Greenpeace used the world-famous Nazca lines to place a giant message saying “Time for Change, The Future is Renewable,” which furious Peruvian officials say irreparably damaged the archeological site.
The international environmental organization has sent its Executive Director, Kumi Naidoo, to Peru to personally apologize.
Mr. Naidoo, who was surrounded by Peruvian reporters at Jorge Chavez International Airport in Callao, said:
“I have come to meet with the authorities to see how we can help them regarding investigations into the case and we will do everything necessary to remedy the problem.”
The Peruvian government said it will seek criminal charges against Greenpeace activists. It claims they damaged the UN World Heritage site by trampling in the adjacent desert leaving footprints.
The stunt, aimed at promoting renewable energy, was placed beside the famous figure of a hummingbird which consists of black rocks on a white background.
Scholars believe the Nazca Lines were created between 400 and 650 AD by the Nazca culture.
The Nazca Lines are a collection of geoglyphs located in southern Peru in the Nazca Desert. In 1994, they were designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
A slap in the face
Luis Jaime Castillo, Deputy Culture Minister, accused Greenpeace of giving what Peruvians consider sacred “a slap in the face.” He said he and his government will track down those responsible, who have since left the country, and ask prosecutors to file charges of “attacking archeological monuments.”
If taken to court and found guilty, the activists could face up to six years in prison.
The Greenpeace activists trespassed a “strictly prohibited” area where they placed a huge yellow cloth containing their message, which could be viewed from an airplane.
According to Mr. Castillo, absolutely nobody, not even Cabinet Ministers or the President himself, are allowed into that area. Those with permission must go accompanied by experts and have to wear special shoes to make sure the area is not damaged.
Peru may sue for $200 million
Perú21 informs that Jorge Jochamowitz, President of the Cámara Nacional de Turismo (National Chamber of Tourism), proposed demanding a $200 million penalty for the damage caused.
In an interview with Perú21, Mr. Jochamowitz said:
“They have committed a barbarous act. The damage is irreparable. With 200 million this could be reverted, but not repaired (Han cometido una barbaridad. El daño es irreparable. Con los 200 millones no se podrá revertir esto, pero se puede refaccionar).”
“Without reservation Greenpeace apologises to the people of Peru for the offence caused by our recent activity laying a message of hope at the site of the historic Nazca Lines. We are deeply sorry for this.”
“We fully understand that this looks bad. Rather than relay an urgent message of hope and possibility to the leaders gathering at the Lima UN climate talks, we came across as careless and crass.”
“We have now met with the Peruvian Culture Ministry responsible for the site to offer an apology. We welcome any independent review of the consequences of our activity. We will cooperate fully with any investigation.”