Black Market for Latin American Cultural Heritage Revealed

Between 2008 and 2016, the main auction houses of Europe and the U.S. sold more than 7,000 items that are part of the archeological heritage of Peru.

Five investigative journalism teams have joined forces to bring to light the trafficking of cultural heritage items from Latin America. The group includes Ojo Publico from Peru, La Nacion from Costa Rica, Plaza Publica from Guatemala, Animal Politico from Mexico, and Chequeando from Argentina.

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Through collective work, the teams published several articles showing the multi-million-dollar business of illicit trafficking of cultural goods from Latin America to the U.S. and Europe. They also found that this type of trafficking had many identifiable operators but very few were prosecuted and most avoided justice through the use of legal loopholes.

The research was done by analyzing thousands of prosecuting documents, databases, direct sources and interviews of those prosecuted. The overall picture obtained from the research showed the routes that link the countries with the largest cultural heritages to the centers of international antique markets, ultimately ending up at some of the most well-known academic institutions and research centers in the world.

According to Ojo Publico, the “struggle against the crime has failed in many countries” and “proof of it is the freedom enjoyed by almost all those accused of the biggest cases of stealing, exporting, commerce, and possession of illegal pieces of art discovered in the last decades.” Ojo Publico also found that the number of Latin American pieces sold to collectors in the main capitals of the world is larger than the 4,907 cultural objects that the International Criminal Police Organization is looking for.

The portal Chequeando documented that Interpol lists Argentina with the most cultural goods reported as stolen totaling 2,816. Argentina is followed by Peru with 1,031, Ecuador with 556, Bolivia with 449, and Mexico with 320.

All 39,000 cultural pieces reported stolen to Interpol in the last 100 years from 132 countries were compiled by Ojo Publico in a web database. However, the research demonstrated that the reported items are only a fraction of the total. The database also revealed auction houses from 14 countries where stolen pieces are frequently sold.

The investigation showed the problem is complex. The business of trafficking cultural items has an ample number of actors including people with important political connections like Matteo Goretti who is a former advisor to Argentine President Mauricio Macri. Goretti is currently under investigation because 59 archeological pieces stolen from a museum in Cordoba, Argentina, were found at his home.

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Other people involved in trafficking of cultural goods are also being investigated for drug-trafficking. Such is the case with Guatemalan Raul Contreras. The day he was arrested, police found 12 paintings from colonial times and 12 religious figures. Eleven out of those were stolen six months before from the Fine Arts Foundation of Guatemala by an armed group and two more were stolen from Honduras.

Another group of people involved in the trafficking of these goods are famous collectors like Nestor Janier Aude. In Buenos Aires, he has one of the best-known and largest antique stores in Latin America. However, he has a large judicial file for cultural trafficking. He has not served any time in prison for trafficking despite the fact that the Argentine government found 4,000 objects belonging to pre-Colombian cultures in Peru and Ecuador at two of his previous stores. The legal battle to repatriate the objects took 15 years and Janier’s crimes expired before he could be sentenced.

The five research portals published many other case studies of people involved in the trafficking of cultural heritage. However, they stated that this is just the beginning of their investigations and they will continue publishing details on how the market works. 

  • Published in Culture

Cuban Intellectual Calls for Ideas to Stop Fascist Onslaught

Bolivia, Oct 11 (Prensa Latina) Cuban Intellectual and Culture Minister, Abel Prieto, convened to stop the fascist onslaught in Our America and the world promoting among young people the ideas of Marti, Che Guevara and the great liberators.

Speaking to Prensa Latina during the tributes to Che in this Bolivian city and La Higuera, where he was assassinated 49 years ago on instructions from the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, Prieto reflected on the current world situation.

Now, there is an attack against all progressive processes, and I think we need of paradigms, models that young people know of the history of our region, as Marti, Che, Bolivar and many others, who left a seed for future generations, he said.

Because we all know that the great project of the imperialism is that the contemporary youth keep busy on other more trivial things, and it is essential that those ideas remain in force, he said.

It is also essential that young cadres be trained as Bolivian Culture Minister, Marco Machicao, committed to the historical project of the great heroes of Our America, Prieto said.

He highlighted the recently concluded meeting of Culture Ministers from the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) in the Bolivian city of Santa Cruz and some of them were in Vallegrande to pay tribute to Ernesto Che Guevara.

The Cuban writer and leader stressed that the CELAC bill has much to do with Marti and Che. They were convinced that Our America and the Southern nations had to rise, creating two, three, many Vietnams.

Che was confident that, at short or long term, people would reach victory over imperialism, and that faith in victory, that tenacity and revolutionary stubbornness that is in Fidel and Raul Castro, Evo Morales and Hugo Chavez, have led our region to win an exceptional place in the world, he stressed. Prieto praised the role the Cuban Medical Brigade has played in many countries, those health collaborators have been here for 10 years with new waves of professionals and the same Guevara, revolutionary, Latin Americanist spirit, and they continue working to preserve these historic sites and defending Che's ideas.

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Uruguay's Pepe Mujica: 'Inequality Is the Enemy of Democracy'

"The biggest threat to democracy is the concentration of wealth in the hands of the few," said the former Uruguayan president.

Former President of Uruguay Jose Mujica said Latin America was the richest and at the same time the most unjust region in the world, and that all democracies should seek to end economic injustice, remarks that came during the third annual Latin American Summit of Progressive Movements Wednesday in Ecuador on Wednesday.

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"The biggest threat to democracy is the concentration of wealth in the hands of the few, and therefore the concentration of power," Mujica told an audience in the coastal city of Guayaquil.

Lenin Moreno, former vice president of Ecuador and the U.N.’s Special Envoy on Disability and Accessibility, greeted Mujica and recalled one of his most important sayings: "If you like money, don't go into politics. Keep making money, for that is not the fruit of politics."

According to “Pepe” Mujica, to achieve a socialist vision of an ideal society, governments need to fight for equality, not charity.

"We live in the most unequal and unjust continent in the world," said Mujica, now an Uruguayan senator. "We have so many debts to our people."

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Mujica said that people can’t live in an idealistic world, since there is a deep economic inequality in the region, and cited the example of the Mexican billionaire businessman Carlos Slim.

"The richest man in the world is from this continent. He would have to live 250 years, spending US$1 million a day, to spend it all," said Mujica.

Mujica said leftist parties and governments should not let the right-wing destroy everything for which they have fought.

“Inequality is the enemy of democracy,” said Mujica. Mujica called on progressive movements to find unity, since “without unity, we lose our strength.”

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Ecuador: Progressive Forces Analyze New Condor Plan and Ethics Pact

Quito, Sep 28 (Prensa Latina) ''Unveiling the new Condor Plan for Latin American Ethics Pact'', is the name of the 3rd Progressive Meeting ELAP 2016, which opened today in this capital, in the presence of representatives of parties and social movements throughout the world.

More than 80 political parties and organizations besides world and regional leaders attend the event, scheduled until next September 30 in the cities of Quito, Guayaquil and Montecristi.

Round tables, lectures and special days for local and subnational governments, as well for young people distinguish the event, which aims to be a forum for exchange and analysis among progressive people, on the reality of Latin America, its challenges and the social, economic and political perspectives of the area.

More than 80 movements and parties will attend the three days of debate, as the ruling party of Ecuador, Alianza País, and organizer of the event confirmed it.

The debates will seek to analyze the correlation of forces in the region, the main problems regarding the local and transnational opposition powers, as well as to reflect on the creation of the process called by Ecuadorian President, Rafael Correa, and the new Condor Plan.

It also seeks to consolidate a Latin American Ethics Pact against tax evasion, which destiny is the tax havens.

Among the personalities who will give lectures during the first day are the Ecuadorian president with the theme: The left wing and the economy in times of change, and the deputy head of the International Department of the Communist Party of China, Liu Hongcai, who will deliver the lecture: China and its relationship with Latin America in times of change.

Tomorrow is scheduled the participation of the member of the Central Committee of Communist Party of Cuba, Jose Ramon Balaguer, with the presentation: Central America and the Caribbean in the Latin American gained decade.

The Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodríguez will speak about the rethinking of the regional integration, sovereignty and development, while Argentina's former president, Cristina Fernandez, will dedicate her speech to the current situation in her country and the organization for victory.

Meanwhile, the discussions in Guayaquil contemplate speakers such as the Uruguayan Jose Mujica with the subject: Progressive Governments, evaluation and proposals.

At the same time will be held a meeting of the progressive youth in Montecristi, including tours in the Ciudad Alfaro, panel discussions on current topics and a solidarity day in a hostel of Portoviejo, the city severely damaged by the earthquake last April.

The 3rd Latin American Progressive Meeting closes on Friday 30th, in the Chapel of Man, a monument to humanity by the internationally recognized artist, Oswaldo Guayasamin.

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Cuba reaffirms its Level at Argentinian Philatelic Exhibition event

The Cuban philately showed its value when it achieved outstanding results at the International Philatelic Exhibition - Córdoba 2016t which was carried out in the cultural center from Córdova city in Argentina in which there were more than 450 related collections from 15 nations from the Latin American continent and Spain.

Humberto Vélez Blanco gained the gold medal and the special prize due to the unusual material of the Cuban collection on display: it was a stamping piece of paper. Moreover, this is the main award granted by the experienced exhibitor.

Joaquín Espinosa, on his part, also deserved the gold medal given the excellence of its collection about fiscal stamps of the colonial period.

Leonardo Palencia achieved the Vermeil medals by the collection entitled ´El Cohete postal cubano´ and ´Patriotas cubanos 1917´.

Among the young people, Elizabeth Losa, aged 16 only, achieved the apecial award of the youth category and the big Vermeil medal, which is the main related one for his age, due to his collection entitled´Las Flores deleite de la naturaleza.´

Likewise, Dayron Anier Giro and Brian Morera, aged 13 and 15, were granted the local Plata Grande medal due to their collections entitled´ El Agua, fuente de vida.´ and ´Los Vehículos, ruedan, corren, impactan,´respectively.

We should highlight that the Cuban President Philatelic President, José Raúl Lorenzo was the General Coordinator of the exhibition in his capacity as director of the Latin American Philatelic Federation.

The International Cordoba 2016 exhibition was organized by the Argentinian stamp collectors and it was an excellent opportunity for the exchange and fraternity among the stamp collectors from our mainland and Spain.

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Breakaway FARC Unit Opposes Peace Deal, Says It Will Not Disarm

"We have decided not to demobilize, we will continue the fight for the taking of power by the people for the people," the group said.

A unit of Colombia's FARC rebel group said on Wednesday that it will not lay down arms or demobilize under a potential peace deal with the government, the first public sign of opposition to an accord from within the rebel ranks that may set back efforts to end five decades of war.

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The statement by the Armando Rios First Front, a 200-strong guerrilla unit in the southeastern jungle province of Guaviare, comes after leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Colombian government announced a ceasefire deal on June 23, following more than three years of peace talks.

"We have decided not to demobilize, we will continue the fight for the taking of power by the people for the people, independent of the decision taken by the rest of the members of the organization," the unit said in a statement on Wednesday.

The unit, which famously held ex-presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt and three American contractors hostage, said the deals being reached at talks in Cuba will not solve the social and economic problems which first motivated the Marxist group to take up arms in 1964.

President Juan Manuel Santos has said the peace talks, aimed at ending a conflict which has killed more than 220,000 and displaced millions, may conclude as early as this month. Any deal will be put to Colombians for approval in a plebiscite vote.

Armando Rios First Front, which is known to have links to the drug trade, said it would respect any FARC rebels who agree to peace, but called on other units to join forces to continue the fight.

"We invite all guerrillas and militia who are not in agreement with demobilization and the laying down of FARC weapons to join forces and continue united as an organization," the statement said.

OPINION: Colombia Eyewitness: The Last Day of the War

Santos said earlier on Wednesday that any FARC unit that does not adhere to a peace agreement would end up “in a grave or jail,"

FARC leaders negotiating the peace deal in Havana did not immediately respond to the decision by the breakaway unit, but security sources said other units could also reject a peace agreement, and throw the process into doubt.

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Circuba 2016 Gathers Latin American Asian and European Talents

Havana, Jul 6 (Prensa Latina) Artists from Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe and Asia will be present at the 15th International Circuba 2016 from July 11 to 17 in this capital.

The event of its kind with more relevance in Latin America includes the participation of famous personalities of this art, among them US David Adam Adamovich, a famous and the fastest knife thrower in the world, the Ecuadorian group Enominne Danza Aérea and Taiwanese Shih- Hao Yang, Argentinean Maria Celeste and others.

The Cuban participation will be ensured with Compañía Havana.

The event is dedicated to the 90th birthday of Fidel Castro and the 35 years of the event.

The contest will take place in Havana's Carpa Trompoloco, where also there will remain two exhibitions shaped by photos, engravings and other artistic declarations.

On having finished the festival, a representation of the presented in the event will travel round almost the whole national territory, to offer 75 shows, with clowns and other surprises.

Established in 1981, Circuba is the most ancient third event of its type of the world, only preceded by that of Monte Carlo (1974) and the Festival of the Circus of Tomorrow (the Young Track in Paris, 1977).

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Climate Change Will Have Great Impact on Latin America, Euroclima Says

BRUSSELS – Climate change will have a great impact on Latin America, a region with vast biodiversity and economies that are highly dependent on commodities, Horst Pilger, a Euroclima program official, said Wednesday.

Pilger told EFE that the region was dependent on agriculture and commodities, two sectors that will suffer the effects of climate change.

The European Commission official addressed the issue at a European Development Days ceremony, where Euroclima presented a progress report.

Euroclima is a European Union program that encourages environmental cooperation between the trade bloc and 18 Latin American countries.

Euroclima program manager Catherine Ghyoot said Latin America needed to expand cooperation and exchanges of knowledge with the EU and other institutions, as well as among neighboring countries in the region.

Euroclima representatives told EFE that the program had already helped countries in the region exchange good practices on climate change, which could eventually result in the reduction of poverty.

In 2016, the program will focus its third phase on boosting cooperation among nations with the aim of helping Latin America deal with climate change and promote opportunities for green growth, Euroclima said in a statement.

Euroclima, established in 2010, has received more than 16 million euros (about $17.9 million) to promote projects aimed at mitigating the effects of climate change in Latin America in the 2010-2016 period.

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