United States and Peru Extend Agreement to Protect Peruvian Heritage

Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
June 8, 2012

The 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 Peru Concerning the Imposition of Import Restrictions on Archaeological Material from the Pre-Hispanic Cultures and Certain Ethnological Material from the Colonial Period of Peru” (MOU). The Department of Homeland Security has published notification of the extended restrictions in the Federal Register, effective June 9, 2012.

The MOU covers archaeological remains of ancient cultures - such as the Chavin, Moche, Cuzco, Incas - that developed in Peru from 12,000 B.C. to A.D. 1532. Their achievements include the construction of city complexes; advances in metallurgy; the production of textiles, gold and silver jewelry, and unique styles of polychrome ceramic vessels. They are a reminder that the accomplishments of these ancient cultures are among the most important in the history of mankind. The MOU also protects ethnological material produced during the Colonial period (A.D. 1532-1821) such as sculpture and paintings with stylistically distinct iconography.

This MOU, in effect since 1997, is possible under U.S. legislation that implements the UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, a framework of cooperation to stem pillage and unauthorized transport of cultural objects across boundaries. Systematic pillage of archaeological sites in Peru and removal of ecclesiastical ethnological material has caused irreparable loss to Peruvian history and tradition. Their protection promotes alternative approaches to accessing this material for cultural, educational, and scientific purposes and offers Peru the opportunity to develop long-term solutions for safeguarding its unique ancient past.

By extending this MOU, the United States demonstrates its continued respect for the extraordinary cultural heritage of Peru. The restricted objects may enter the United States if accompanied with an export permit issued by the government of Peru or documentation of its provenance prior to 1997 and if no other applicable U.S. laws are violated. Further information about the MOU can be found at http://exchanges.state.gov/heritage/culprop/pefact.html.

The extension is consistent with a recommendation made by the Cultural Property Advisory Committee to the Assistant Secretary for Educational and Cultural Affairs of the Department of State, to whom the President’s decision-making authority on these matters is delegated. The Committee is a presidentially-appointed body established to make recommendations to the Department concerning cultural property agreements.

This MOU follows on emergency protection that entered into force in 1990 to reduce the threat of pillage of Moche artifacts newly found at the royal tombs of Sipan, Peru. Protection of the Sipan material was incorporated into the MOU in 1997 and continues in effect.

PRN: 2012/921