On December 8, 20 Greenpeace activists from seven countries spread large yellow cloth letters near the 1,500 years hummingbird lines, relaying the message: “Time for change! The future is renewable Greenpeace!”. The heritage site is usually just seen from the sky, even ministers have to seek special permission to tread the grounds with special footwear.
The international environmental organization wanted to capture the attention of delegates attending the COP20 conference on climate change, taking place in Lima.
— Greenpeace: 100% RE (@Greenpeace100RE) December 8, 2014
Pictures were uploaded on its official Twitter account showing the placing of the message:
— Greenpeace (@Greenpeace) December 8, 2014
Greenpeace also displayed its intervention on Facebook, where despite having received more than 6,000 likes for its publication, several indignant Peruvians criticized the act. For example, lawyer Erick Iriarte made the following comment:
Ninguna lucha x #ddhh puede violar #ddhh (y nuestros derechos culturales a nuestra historia, son derechos humanos). Luchar violando derechos termina siendo contraproducente. Todos luchamos x que lideres tomen decisiones, pero no tienen ningun derecho a violar mi historia, la historia de mi pueblo, de mis hijos, de mis padres, Y que ustedes crean que caminar sobre zona arqueologica no es dañarla, les informo que tambien la dañan y ciertamente que el kilometro que caminaron para llegar a zona dejaron sus huellas, removieron espacio, y alteraron el, precisamente que defienden, medioambiente.
No fight for #dddh [human rights] can violate #ddhh (as well as our cultural rights to our history; they are human rights). Fighting for human rights while violating them ends up being counterproductive. We all struggle for leaders to make decisions; however, they have no right to defile my history and that of my people, my children, my parents. You think you can just walk about an archeological sight without harming it; let me tell you that you can. Surely, during the kilometer walk it took to get there, you left behind footprints, shifted things around, and altered what it is you defend – the environment.
The Nazca lines are in a restricted area one is not allowed to enter it, but for a reason. The Hummingbird figure is about 1km away from the nearest highway with some other 1000s of other lines criss crossing up to that area. Can you secure that no damage was done, cconsidering you arrived at the place when it was still dark? The Nazca desert has a few dozen figures but thousands of even more impressive lines.
Greenpeace offered this response:
We can assure you that absolutely NO damage was done. The message was written in cloth letters that laid on the ground without touching the Nazca lines. It was assessed by an experienced archaeologist, ensuring not even a trace was left behind.
However, not everyone accepted Greenpeace's claim.
— Marko Morales (@MarkoMoralez) December 8, 2014
No one is against the interests of Greenpeace, but I don't think this is the way to get attention!
— Hernán Hurtado (@hernanismo) December 9, 2014
6 years jail for Greenpeace offenders for trampling the Nazca Lines.
Walking along the lines might seem harmless; however, one needs to know how these lines are made in order to understand the damage. Why are the Nazca Lines so fragile? Geologist, Patricio Valderrama, explains:
La pampa de Nazca está compuesta por una finísima capa de material aluvial de origen granítico-volcánico de color rojizo (provenientes del Batolito de la Costa). Este nivel está sobre un nivel de arena gris clara, entonces, si “remueves” la capa superior, expondrás la capa inferior permanentemente, es este contraste de colores lo que permitió que los antiguos Nazca dibujaran sus lineas: haciendo surcos.
The Nazca pampas are made of a very fine layer of reddish alluvial material of granitic-volcanic origin (from Batolito de la Costa). This layer lies above one of light gray sand; therefore, if you “move” the upper one, you permanently expose the one below. It is this color contrast that allowed the ancient Nazcas to draw their lines, that is, making grooves.
State representatives took action after hearing the news.
— Agencia Andina (@Agencia_Andina) December 9, 2014
Possible damage of the Nazca lines committed by Greenpeace are being verified.
Following an inspection by Ministry of Culture representatives, Greenpeace was reported to the prosecutor's office for damage to the archeological heritage. The president of the Congress’ Culture Commission asked that the activists responsible be apprehended. In response, Greenpeace Climate and Energy campaign coordinator, Mauro Fernández, announced that he would place himself at the disposal of the Ministry of Culture and the Peruvian justice system to “resolve any problems”.
Hernán Hurtado of the Heritage Defense Collective, comments on the Qollur Archeology blog that, “Greenpeace should be known as a non grata institution.” He also emphasized on the problems facing the archeological site:
Este reciente y lamentable atentado, sirva para tomar medidas más eficaces en salvaguarda de nuestro patrimonio arqueológico. En tal sentido exhortamos al Ministerio de Cultura a redoblar esfuerzos en la defensa, protección y vigilancia de las pampas de Nasca y Palpa que son víctima constante de invasiones, huaquería y minería ilegal.
This recent and unfortunate attack serves in order for us take more efficient measures in protecting our archeological heritage. Whereby, we urge that the Ministry of Culture reinforce efforts to defend, protect, and surveil the Nazca and Palpa pampas that continually fall victim to invasions, looting, and illegal mining.
A few weeks ago a group of land invaders took control of the Cerros Altos and Huaca La Calera II sectors, which also form part of the Nazca archeological zone. The Ministry of Culture because failed to take action, even though they used heavy machinery. Social networks remained rather quiet regarding that incident, to which some protested ironically on Twitter:
Gracias (?), #Greenpeace, por recordarnos que tenemos Líneas de Nasca…y que las autoridades siempre se olvidan de ellas.
— Kathy Subirana (@Catalina_) December 9, 2014
Thanks (?) Greenpeace for reminding us that we have the Nazca Lines…and that the authorities always forget about them.
Again, however, there is a lack of consensus amongst social networkers regarding this issue:
@sgarciaasenjo Nazca está diezmada por invasiones, el uso del transporte, huaqueros, Dakar, etc. Y por esto se ofenden. Tira de hipócritas.
— J (@JotaC) December 9, 2014
Nazca is split into tens due to invasions, transportation use, looters, Dakar, etc. That's why they're offended. Bunch of hypocrites.
Ya salieron pavazos que dicen que xq hay minería ilegal y Dakar en Nasca, no nos podemos quejar de Greenpeace. Ay Dios mío, típico limeño.
— Paola Miglio (@paolamiglio) December 9, 2014
Out come the idiots saying why there's illegal mining and Dakar in Nazca. We can't complain about Greenpeace. Good God, typical Limean attitude.
Beyond the debate, there is hope that the Peruvian authorities will proactively protect the archeological heritage and not just when they come under media scrutiny.