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Former Fredonia Woman Stuck In Peru As Virus Spreads

A woman who grew up in Fredonia is one of hundreds who are trying to get back to the mainland of the United States from Peru.

In an email to the OBSERVER newspaper on Friday, 32-year-old Jessica Gee Nosworthy outlined her frustrations and concerns while being in the northwestern South American country.

“I have been in Peru for several days,” she wrote in the email. “After I got here things spiraled quite quickly in the U.S., and we’ve been following the news anxiously. Things in Peru have been business as usual until Monday morning.

“Sunday evening around 7 p.m. the Peruvian president announced that Peru was going to close its land, air, and sea borders and enact a complete lockdown at midnight due to COVID19. No movement anywhere within the country, not from city to city, nowhere, a mandatory quarantine for 15 days, with police and the military enforcing this.

“So from Sunday evening I have been frantically trying to find a way back to the States. With maybe 16 hours to get out of the country before the midnight deadline.

“I went to the international airport in Lima and attempted to beg my way onto a flight for 16 hours, but 1000’s of other people had the same idea. All the flights were full and the airlines were not selling tickets. Armed military guards were present in full riot gear trying to keep panicked passengers calm but they were unsuccessful. Hopeless locals and foreigners alike began rioting at the airline ticket counters which escalated to many physical assaults and terrifying chaos.

“I am still in Lima, stuck like 1,600 of other Americans across Peru. We’ve been calling the airlines and holding for hours to talk to someone and there is nothing until after May 4, and even that isn’t definite.

“I’ve called and emailed the U.S. Embassy, and they won’t even pick up the phone, not even when you press the number for emergencies such as death or arrests (I tried). The information they have on their website and send via email is just a regurgitation of what the Peruvian government is saying. There is little information or advice for American citizens stuck here, except to tell us to call the airlines to reschedule our flights and to find somewhere to stay for the next two weeks. This is unacceptable.

“iPeru, the Peruvian tourist information organization has been more proactive, responding to our requests, collecting our information to pass on to the embassy, hoping that our embassy will take action.

“People need to get back to their jobs, their loved ones.”

Our own government representative here telling us to just hang tight and hunker down is not helpful. Most people do not have unlimited funds to be able to do that. Many have already lost money on flights, booked hotels, etc. We have elderly and ill parents to whom we need to return.

“Moreover, there are people stuck here who are more vulnerable than others-pregnant women, elderly people. How does just asking them to hang tight for the period of the quarantine helpful? Also, it is not clear that once this period is over the quarantine will be lifted.

“The U.S. government needs to do more to help get American citizens back home. I’ve heard that other countries are already talking with the Peruvian government to get their citizens back home. Mexico is sending a charter plane to bring back its citizens. Canada and Israel are working with the Peruvian government to get their citizens back. Why isn’t our government doing the same?

“It was appalling to watch the news coverage of our ‘fearless leader’ blaming Americans for being stuck in Peru. As of Friday, March 13, 2020 there was zero areas affected by the virus in the country of Peru. Everything virtually changed overnight upon the president’s announcement. Thousands of people immediately rushed to the airports with little to no chance of obtaining a flight.

“Conditions here in Lima are deteriorating. No movement is allowed on the streets unless going to the grocery store, and even then the citizens are harassed by armed military that are stationed on every corner. Police officers have been going around to all of the hotels and hostels and informing the staff that they are required to quarantine all of the guests inside of their rooms. There is a very strict curfew from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. when no one can go into public for any reason without risk of being detained. There is a continuous supply of military helicopters patrolling from the air as well as guards on foot. It is only day 4 of the lock down and each day the military and police officers are becoming more aggressive.

In the cover of our American passports it states, “The secretary of State of the United States of America hereby requests all whom it may concern permit the citizen/national of the United States named herein to pass without delay or hinderance and in case of need to give all lawful aid and protection.” We have rights that are being violated! Where is our aid and protection?

“In this age of social media, perhaps sharing this will accomplish something. As a fairly private person, this is my reason for posting this. Please feel free to share this. I’m hoping someone who can do something about this will see posts like this about Americans being stuck in Peru and do something to bring us back to the U.S.

Nosworthy is asking residents here to contact their congressmen, the State Department, the consulate, the embassy or to just share with others. “There are people all over Peru, some in unsafe and uncertain conditions, and they need to go back home,” she said.

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