Majes Siguas II protests paralyze Cuzco, halt train service to Machu Picchu

Residents in the city of Cuzco started a 48-hour protest on Tuesday in support of residents in Espinar province who demonstrated last week over the Majes Siguas II irrigation project, Radioprogramas reported.

As a result of the protests, various services in Cuzco have been suspended, including train services to Peru’s sacred Inca citadel Machu Picchu and school. In addition, the highways to Apurimac, Puno and Arequipa departments have been blocked, while markets are closed and private transportation is scarce.

“The strike is almost 100 percent. There aren’t classes, transportation is paralyzed, they have suspended the trips to Machu Picchu. It is a protest in support of the Espinar population that has been evaded during the tender process,” said lawmaker Oswaldo Luizar, who represents Cuzco. “The population is going to be affected if they don’t take measures to guarantee the supply of water.”

Meanwhile, President Alan Garcia said he expects the protests are related to the upcoming October 3 regional and municipal elections. Following the elections, “the water will return to its level,” state news agency Andina reported Garcia as saying.

Residents in Espinar are concerned the multi-million dollar Majes Siguas II project could affect the availability of water from the Apurimac River. They held protests last week which resulted in at least one person killed and numerous other injured.

The project’s concession holder will design and build the Angostura dam, water transfer tunnels and a distribution network that will irrigate 38,500 hecatares in Siguas and 8,000 hectares in Majes.

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