Prominent Welsh language campaigners stuck in South America as military take to streets to halt coronavirus outbreak
Prominent Welsh language campaigners Ffred and Meinir Ffransis are unable to leave South America after a government clampdown due to the coronavirus outbreak.
After arriving in the city of Cusco in southeastern Peru on Sunday after holidaying in Argentina they were told that flights out of the country had been cancelled.
The 71 and 69-year-old husband and wife from Llanfihangel-ar-Arth in Carmarthenshire were told by the British Embassy in Peru that they needed to leave the country by midnight last night, but could not do so.
Now their family fear that they could be stuck in the country for up to six weeks and are calling on the government to do more to bring them home.
Both Ffred and Meinir Ffransis are prominent members of Cymdeithas yr Iaith and served numerous jail sentences between them since the 1970s while campaigning for recognition for the Welsh language.
Before retirement, they operated an online shop called Cadwyn and their stand was regularly seen at major events such as the National Eisteddfod.
Peru’s government deployed masked military personnel to block major roads in Lima on Monday, while police restricted the movement of people as the country rolled out a state of enforced “social isolation” to slow the spread of coronavirus.
Peruvian President Martín Vizcarra on Sunday night announced a 15-day state of emergency amid the total closure of the country’s border. Peru has 86 confirmed cases.
Ffred Ffransis said there were military on the streets and that he needed permission to go out to find food, and that they had been told to stay indoors for at least two weeks.
Writing on Facebook, Ffred Ffransis said he feared that the coronavirus pandemic would lead to an authoritarian government in the UK.
“Leaders like Boris Johnson want to appear strong but have done no preparation work,” Ffred Ffransis said. “It’s characteristic of a government full of bluster but which has no principles or common sense.
“And such a crisis there is a unique opportunity for a British state to capture powers back from Cardiff and Edinburgh ‘for the good of the people’.
“At a time when cultural and humanitarian communities are under pressure, this is a blow. Let’s not think that the Boris State will give up forces when the Corona crisis is over.
“There is a danger of a new dark age, and everyone will be afraid to challenge this because of the real problem of the disease.”