2 Miami-Dade first responders stuck in Peru as protests intensify – WSVN 7News | Miami News, Weather, Sports
MIAMI (WSVN) – A Miami-Dade Fire Rescue captain and a Miami-Dade Police sergeant are among those caught up in the chaos of a country in the midst of political turmoil.
One of them was supposed to fly home from Peru on Wednesday and the other on Christmas Eve, but now those return-flight dates are up in the air.
“There’s just no way out, whatsoever. We’re just sitting here waiting and waiting, and it’s getting worse and worse and worse,” MDPD Sgt. Jessenia Munoz said.
“I wasn’t aware of what was about to transpire, and now I’m stuck,” MDFR Capt. Brian Vega said. “The only way into this town is by a train, and from what I understand, protesters have dismantled the train tracks.”
Munoz is in the tourist destination city of Cusco, and Vega is at a hotel at the base of Machu Picchu.
The two South Florida first responders each traveled there for an adventure, unaware that trouble was looming.
The protests started when the president of Peru was pushed out and jailed after announcing his plans to dissolve congress. Since then, four people have been killed and dozens injured.
Roads are blocked, railways destroyed and flights have been canceled. Thousands of tourists from all over the world are left with no way out.
“Thing is, you could see protests, they were very peaceful, but as the days went by, things started not being peaceful,” Munoz said.
On Wednesday, officials with the U.S. Embassy in Peru tweeted they are working to offer guidance to stranded Americans.
On Friday, U.S. Rep. Carlos Gimenez, R-Fla., sent a letter to the State Department that reads in part, “The Department of State must provide these U.S. citizens in Peru with the resources that they need to safely return home.”
“It was very alarming to learn that in this crisis in Peru that some of our own are in trouble,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.
She has reached out to the White House.
“We’re all hopeful that the White House will be able to bring diplomatic pressure to the situation and safely evacuate our residents and our first responders,” Levine Cava said.
For those witnessing civil unrest in a foreign land, that help can’t come soon enough.
“We’re stuck here, and things are getting progressively worse,” said Munoz.
“It’s unfortunate what’s happening in the country; hopefully they can resolve this and come to an agreement,” said Vega. “We just want to get back safely to our families.”
The airport in Lima, Peru is still operating as of Friday night, but with so many roads blocked and railways damaged, some people are simply not able to reach the airport to fly home.
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