United States and Guatemala Extend Memorandum of Understanding to Protect the Cultural Heritage of Guatemala

Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
September 28, 2012

The Department of State is pleased to announce the extension and amendment of the Memorandum of Understanding Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Republic of Guatemala Concerning the Imposition of Import Restrictions on Archaeological Material from the Pre-Columbian Cultures and Ecclesiastical Ethnological Material from the Conquest and Colonial Periods of Guatemala, effective September 29, 2012 for a period of five years. This extension and amendment, consistent with a recommendation made by the Cultural Property Advisory Committee, represents a continuation of cooperation that began in 1991 with the imposition of emergency U.S. import restrictions to staunch the pillage of Guatemala’s rich archaeological heritage and the illicit trafficking in such material. This Memorandum of Understanding also serves to underscore the United States’ recognition of the threat of plunder and despoiling of Guatemala’s ecclesiastical ethnological cultural heritage and our commitment to cultural heritage preservation.

The Government of the Republic of Guatemala requested this agreement under 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. The Convention offers a framework of cooperation among State Parties to reduce the further pillage of intact archaeological sites and ethnological objects; an activity that destroys information about past cultures and places a nation’s cultural heritage in jeopardy. Pre-Columbian cultural heritage, as well as that of the Conquest and Colonial Periods of Guatemala, is now protected under the Memorandum of Understanding.

Restricted objects may enter the United States if accompanied by an export permit issued by Guatemala or documentation verifying its provenance prior to 1991 for archaeological material from the Peten Region, prior to 1997 for all Pre-Columbian archaeological material, or prior to 2012 for ecclesiastical ethnological material; and if no other applicable U.S. laws are violated. The Designated List of restricted types of objects, published by Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), and information about the Agreement can be found at http://exchanges.state.gov/heritage/culprop/gtfact.html

PRN: 2012/1563