Police stand guard behind a barricade they created, the day after protests against President Dina Boluarte in Andahuaylas, Peru, Monday, Dec. 12, 2022. Peru's Congress voted to remove President Pedro Castillo from office Wednesday and replace him with the vice president, Boluarte, shortly after Castillo tried to dissolve the legislature ahead of a scheduled vote to remove him. Credit: Franklin Briceno / AP

Bangor High School canceled a planned student trip to Peru amid growing political unrest and increased criminal activity sparked by the former president’s attempts to dissolve Congress to avoid impeachment on corruption charges and his subsequent removal and arrest

Stephanie Hendrix, the trip coordinator and an English teacher at Bangor High School, made the announcement to students and their families last week when the U.S. State Department issued a Level 3 Travel Advisory for Peru. 

Students then selected a new destination: Portugal and Spain, with stops in Lisbon, Seville and Madrid. 

The State Department advisory, the second-highest the department issues, urges U.S. travelers to “reconsider travel” to Peru based on widespread criminal activity, including “petty theft, carjackings, muggings, assaults, and other violent crime.” 

The State Department notes crimes “can occur during daylight hours despite the presence of many witnesses and the risk of crime increases at night.” Reports of organized criminal groups using roadblocks to rob victims in areas outside Lima have also surfaced. 

“As a result of this information, I have decided it is best for our group to reschedule our travel to a different location at the same time,” Hendrix wrote to families. “While I am so sad that we will not be jetting off to Peru, I am still determined to give you all the travel experience you enrolled for and to give you something to look forward to.” 

Students chose the new Portugal and Spain designation through ranked-choice voting, Hendrix said. The new trip, as with the previous plan, will run from April 15-25. 

The new 10-day excursion, offered by EF Tours, a U.S. school touring company, includes guided tours through the cities with local experts, visits to famous museums and churches, and a Flamenco dance lesson followed by a show. 

Many of the students who had signed up for the Peru trip have chosen to travel to Portugal and Spain, Hendrix said. 

“We all want to see more of the world, but we want to do it as safely as possible, and safety is the No. 1 priority,” she said. 

Hendrix will hold an informational meeting this week for families regarding the change and a potential cost difference between the two itineraries. 

Correction: An earlier version of this story contained an incorrect spelling of Stephanie Hendrix’s last name.

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Kathleen O'Brien

Kathleen O'Brien is a reporter covering the Bangor area. Born and raised in Portland, she joined the Bangor Daily News in 2022 after working as a Bath-area reporter at The Times Record. She graduated from...