex-President Martín Vizcarra – was impeached and removed from office by Congress over allegations of corruption.

Since taking office in March 2018, Vizcarra was embroiled in a bitter battle with Congress, which is made up of rival parties. During his presidency, he worked to combat corruption throughout the country’s legislature. Half of the lawmakers are under investigation or indictment for alleged crimes including money laundering and homicide.

And as president, he enjoyed support among the public and voters but it was ultimately the allegations of bribery that brought him down. He has denied allegations that he accepted bribes worth 2.3 million soles ($640,000) when he was governor of the southern Moquegua region.

The former president has asked the country’s highest court to weigh in. “It can’t be that the institution that got us into this political crisis, that has for five days paralyzed Peru, with deaths, is going to give us a solution, choosing the person who they best see fit,” Vizcarra said, according to The Associated Press.

The country was just emerging from what seemed the worst of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Credit: ERNESTO BENAVIDES/AFP via Getty Images

Many are concerned about the country’s short and long-term future, as a growing political and constitutional crisis seems likely. At the beginning of the pandemic, Peru imposed one of the earliest and strictest lockdowns in Latin America to stop the spread of coronavirus – but has still seen cases rise rapidly.

It has so far reported nearly 935,000 infections and more than 35,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University – making it the country with the third highest rate of deaths per 100,000 people in the world.

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