Machu Picchu Blocked By Strikers In Peru

LIMA, Feb 2 (BERNAMA-NNN-PRENSA LATINA)--Residents in Peru's southern state of Cusco are protesting which could affect Machu Picchu tourism over the government's delay in starting construction of the Chinchero airport.

Peru''s government under former President Ollanta Humala awarded the Kuntur Wasi consortium a $659 million contract in 2014 to build a new airport in the Chinchero district an hour outside Cusco, the former capital of the Inca Empire and launching point for tourists visiting the Machu Picchu ruins.

But construction which was set to begin today was delayed as the government wrangles with contractual technicalities and politics.

This month the government introduced an addendum to the contract which would shift the majority of the financial burden to the state.

When news of the delay reached Cusco this morning, over 3,000 people marched in the Chinchero district where the airport is to be built.

They say that President Kuczynski has three days to come to Cusco and begin construction on the airport or they will block roads and carry out protests in an indefinite strike.

The new airport, slated to open in 2020, will be located an hour outside Cusco in the Chinchero district. The Chinchero airport will be Peru's second largest.

Protests have halted visitor traffic to Machu Picchu twice in the last two years.

Progressive leaders Veronika Mendoza ande centrist Victor Garcia Belaunde agree in pointing out that if the government is financing most of the budget it makes no sense to give away the construction project to the consortium that will exploted for 40 years and the state should cary it out for the national and regional benefit.