Peruvian Executive strips Cusco of 2008 APEC meetings

Defense Minister Ántero Flores-Aráoz announced today that Cusco will not host meetings during the 2008 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum in Peru. The announcement follows two days of protests in the former Inca capital last week and a recent statement by Cusco’s Regional Assembly saying it is organizing further strikes over a contentious tourism development law.

Thousands of tourists were stranded in Cusco during last week’s protest as demonstrators blocked highways and authorities closed the airport to prevent property damage and protect tourists. Access to rich archaeological and historic sites was also blocked, with an estimated cost of some $6.8 million a day.

“The hooligans don’t want members of APEC to go to Cusco. The other Cusqueños have been silent … rather than expressing their protest to the acts of violence, they stayed quiet, which in some measure was an acceptance of this violence. With their silence they could be called accomplices,” Agencia Andina reported Flores-Aráoz saying. “This will hurt Cusco, and it is a shame, but it will also hurt the entire country. The marvel that is Cusco will not be seen by those coming to attend APEC.”

Flores-Aráoz said there is little reason Peru’s Executive will reconsider its decision.Cusco’s first APEC meeting was scheduled for April 5–7, followed by a tourism Ministerial Meeting planned from April 9–11. Authorities had planned to host 12 APEC meetings in Cusco.

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