Peru’s Ruins Highlight Battle Between Tourism And Conservation

April 28, 2011 8:00 am 0 comments

Excavations revealed a vivid picture of a powerful civilization. The Moche are best known for their heavily stylized ceramics and friezes, with intricate depictions of a complex spiritualism, underpinned by intriguing and often brutal ceremonial practices celebrating war, conquest, human sacrifice and eroticism.

Friezes uncovered in a 175-metre long ceremonial plaza include characters known as the Beheading Spider, the Mythical Being and the God of the Mountains, all three of which feature severed heads to emphasize how central human sacrifice was to the Moche way of life. At ground level is one frieze showing a continuous march of triumphant warriors and their unfortunate prisoners, bound by the neck as they are led to a certain death at the hands of the high priests.

Despite Gamarra’s work, threats remain, including the prospect of mass tourism.

“We are now fighting the regional government which wants to develop the road to this site to encourage tourism. In Machu Picchu you have people walking over and eroding original stone. We’re not ready for that level of tourism here,” he said.

What he does welcome, and actively promotes, are visits from enthusiasts and other interested travellers, who can help promote his cause in the unequal battle against the ongoing destruction of Peru’s archaeological heritage. Gamarra gives personal tours through a specialist agency called Aracari, but beyond that the director is quiet on the benefits that mass tourism brings to vulnerable sites like his.

His project accommodates around 120,000 visitors a year, mostly from the United States and Germany. Fewer than 30 percent are Peruvian. Gamarra wants to cap the number as his team continues with the task of investigating the 250-acre site, gradually piecing together the remaining fragments of an ancient world.

Gamarra has run into opposition for his strict stance on tourism.

A small market outside the site’s main gates does a swift trade in replica ceramics, based on items recovered from within the ruins. Jesus García, a professional artisan fires and paints his ceramics by hand, which he can sell to visitors for 10 Peruvian soles (about $3).

“The tourists bring in money, they pay for the workers, services, restaurants, hotels. There are more people for us to sell to. Before, the huaqueros took things to sell, for necessity, for work. Now it’s illegal and anyway, we don’t need it,” García said.

Image: Photo by lanz @ Flickr.

Pages: 1 2

No Comments

Leave a Reply


Other News

  • Central America El Salvador Mexico News Briefs North America As The World Looks To Mexico, News From Another Massacre Goes Unnoticed

    As The World Looks To Mexico, News From Another Massacre Goes Unnoticed

    The world has been focusing for almost two months on the disappearance and reported killing of 43 Mexican students by a drug gang — an act in which government forces played a major role. In the midst of the public outrage surrounding the students’ disappearance, news of another famous massacre by state forces in Central America passed unnoticed. “I am sorry,” the former Salvadoran ambassador to the U.S., Ernesto Rivas Gallont, wrote in a blog post published Oct. 31. He […]

    Read more →
  • Andes Colombia Today in Latin America FARC to Release First Captives, But Warns Over General’s Release

    FARC to Release First Captives, But Warns Over General’s Release

    Top Story — FARC rebels will release two hostages on Tuesday morning, according to a statement issued from Havana by delegates representing the guerrilla group. The release of Gen. Rubén Darío Alzate, the highest-ranking FARC captive in 50 years, is planned for Thursday. However, the statement from Havana warned that the general’s release may be cancelled, owing to the heavy military presence in the province where he is being held. Tuesday’s handover of Pvts. Paulo César Rivera and Jonathan Andrés […]

    Read more →
  • Mexico North America Today in Latin America Fugitive Police Official Captured Over Mexican Students’ Disappearance

    Fugitive Police Official Captured Over Mexican Students’ Disappearance

    Top Story — The former deputy police chief of Cocula, Guerrero, has been arrested in connection with the disappearance of 43 students from nearby Iguala, the Mexican Attorney General’s Office announced on Friday. César Nava González had been on the run since Sept. 26 — the night of the students’ disappearance — and was apprehended on Nov. 16. According to the attorney general’s office, Nava González went into hiding in Mexico City, and then in the city of Colima. He […]

    Read more →
  • North America Today in Latin America United States Sidestepping Congress, Obama Unveils Plan To Protect 5 Million From Deportation

    Sidestepping Congress, Obama Unveils Plan To Protect 5 Million From Deportation

    Top Story — U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday unveiled a three-part executive order on immigration that would protect up to five million undocumented immigrants from deportation, sidestepping a year of gridlock over immigration reform in the Republican-led House of Representatives. The president’s plan, presented in a fifteen-minute speech, would also expand border enforcement and facilitate legal immigration for skilled immigrants. Obama stressed that while the nearly five million undocumented immigrants affected would be allowed to register and legally seek […]

    Read more →
  • Central America Honduras Today in Latin America Missing Beauty Queen, Sister, Found Dead in Honduras

    Missing Beauty Queen, Sister, Found Dead in Honduras

    Top Story — The bodies of reigning Miss Honduras María José Alvarado, 19, and her sister Sofía, 23, were found in a riverbank grave in an area west of the capital city, Tegucigalpa, police announced Wednesday. Since the sisters went missing on Nov. 13, their disappearance has become national news in the country with the world’s highest peacetime murder rate. Sofía Alvarado’s boyfriend, Plutarco Ruiz, has been arrested and is considered the main suspect in the killings. Aris Maldonado, an […]

    Read more →
  • Andes Colombia News Briefs North America Colombian Government and FARC Agree on Process to Free Kidnapped General

    Colombian Government and FARC Agree on Process to Free Kidnapped General

    An agreement has been reached between FARC rebels and the Colombia government on steps to release Gen. Rubén Darío Alzate, according to a statement released by the Cuban and Norwegian governments, which were involved in brokering the deal. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has suspended two-year-old peace talks with the FARC in the wake of Alzate’s capture, insisting that the talks would not resume until Alzate was returned. Alzate, who is the the highest-ranking officer to be taken by the […]

    Read more →
  • Mexico North America Today in Latin America Peña Nieto Says Protesters Seek To Destabilize Mexico

    Peña Nieto Says Protesters Seek To Destabilize Mexico

    Top Story — Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto on Tuesday accused “violent movements” of taking advantage of anger over the September disappearance of 43 students to sow unrest as discontent over the issue shows no sign of abating. His remarks come as pressure builds over the missing students from the rural Ayotzinapa teacher training school in Guerrero state, who officials recently said corrupt local police arrested and turned over to a drug gang, which killed them and incinerated their bodies. […]

    Read more →
  • Andes Peru Today in Latin America Report Highlights Activist Murders in Peru Ahead of Lima Climate Talks

    Report Highlights Activist Murders in Peru Ahead of Lima Climate Talks

    Top Story — Just two weeks before the U.N. Climate Change Conference begins in Lima, Peru, nonprofit Global Witness has released a widely publicized report naming the country the fourth deadliest in the world to be an environmental or land activist. Since 2002, 57 activists have been killed in Peru, more than half of them in the last four years. Peru is facing international scrutiny due to the slow pace of an investigation into the Aug. 31 killing of four […]

    Read more →
  • Brazil Southern Cone Today in Latin America Brazil Arrests 27 in Petrobras Corruption Scandal

    Brazil Arrests 27 in Petrobras Corruption Scandal

    Top Story — Brazilian authorities on Friday arrested 27 people in connection with an investigation into a multibillion-dollar corruption scheme at the state-run oil company Petrobras. Among the 27 was the firm’s engineering director, the second senior executive to be arrested in connection with the scandal. Following the arrests, President Dilma Rousseff said that the “symbolic case” would change Brazilian society forever. Rousseff served as energy minister under her predecessor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. The investigation began when a […]

    Read more →
  • Colombia News Briefs Colombia Suspends Peace Talks Over General’s Apparent Kidnapping

    Colombia Suspends Peace Talks Over General’s Apparent Kidnapping

    Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has suspended the government’s peace talks with FARC guerrillas after the group’s apparent detention of an army general, jeopardizing the future of the negotiations at a key moment. General Rubén Darío Alzate and two others reportedly went missing in the rebel-dominated northern province of Chocó. The president has said that all signs point to FARC, and that he expects the group to release the three before continuing with negotiations. The FARC, however, have not confirmed […]

    Read more →