Latin America Nations Slam French Auction of Pre-Hispanic Artifacts

Ambassadors from six Latin American countries on Tuesday denounced an upcoming auction of pre-Hispanic artifacts in France, reviving a longstanding grievance of the region. 

The joint statement came a day after Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador denounced the practice as immoral after a recent major auction. 

The Paris ambassadors of Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Peru and the Dominican Republic condemned “in the strongest terms” the sale of pre-Hispanic artifacts organized by auction houses in the coming days. 

In their joint statement, they called for the auctions to be halted. 

They denounced what they said was the “continuation of practices linked to the illicit trade in cultural property, which damage the heritage, history and identity of our native peoples.” 

The ambassadors of Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Peru made a similar appeal last November. 

On Monday, Mexico’s Lopez Obrador called on France to legislate on the issue, after the January 28 sale by the Millon auction house of 30 pre-Hispanic Mexican artifacts, despite protests from Mexico City. 

In recent years, Mexico has been trying to recover artifacts in the hands of private collectors around the world, with only partial success. 

As well as calling for artworks to be returned, Mexico has accused major European fashion houses of cultural appropriation for lifting native designs for their clothes. 

It is part of an ongoing debate over the ethics of cultural artifacts held by museums and private owners in former colonial powers, and questions about how they were acquired in the first place. 

 



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