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Wed Sep 10, 2014, 09:59 PM

Peru's Modern Economy Clashes With Its Past

Peru's Modern Economy Clashes With Its Past
By Ryan Dube
Updated Sept. 10, 2014 9:35 p.m. ET

[font size=1]
Ancient pyramids at El Paraíso, above, outside Peru's
capital of Lima, are at the center of a legal dispute.
Ryan Dube/The Wall Street Journal
LIMA, Peru—For 4,000 years, the pyramids at an archaeological site on the edge of Lima survived earthquakes, Spanish conquistadors and a bloody revolution. But they were no match for developers cashing in on Peru's economic boom.

Prosecutors in August filed charges against a developer that Peruvian officials said used a front-loading tractor last year to level a 20-foot pyramid at El Paraíso, and planned to flatten three others to make way for housing construction.

Archaeologists say such incidents are increasingly plaguing Peru's cultural patrimony, which includes one of the world's great empires, the Incas, and several other notable civilizations. The quick rise of Peru's modern economy, they say, is colliding with the remains of ancient societies in a way that dwarfs the artifact looting that has long afflicted Peru's ruins.

"This is now a much bigger problem than looting," said Walter Alva, a Peruvian archaeologist who has made some of the most important discoveries in Peru over 30 years. "It is very difficult to juggle the protection of cultural heritage with economic interests."

Over the past decade, Peru has clocked average annual growth of more than 6%, the fastest in South America, as foreign investments in the mineral-rich nation rose from $1.6 billion in 2004 to $10 billion in 2013. The poverty rate fell to 24% from almost 60% as a bigger middle class fueled demand for homes and cars. But the protection of Andean fortresses and pyramids has lagged behind, government officials and archaeologists say, in part blaming an archaeology budget of just $7.3 million.

Less than 20% of the 14,000 archaeological sites in the Ministry of Culture's database have been mapped—their precise boundaries marked—by authorities. Only 133 sites have been included in a land registry intended to provide them more legal protection.


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Reply Peru's Modern Economy Clashes With Its Past (Original post)
Judi Lynn Sep 2014 OP
emsimon33 Sep 2014 #1

Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Thu Sep 11, 2014, 07:06 PM

1. Most of Peru is sparsely inhabited...except for the Lima area

Peru is more than Machu Picchu; I hope the government steps up its protection of these sites.

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