Greenpeace Damages Nazca Lines in Peru

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( — December 10, 2014) Lima, Peru — A group of Greenpeace activists left footprints in the adjacent desert during a publicity stunt, a senior government official said of Monday’s action by the environmental group at the famed drawings etched into Peru’s coastal desert, a U.N. World Heritage site.

“It’s a true slap in the face at everything Peruvians consider sacred,” Deputy Culture Minister Luis Jaime Castillo said.  

According to AP, Castillo said the government asks prosecutors to file charges of “attacking archaeological monuments,” a crime punishable by up to six years in prison. Meanwhile, the Peruvian government seeks a way to prevent responsible ones from leaving the country

The activists entered a ‘strictly prohibited’ area, the Culture Ministry said in a statement. Beside the famed figure of a hummingbird, they laid big yellow cloth letters reading: “Time for Change; The Future is Renewable.”

The message was intended for delegates from 190 countries at the UN climate talks being held in nearby Lima.

No one is allowed, not even presidents and Cabinet ministers, without authorization, and those who do have permission must wear special shoes Castillo said. Greenpeace activists snuck in and left their footprints all over the site, he said.

The scholar believes the lines were created by the Nazca culture between 400 and 650 AD. The designs are shallow lines made in the ground by removing the reddish pebbles and uncovering the whitish/grayish ground beneath. The Nazca Lines were designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994.

“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.”

Greenpeace representative Tina Loeffelbein said the group is taking the case seriously and investigating. She said, however, that the activists were “absolutely careful to protect the Nazca lines.”