Miami first responder says he’s stranded in Peru with around 200 American citizens

MIAMI – A first responder from South Florida says he is stranded abroad and is worried he may not be home for the holidays.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Capt. Brian Vega told Local 10 News’ Christina Vazquez he is stranded with upwards of 200 other American citizens in a town near Machu Picchu in Peru.

There has been unrest in Peru following the arrest of former President Pedro Castillo.

Train service has been suspended and the country declared a state of emergency Wednesday as Castillo’s supporters have violently taken to the streets.

“From what I understand, the rest of the country is not doing too well,” Vega said. “They’re rioting, burning things down.”

Vega said local authorities don’t even know if they can get him out before Christmas. He has a wife and two young children at home.

“The only way into this town is via train and from what I understand, they’ve disassembled train tracks and protestors are also blocking the train line,” he said.

Vega said he is speaking out because he is hoping U.S. lawmakers can work to airlift them out since train service is suspended. He also said he wanted to bring attention to the situation overall.

“Hopefully they could help us out somehow and get us back safe to the United States to see our friends and family,” he said.

Local 10 News reached out to Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava regarding Vega, and her officer responded with the following statement:

“It came to our attention earlier today that a Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Captain is traveling in Peru and is now unable to leave Aguas Calientes – the town at the foot of Machu Picchu – due to protests that are obstructing train travel. We reached out to the White House to ask for the assistance of the administration in helping Captain Vega and any other American travelers in Peru safely return to the United States.”

Brian Vega in Peru (Brian Vega)

About the Authors:

Christina returned to Local 10 in 2019 as a reporter after covering Hurricane Dorian for the station. She is an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist and previously earned an Emmy Award while at WPLG for her investigative consumer protection segment "Call Christina."

David Dwork joined the WPLG Local 10 News team in August 2019. Born and raised in Miami-Dade County, David has covered South Florida sports since 2007.