Thursday 28 February 2013

Belize MOU

Belize is no longer an unwilling loophole for illegal antiquities smuggling in the Maya region  (SAFE, "MOU between the US and Belize Closes Loophole" Feb 28th 2013). See also Rick St Hilaire ("U.S.-Belize MoU Signed") and the local news coverage (7newsbelize, "US Will Prosecute Stolen Bze Artifacts" February 27, 2013). The quote by H. E. Vinai Thumalapally - US Ambassador to Belize is noteworthy:
"The MOU demonstrates that the United States is committed to combating the looting and trafficking of cultural property of Belize, just as it is all around the world. As they say, it's the market that you have to address. If you can address the market, protect it, and keep people from buying stolen goods, that's how you make progress towards preventing from stealing in the first place". 
This is something those Black Hat and Black Hearted collectors and dealers opposing such import regulations cannot get their heads around, these import regulations are keeping smuggled goods off the market, protecting consumers. They should note that the USA is far from being alone in instituting such measures, all of the other countries which are State Parties (together with Belize) to the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Cultural Property have already (by becoming parties to it) to do that. It is time for the US to look again at the principles behind its selective "cultural property protection programme" and consider whether they cannoty do much, much better than they do, considering that they are one of the primary markets for dugup cultural property from all over the world, not just a dozen or so countries.

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