Peru Seeks Apology From Greenpeace Over Geoglyph Banner Protest

Peru will prevent a group of Greenpeace activists from leaving the country until they apologize for allegedly damaging a site near pre-Hispanic drawings in the Nazca desert, according to a government official.

As many as 20 people entered the archaeological site without authorization on Dec. 8 to place a banner next to one of the geoglyphs, which are 1,500 to 2,000 years old, Deputy Minister for Cultural Heritage Luis Jaime Castillo said by phone from Lima. They left footprints in the desert adjacent to a geoglyph that may be impossible to remove, Castillo said.

The Nazca lines, which are spread out over about 450 square kilometers of desert in the south of Peru, are a United Nations World Heritage Site and depict animals, plants and imaginary beings. While damaging cultural heritage carries a jail sentence of as long as six years under Peruvian law, the ministry only wants the activists to accept responsibility for damaging the site and make a public apology, Castillo said.

“We don’t want to put anyone in jail,” Castillo said. “What we want is for the damage to be repaired and someone has to take responsibility for that. We’re not seeking vengeance but justice.”

Greenpeace is “deeply concerned about any moral offense” Peruvians may have taken by the banner, it said in an e-mailed statement today. The statement quotes lawyer Henry Carhuatocto as saying Peru’s cultural heritage hadn’t been damaged in the protest.

The banner, which was photographed from the air before being removed, said “Time for Change! The Future Is Renewable,” according to images published by Greenpeace.

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