|Sculptural remains of the Mayan citadel Copan, dating from |
300 AD exemplify the valuable cultural heritage at risk in Honduras.
It is considered one of the most important sites of Mayan civilization.
With the new sentencing requirements looters face up 9 to 12 years for smuggling and buying illegally excavated items, 2 to 4 years for possessing cultural heritage artifacts, and 3 to 5 years for damage to historical monuments and failing to report archeological finds.
The changes to Honduran law follow a series of looting cases, including the recovery of a polychrome painted vase from 800-900 AD. Attention was also drawn to the subject when the International Council of Museums (ICOM) placed Honduras on the Red List for Endangered Cultural Objects.
Eva Martinez, of the Honduran Institute of Anthropology and History (IHAH), stated: "I'm confident that by being persistent, we will have a positive impact on the population. We'll not only be recovering cultural goods that have been stolen but also punish those responsible. We'll also be renewing their belief in the need to protect their history."
Sources: Kay Valle, "Honduras Seeks to Protect Cultural Heritage," InfosurHoy, Janaury 22, 2013; International Council of Museums "Red List of Endangered Cultural Objects of Central America and Mexico." Image source: UNESCO.