Friday, April 11, 2014

Perú: Parliament Introduces up-to-a-15-Year Prison Term for Those Who Deface Cultural Heritage Sites

According to The Peruvian Times, Congressman Aldo Bardalez, An opposition legislator is calling on Parliament to consider drastic punishment for those who deface the country's cultural heritage with a prison sentence up to 15-years in prison.
Congressman Bardalez, a member of the right-wing party loyal to jailed former President Alberto Fujimori, is calling on Parliament to debate and pass a law that would punish individuals with up to a maximum of 15 years in prison for damaging cultural heritage sites.

Bardalez said the measure is necessary due to growing increase in the number of defacement cases and incidents. 

According to the legislator, there were 5,226 crimes committed against cultural heritage between 2000 and 2014, RPP Noticias reported. 

For further detail, please see my Peruvians postings of March 24 and March 27, respectively.

Bardalez said the approval of the bill is necessary in order to send a “drastic and firm” message.

COMMENT: Throughout my life I have been blessed in being able to enjoy so many of the world's cultural legacies in such countries as Egypt, Burma, Cyprus, Thailand, Jordan, Perú,  Cambodia, Israel, the UK and so many others.

Although a prison sentence of up to and including fifteen years in prison may seem unduly harsh for the defacement of priceless cultural heritages, please consider this:

Those who have so little respect for future generations that cause them to deface, intentionally, causing the Peruvian government to spend thousands of hours restoring archaeological sites to their original state, it appears that the "tough love" approach is warranted after sustaining 5,226 incidents of defacement.

Damage to cultural heritage includes everything from spray painting on Inca walls and colonial buildings to the robbery of rural colonial-era churches for priceless artwork and religious antiques.

Current legislation includes maximum punishments of up to eight years in prison, but in fact individuals found guilty of committing these crimes rarely receive the maximum sentence, according to RPP.  

Recently, a Norwegian and a Peruvian were caught spray-painting graffiti on a colonial house in Cusco, but were eventually released because the building they defaced was not constructed during the Inca period.

The country was the seat of the Inca empire that stretched from Colombia to Argentina, and to a number of important earlier civilizations, before the arrival of Pizarro and his Conquistadors, when it became the center of Spanish rule in South America for almost 300 years.

Ultimately, though, revolutions led to the independence of Latin America from the Spanish in the 19th century, which is why protecting the region's cultural legacies is so very important for future generations.