Cusco prepares for future protests

Cusco’s Regional Assembly has decided to organize another protest over a contentious tourism development law passed by Congress in mid-February. The president of the assembly, Efraín Yépez, said they have not set a date for the 72-hour protest, but added they will seek support from other departments, particularly in Peru’s jungle region to make it a national demonstration, daily La República reported.

Yépez added they will file a lawsuit with the Constitutional Tribunal, Peru’s highest court, arguing the legislation is unconstitutional. The assembly will also try to organize a referendum on the issue with support from the National Office of Electoral Processes, the State body responsible for organizing elections in Peru.

Cusco’s Regional Assembly organized protests on Thursday and Friday against the tourism development law, which would give regional governments and municipalities power to offer concessions to ease private investment adjacent to Peru’s rich archaeological and historic sites.

Thousands of tourists were stranded as protestors blocked roads to Cusco and authorities closed the city’s airport to prevent property damage and protect tourists. Authorities also suspended train service to Machu Picchu, Peru’s top tourist attraction and ancient citadel of the Incas.

The head of the Lima Chamber of Commerce said the protests would cost Cusco some $6.8 million a day and tourism and hotel consultant, Percy Tapia, estimated for every tourist affected, 12 would not come in the future.

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