Belize, U.S. sign MOU on cultural heritage

vlcsnap-2013-02-27-18h40m44s151Belize, U.S. sign MOU on cultural heritage. Belize has lost many historical artefacts from our Maya temples and elsewhere, often due to common thievery. Today, Belize and the United States agreed to cooperate to do something about it. The U.S. has agreed to restrict imports of antiquities belonging to Belize in the same way it does with those of Guatemala, El Salvador and other countries. U.S. Ambassador Vinai Thummalapally speaks of why thieves will no longer get away with national treasures:

Vinai Thummalapally – U.S. Ambassador:
vlcsnap-2013-02-28-06h45m57s21What our MOU represents is much more important than its lengthy title.  The MOU demonstrates that the United States is committed to combating the looting and trafficking of cultural property of Belize, just as it is all around the world. As they say, it’s the market that you have to address.  If you can address the market, and keep people from buying stolen goods, that’s how you make progress towards preventing from stealing in the first place.

According to Tourism Minister Manuel Heredia, Belize has the most comprehensive antiquities law in the world and a far reaching cultural management plan, but so far has not been able to put a stop to the pilfering. With the U.S. on board, he says, that will change.

Vinai Thummalapally – U.S. Ambassador:
It was clear to us that US import restrictions could not only help to reduce the economic incentives for the importation of Belizean artifacts, but was also help to preserve the conservation and protection of sites, by complementing and strengthening the effectiveness of existing Belizean laws.  The document that we have signed today, therefore, matched the combination of our efforts to establish exactly certain agreement with the United States Government. By signing the Agreement, the US agrees to impose legal restrictions on the importation of Archeological and Ethnographic materials representing the indigenous cultures of Belize.

And the Ambassador underlined the importance of the MOU to both countries:

Vinai Thummalapally – U.S. Ambassador:
By entering into this agreement today, the MOU will empower our US law enforcement officials to impose import restrictions on categories of Belizean Cultural property destined for the United States, recover objects and return them to Belize.In addition, the MOU provides for a number of activities that each country will undertake, independently and in collaboration, to work to protect and preserve the Cultural Heritage of Belize.

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