Trump says US military to help Americans stuck in Peru get home

Trump says US military to help Americans stuck in Peru get home
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpSanders says he wouldn't 'drop dead' if Trump decided on universal healthcare Overnight Health Care: Trump officials lay groundwork for May reopening | Democrats ramp up talks with Mnuchin on next relief deal | Fauci says death toll could be around 60,000 Hillicon Valley: State officials push for more election funds | Coronavirus surveillance concerns ramp up pressure for privacy bill | Senators warned not to use Zoom | Agencies ask FCC to revoke China Telecom's license MORE on Thursday said the military is helping to get Americans stuck in Peru back to the U.S., as more than 1,400 U.S. citizens remain stuck in the country under a strict quarantine to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

"We have a group of young people in Peru and we’re working on taking care of that with the military,” the president said in a press briefing at the White House.

The president said the efforts are “not an evacuation” but that the U.S. is “trying to get them out.”

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The Peruvian government on Monday instituted a two-week quarantine across the country, closing all land, sea and airports. Americans traveling in the country say they received last-minute notification, had flights canceled without notice and were unable to rebook flights.

The more than 1,400 Americans in the country have organized over social media and in a spreadsheet to raise awareness of their plight. Americans stuck in Peru who have spoken with The Hill say they’ve received little to no guidance from the U.S. embassy, which has told them to contact their airlines to reschedule flights and check the embassy website for updates.

Trump on Thursday said the Americans carry the blame for being stuck in the country, but pledged that the U.S. would help get them home.

“They got caught, they were late with their flights, we gave them a period of time, they didn’t make it, but we’re looking to get them out probably through the military.”

“They got caught, they were late with their flights, we gave them a period of time, they didn’t make it, but we’re looking to get them out probably through the military.”

But the Department of Defense says they have yet to receive any instructions.

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In response to an inquiry from The Hill, Department of Defense spokesman LTC Chris Mitchell said the agency had received no requests for assistance in connection with Peru and evacuating Americans there.

Jesse Curry, from Tampa, Fla., is in the port city of Lima, Peru with his wife, two children and 67-year-old mother.

He said he heard from a friend who is a flight attendant that all flights were being canceled shortly after the Peruvian government instituted the national emergency.

The U.S. Embassy in Peru sent out an advisory to Americans in the country on Thursday that South American airlines are collecting information in an effort to restart flights. 

 

“We tried pretty desperately to get on a flight for the family. We went through the airline we booked with, checked with all of the other airlines, looked at whether we’d be able to charter a plane to get to Panama. Nothing was available at all,” Curry told The Hill.

Americans in Morocco are also pleading with the U.S. government to help them get out of that country. The U.S. Embassy encouraged Americans to try booking flights on European carriers flying “emergency” flights to London. Yet Americans are posting on Twitter that they are unable to book the flights and that the airport is overcrowded.

The president on Thursday did not mention the Americans stuck in Morocco, nor other countries like Tunisia, Kuwait or Honduras where U.S. citizens stuck behind border closures have appealed for assistance.

“We have a group of young people, I think young men, or young people, could be women also with them, from Alabama, great state of Alabama, and they are in Peru,” the president said. “And we’re working on that right now. It’s a large group, it’s probably about 300.”

It’s unclear which group the president was referring to. At least six residents of Alabama are in a group of 20 medical professionals in the country on a mission trip. They are among the more than 1,400 Americans from 47 states, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., stuck in the country.

The president’s remarks acknowledging that the government is working to repatriate American citizens comes a day after Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Senate deadlocked on relief measures The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden vs. Trump as Sanders exits race GOP rep calls for US to bring international case against China over coronavirus MORE said in an interview that the State Department was "doing everything we can to protect American citizens all across the world."

“We know of students that are in Peru, some other travelers that are there as well,” he said in an interview with Fox News's Sean HannitySean Patrick HannityThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: Former Trump advisor Bossert says to test the well, not ill; Senate standoff on next relief bill Bill O'Reilly: Many of those dying from coronavirus 'were on their last legs anyway' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Americans with COVID-19 immunity may lead US back to work MORE. “There are other countries, too, where those countries have shut down their airports. We are working to try and solve problems for each of those American citizens. We just learned about them over the last couple days; it’ll take us some amount of time. But know that President Trump has made clear that we’re going to do everything we can to get every American home safely.”

Other countries have worked to evacuate their citizens since the borders closed. The Israeli government on Wednesday dispatched a commercial plane to evacuate Israelis stranded in Peru. Chile repatriated 200 of its citizens from Peru and Mexico sent flights to evacuate its citizens.

Senate Democrats on Wednesday sent a letter to Pompeo calling on the secretary to do more to assist Americans abroad and immediately inform Congress of the State Department's efforts.

“Providing support and assistance to Americans abroad and ensuring their safety and well-being are among the Department’s most fundamental responsibilities,” reads the letter, led by Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezHillicon Valley: Facebook launches portal for coronavirus information | EU sees spike in Russian misinformation on outbreak | Senate Dem bill would encourage mail-in voting | Lawmakers question safety of Google virus website Democratic senators press Google over privacy of coronavirus screening site Menendez calls for 'Marie Yovanovitch bill' to protect foreign service employees MORE (D-N.J.).