MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Ancient petroglyphs and rock art in imminent danger, department of Puno, Peru

Published by MAC on 2007-07-16

Ancient petroglyphs and rock art in imminent danger, department of Puno, Peru

Lima

16th July 2007

To Mr. President of the Regional Government of Puno
Mr. Minster of Mining and Energy
Ms. Director of the National Institute of Culture

In the Southeast of Perú, over a hundred sites of ancient petroglyphs and rock art of high historical and artistic value are found in the districts of Macusani and Corani in the province of Carabya, in the department of Puno. These pieces of rock art constitute part of our natural heritage and extraordinary beauty. The campesino communities where the majority of these sites are located, call them Tantamaco and Isivilla.

The large concentration of these sites and their varied scenes showing the hunting of camelids, representations of humans and the use of different techniques of hunting and capturing of animals, as well as the extensive range of colors used in the paintings and the location of these sites at a high elevation (up to 4,600 meters), make them an important part of the heritage not only of Peruvians but of all humanity.

However, these sites are in imminent danger of being destroyed by mining activities. In the year 2005, several Canadian companies have begun prospecting activities in the region. The two largest companies are Frontier Pacific and Vena Resources, which have formed consortiums with smaller companies. Their exploration rights cover almost the entire territory of the two campesino communities in the districts of Macusani and Corani and with them, a large majority (90%) of the rock art sites in the region.

This situation has caused the World Monument Fund to consider these sites as one of the most threatened in the world in their most recent biannual list. It should be taken into account that the area comprised by the districts Macusani and Corani, an area of cultural heritage and spectacular natural landscapes, is in itself a historical heritage and permanent economic resource, which should foster tourism and environmental functions and generate throughout time greater economic benefits than short-term mining projects.

This is why we are seeking the protection and defense of such an important historical legacy in its status as Cultural Heritage of Peru, belonging to the Peruvian state. Its destruction would constitute a serious attack against our cultural patrimony.

* Signs on the spanish version...

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