Archaeological site of Chichén Itza at risk of losing UNESCO’s recognition

The National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) lacks legal powers and has declared itself not capable to remove the street vendors from the Chichen Itza archaeological site main entrance. This is a problem that has not been resolved for more than three decades, and as time goes by, it is getting bigger and bigger.

Interviewed by Notimex, the head of the Department of Legal Procedures of the INAH Yucatan Center, José Arturo Chab Cárdenas, explained that the presence of the vendors in that archaeological zone dates from 1988.

However, the INAH’s legal representative acknowledged that the problem has escalated to the extent of jeopardizing the recognition of that site as Cultural Heritage of Humanity by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

“I think that the state and federal governments are not realizing the true dimension of this problem. At INAH, we have done everything that is within our reach to prevent sellers from occupying historical monuments and buildings,” he said.

“The law gives us faculties to protect the nation’s patrimony, our work is of preservation and anthropological research, that is what we have done and we have defended the buildings and monuments, now it is time for federal and state authorities to face this problem with the vendors who want to occupy these if they were public “, he continued.

“There is a perimeter that we have to protect and we have done so. It is a presidential decree that is part of the Federal Law on Monuments and Archaeological, Artistic and Historical Areas and so far we have carried out our responsibilities in terms of law, which is the conservation and the safeguarding of the archaeological sites” Chab Cárdenas stated.

“The INAH cannot take unilateral decisions to remove the vendors and artisans, in any case there are other authorities of the federal and state governments, such as the tourism secretariat, CULTUR and even the SHCP (Secretaria de Hacienda y Crédito Público), they all have to work together to find a solution to this conflict”, he said.

“The idea is to relocate the vendors in a suitable place that meets the necessary security and protection measures and maintains the right to work of these people that is a human right,” he added.

During the administration of former governor Rolando Zapata Bello, an initiative came up to build a special facility for the vendors. But the current administration said, through the director of the Board of Trustees of the Units of Cultural and Tourist Services of Yucatan (Cultur), Mauricio Díaz Montalvo, that it would be necessary to make changes to the project proposed by the government of Zapata Bello.

The Yucatan state government has declared that the presence of the street vendors in Chichen is responsibility of the INAH, since it is a federal “interference zone”. Meanwhile, 31 years have passed, the problem has not been solved, and this could cause Chichen Itza to lose its inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

In case of losing the UNESCO inscription, the site will be no longer under protection of the United Nations, and it would be declared as “Archaeological City at Risk”, which could be really disastrous, and it has happened to other cities and archaeological sites around the world.

The Yucatan Times Newsroom with information from INAH Yucatán



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