Monday 29 September 2014

My comment on El Salvador's MoU Extension Request

Santa Ana (Ilamatepec) Volcano,
El Salvador's highest peak 
I opened up the El Salvador MOU renewal docket here. (see PACHI Tuesday, 16 September 2014, 'CPAC: No Lunatic Comments This Time') and was saddened to see it was empty. Perhaps hundreds of people concerned about preserving the archaeological record of central America have sent comments and the DoS has not yet posted them up, we will see tomorrow. Anyway, I decided to do my bit to show solidarity with the smallest and most densely populated nation in Central America in their fight with smugglers and the US no-questions-asked market:
It is heartening to see this time, in contrast to many other recent public submissions to the CCPIA process, the relative lack of dealers and collectors attempting to defend their “rights” to profit from cultural property brought in from other countries without being required to document licit export.

The Republic of El Salvador was an early ratifier of the 1970 UNESCO Convention (February 1978) and has long attempted to take legislative and administrative measures consistent with the Convention to protect its cultural patrimony. Obviously, in the very fact that it has asked the good people of the USA to help it continue to regulate the outgoing trade in certain categories of archaeological material from its Prehispanic cultures, El Salvador regards its cultural patrimony to be in jeopardy from pillage and illegal transfer of ownership. Who would want to deny them, on what grounds and by what right?

It would therefore be only proper for the US to continue to apply import restrictions in accordance with the CCPIA with respect to this archaeological material for as long as is necessary. This would be in line with those measures already automatically applied by all other countries who are States party to the 1970 Convention (Art 1-26). This would be of substantial benefit in deterring any cultural racketeering, pillage, and smuggling of such artefacts, which is consistent with the general interest of the international community.

It is only a shame that the US, almost alone among the 127 States Party to the Convention, implements the 1970 Convention so selectively and at the same time subjects fellow States Parties to this humiliating process of remote assessment by a Washington committee. Please agree to El Salvador's request.

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