Public Papers

Statement by Press Secretary Fitzwater Announcing Importation Restrictions on Archeological Treasures From Peru


The Federal Register will publish new regulations barring the importation of archeological treasures from Peru. These measures are designed to help curb looting in the Sipan region, and respond to a request for such action made to us by the Government of Peru. The discovery of important archeological sites at Sipan has unfortunately generated intense demand for these treasures in the illegal art market. The tombs of the Moche nobility, which have produced gold artifacts unlike any previously seen in the pre-Columbian cultures of Peru, have prompted looters to engage in rampant destruction of these sites in order to satisfy the illegal trade in archeological artifacts.

The United States believes that the illegal trade in cultural property does immense damage to our hemispheric cultural heritage, and is willing to cooperate with other governments of this region and elsewhere to prevent illegal trafficking in archeological treasures. This is the third such action by the United States in imposing import restrictions under the provisions of the Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act and the 1970 UNESCO [United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization] Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. The United States imposed emergency restrictions on certain pre-Columbian artifacts from El Salvador in 1987, and on certain antique Andean textiles from Bolivia in 1989. At present, requests from the Governments of Canada and Guatemala are being considered by the Director of the U.S. Information Agency, who is advised by the President's Cultural Property Advisory Committee.