Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Privatize Copan?

That's effectively what sources in Honduras say is under serious discussion at this very minute.

They have provided us with a copy of a document dated June 8, 2011, issued by the Union of employees of the Instituto Hondureño de Antropología e Historia.

The statement is motivated by news that "private individuals with partisan ambitions intend to restructure the IHAH"... and "place in danger the Cultural Patrimony of the nation".

They reiterate the charge that the current head of IHAH has hired unqualified people for political motives, objecting that IHAH, with its unique mission, "should not be handled as if it were an employment agency for private individuals and/or political agreements."

Then comes the punchline:
By means of official information we know that today there will be submitted for discussion in the National Congress a project that includes as one of its points the sale of entry tickets to the Parque Arqueológico de Copán by the municipality of Copán Ruinas, a situation contrary to the survival of the Instituto Hondureño de Antropología e Historia, since the funds obtained from this park are those that sustain the labor of protection and conservation of the Cultural Patrimony of Honduras.

Based on details published by Darío Euraque in his book, El golpe de Estado del 28 de junio de 2009, el Patrimonio Cultural y la Identidad Nacional provides income critical for the Institute in pursuing its mission. Transferring that income to the town of Copan is a shocking proposal on many levels.

It would presumably leave the IHAH with the responsibility for management and preservation of the site, without the resources needed to do so.

It would turn this World Heritage Site into nothing more than a money-making tourist attraction. While it may shock international readers who enjoyed visiting Copan, the purpose of the Institute of Anthropology and History is to manage historic sites as points of reference for the population of Honduras in their understanding of their history, heritage, and identity.

And of course, it is the ultimate demonstration-- both in the sense of most recent and most unimaginable-- of an erosion of the management of cultural patrimony that started when the de facto regime of Roberto Micheletti politicized the Ministry of Culture and the Institute in particular.

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