Peru’s instability leaves youth soccer team stranded

As a result of the political instability that Peru is going through, 450 Mexicans, including 22 teenagers belonging to the U15 team of the Academia Atlante Toluca FC, remain stranded in the South American country waiting for federal authorities to rescue them.
Between December 8 and 11, the youth team participated in an international soccer tournament in the community of Guadeloupe, Peru. They were runners-up and received the trophy for the best player and goalkeeper.
On the night of Sunday, December 11, the teenagers, four members of the coaching staff and two parents could no longer arrive in Lima, where they were scheduled to take their flight back to Mexico City.

“We wanted to get to Lima, but because of the blockades on the highway due to the political problems that the country currently has, it was no longer possible for us to continue advancing and we were stranded on the Pan-American Highway,” said Ingrid de la Torre Estrada, counselor and administrator of the academy, in an interview from Peru.
Currently, the minors and the coaching staff are in a hotel in the city of Trujillo, where they hope that in the coming days the Mexican authorities can help them return to the country.
According to the initial plan, they would all travel by road to Lima. However, the instability that Peru is going through – where Pedro Castillo wanted to dissolve Congress, was dismissed and later arrested – makes the roads unsafe, so it is expected that this Sunday they will be able to travel by plane, according to the Mexican embassy in Peru.

Read: Former Peruvian president given 18 months of pretrial detention; 15 dead from protests
It is a maneuver that is not easy because, although the Trujillo airport is in operation, flights to Lima were canceled.
“We have spoken (to the boys) with the truth, they have observed the situation and have not taken any kind of risk, that I do want to make clear. They are fine, obviously they have the support of us,” De la Torre said.
“The embassy gave the option of being able to send a plane; however, multiple permissions are required. The fact of landing a foreign plane here and the situation in which the country is is a bit difficult; so, they are checking how to get from Trujillo to Lima.”
In a telephone interview, Marcela Pineda, mother of 15-year-old Diego Mercado Pineda, who was recognized in the tournament as the best player, requested the direct intervention of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
Although the embassy has let them know that this Sunday it will seek the team to arrive in Lima, the woman questioned why a plane has not been sent to bring back the minors and many other people seeking to leave Peru.
“With the Air Force they could have already done it because we know that it has been done with other people, why not go for Mexicans or more for them who are minors (…) We have known and appreciate the efforts made, but a week has already been very late, “said Pineda.
“We know they are waiting for the best time to ensure the safety of the boys, and we appreciate that, but we have the uncertainty of what will happen if it is not on Sunday because the airports do not open. Why not send a flight for them?” he insisted.
Like the governing body of the soccer academy, the mother stressed that the children are well and do not run any risk because they are sheltered in a hotel, while the academy has taken care of all the expenses, but as the days go by the boys and their families begin to worry more.
“I have let him know to be calm, that if things do not happen you have to be in the mood,” said the mother.
“You know your children, the first calls were of enthusiasm and happiness… but as the days go by and at this time one is more sensitive and thinks ‘What if they do not arrive’, ‘It’s almost Christmas’, ‘What if the airports are not opened'”.

According to the latest update released by the ambassador of Mexico in Peru, Pablo Monroy Conesa, at the moment there is a record of more than 450 people – more than half in Cusco – who seek to return to the country.
He also reported that five airports are closed.
On the case of the soccer team, the ambassador confirmed that this Sunday they will try to transfer them to Lima.
“At the moment we have scheduled the flight from Trujillo to Lima for this Sunday night, which most likely could leave for Mexico on Monday morning or afternoon,” the ambassador said in a message through the social networks of the Foreign Ministry.
Another group of Mexicans who have been given care is made up of 11 people from AGuascalientes that had not had access to food in recent days.
These people are in Cusco and, according to the ambassador, they have already been provided with food and guaranteed lodging.
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Original source in Spanish

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