United States and El Salvador Extend Agreement to Protect Archaeological Heritage of El Salvador

Media Note
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
March 8, 2010

The U.S. Department of State is pleased to announce the extension of the Memorandum of Understanding Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Republic of El Salvador Concerning the Imposition of Import Restrictions on Certain Categories of Archaeological Material from the Pre-Hispanic Cultures of the Republic of El Salvador. The U.S. Embassy in San Salvador and the Ministry of Foreign of Affairs of El Salvador exchanged diplomatic notes to extend the agreement and the Department of Homeland Security has published notification of the extended restrictions in the Federal Register. By extending this agreement, the United States demonstrates its continued respect for the cultural heritage of El Salvador and concern for the irretrievable loss of information about human history.

Effective March 8, 2010, this extension represents a continuation of cooperation that began in 1995 when El Salvador requested assistance from the United States pursuant to Article 9 of the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. Recognizing that certain of El Salvador’s heritage remains in jeopardy from pillage, the agreement enables the continued imposition of import restrictions on certain categories of archaeological material ranging in date from approximately 8000 B.C. to approximately 1550 A.D., including objects made of ceramic, metal, and stone. In 2009, the Department of Homeland Security recovered such material upon importation into the United States, including ceramic vessels and musical instruments dating to A.D. 300 to 900. These will be repatriated to Salvadoran authorities.

The agreement also calls upon both governments to encourage academic institutions, nongovernmental organizations, and other private entities to cooperate in the exchange of knowledge and information about the cultural patrimony of El Salvador, and to collaborate in its preservation and protection.

The Department of Homeland Security first published a Designated List of restricted categories of objects in the Federal Register in March 1995. The restricted objects may legally enter the United States only if accompanied by an export permit issued by the Government of the Republic of El Salvador or documentation verifying the objects’ provenance prior to 1995, and if no other applicable U.S. laws are violated. The Designated List and information about the agreement are at http://exchanges.state.gov/heritage/culprop/esfact.html.

The extension is consistent with recommendations of the Cultural Property Advisory Committee to the Department of State. The Committee is a presidentially appointed body established to make findings and recommendations to the Department on these matters.

Media Contact: Catherine Stearns, 202-632-6437 and StearnsCL@State.gov

PRN: 2010/272