Wednesday 30 October 2013

Honduras and the American Way

In Washington, under the federal Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act (CPIA), the Cultural Property Advisory Committee CPAC today will consider the renewal of the United States-Honduras Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). This restricts American imports of at-risk cultural property from the Central American nation to those with the proper paperwork. Not all want to see such material without the proper paperwork kept off the US market, there is opposition to the current request by the advocateds of US collectors and dealers (Rick St Hilaire, 'Honduras MoU Renewal Attracts Comments Ahead of Tomorrow's CPAC Meeting - Inclusion of Colonial and Republican Objects in Dispute', Cultural Property Lawyer Rick St Hilaire, Tuesday, October 29, 2013). St Hilaire specifically mentions Arthur Houghton and the AAMD:
The group [...] questioned "whether there is a demonstrated need for such protection," asking "If the United States is not a market, how can the imposition of U.S. import restrictions, even if done in concert with others, be of 'substantial benefit in deterring pillage?'"
I really do not see how anyone in seriousness could deny that the US is a major and voracious buyer of all manner of cultural property from all over the world. In nay case restricting sales there to items with the proper paperwork is surely doing the licit side of the US market any harm. Loud protests like this from US collectors and their organizations are doing nothing to protect America's already tarnished image abroad. They are undermining America's soft power capabilities in the region and beyond.

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