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 You are in: Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs: Press Relations Office > Press Releases (Other) > 2006 > December
Media Note
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
December 5, 2006


United States and Bolivia Extend Cultural Property Protection Agreement

The Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Republic of Bolivia extended for an additional five year period a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) protecting Pre-Columbian archaeological materials and Colonial and Republican ethnological materials from Bolivia. This extension is consistent with a recommendation of the Cultural Property Advisory Committee.

This MOU originally entered into force on December 4, 2001, pursuant to a request from the Government of the Republic of Bolivia under Article 9 of the 1970 UNESCO Convention concerning the protection of cultural property. The United States found the cultural heritage of Bolivia to be in jeopardy from pillage and agreed to impose import restrictions on certain categories of material. The aim is to decrease the incentive to pillage thereby providing a measure of protection to sites and artifacts that are important for understanding Bolivian culture and for preserving traditional religious practices.

Pre-Columbian culture in Bolivia is considered to have attained a high degree of technological, agricultural, and artistic achievement. Without more scientific study, however, this culture remains poorly understood. The archaeological sites and materials necessary to reconstruct the early history of Bolivia continue to be vulnerable to widespread pillage that systematically destroys this non-renewable record of human development. Colonial and Republican period ethnological materials also are found to be subject to pillage. Vested with symbolic and historic meaning, these objects play an irreplaceable role in indigenous Bolivian communities. The masks, textiles, and ecclesiastical objects associated with religious ritual serve as marks of identity and are testimony to the continuity of Pre-Columbian cultural elements in contemporary Bolivia. They form an emblem of national pride in a society that is largely indigenous.

The Department of Homeland Security promulgated a list of categories of objects subject to the import restrictions. This list and an accompanying image database may be found at http://exchanges.state.gov/culprop. Restricted archaeological materials range in date from approximately 10,000 B.C. to A.D. 1532, and include objects comprising ceramics, textiles and feather work, metals, stone, shell, human remains, bone, wood and basketry. Restricted ethnological materials range in date from A.D. 1533 to 1900 (Colonial and Republican Periods), and include: 1) objects of indigenous manufacture and ritual use related to the pre-Columbian past, and may include masks, wood, musical instruments, textiles, feather work, ceramics; and 2) objects used for rituals and religious ceremonies including Colonial religious art, such as paintings and sculpture, reliquaries, altars, altar objects, and liturgical vestments.

2006/1091

Released on December 5, 2006

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