Peru sues Greenpeace for Nazca lines desecration

Posted Dec 10, 2014 by Karen Graham
A publicity stunt by Greenpeace activists backfired when the group entered a restricted area containing the famed Nazca lines, placing a banner next to a stylized hummingbird. Peru's government is seeking to file criminal charges against Greenpeace.
Scene from a video taken while activists were laying down the yellow letters at the Nazca site on Mo...
Scene from a video taken while activists were laying down the yellow letters at the Nazca site on Monday.
screen grab
Peru is seeking criminal charges against Greenpeace because the activists damaged the world famous Nazca lines by leaving footprints in the desert around the figures scratched in the sands when they entered the restrictive area on Monday.
Luis Jaime Castillo, Peru's deputy culture minister said, “It’s a true slap in the face at everything Peruvians consider sacred." He said Peru was seeking to prevent those responsible for the desecration of the site from leaving the country. The government will be asking prosecutors to file charges of "attacking archaeological monuments", a crime that could get the perpetrators up to six years in prison.
Nazca lines in Peru with high contrast image of the Hummingbird.
Nazca lines in Peru with high contrast image of the Hummingbird.
Martin St-Amant
The group of activists entered a "strictly prohibited" area next to the famous "hummingbird," and laid out big yellow cloth letters that read: "Time for Change; The Future is Renewable." Pictures taken at the site while the activists were working distinctly show the tracks of many people walking around the figure in the sand.
Castillo said no one, not even "presidents and cabinet ministers" are given permission to enter the restricted area without special authorization, and then, special shoes must be worn. "They are absolutely fragile. They are black rocks on a white background. You walk there and the footprint is going to last hundreds or thousands of years," Castillo said. "And the line that they have destroyed is the most visible and most recognized of all."
A Greenpeace spokeswoman Tina Loeffelbein said in defence of the group that the activists were "absolutely careful to protect the Nazca lines" and that Greenpeace is taking the case seriously and investigating. She declined to answer any questions pertaining to whether the group would identify the activists involved in the alleged crime.
"Peru has nothing against the message of Greenpeace. We are all concerned about climate change," said Castillo. "But the means doesn't justify the ends." The UN climate summit is currently being held in Lima, Peru. Greenpeace is well known for questionable actions that often lead to members being thrown in jail.
The Nazca lines are a UNESCO World Heritage site located in the Nazca desert in southern Peru. Scholars believe the ancient geoglyphs were laid down by the Nazca culture between 400 and 650 AD. The figures represent hummingbirds, spiders, monkeys, fish, sharks, killer whales, and lizards, as well as simple lines and geometric shapes.
The climate is dry and windless in the Nazca desert, and is fairly stable, and the figures are generally not altered much. But in recent years, there has been a deterioration of the fragile lines due to an increase in the number of people entering the restricted area. Here's an interesting fact about viewing the Nazca lines: Contrary to popular belief that the Nazca lines can only be seen from high in the sky, they can be seen quite well from the surrounding foothills.