Illicit Cultural Property from Latin America: Looting, Trafficking, and Sale

Yates, D. (2015), ‘Illicit Cultural Property from Latin America: Looting, Trafficking, and Sale’, in F. Desmarais ed. Countering Illicit Traffic in Cultural Goods: The Global Challenge of Protecting the World’s Heritage (Paris: ICOM).

This chapter will provide a broad overview of the the , smuggling, and illegal sale of cultural objects from Latin America. First, I will describe the two categories of Latin American cultural property covered by this chapter (pre-Conquest artefacts, colonial sacred art), and then consider the form and functioning of the illicit trade in Latin American antiquities. I will discuss the on-the-ground devastation of the historic trade in looted Latin American objects and present a model of a historic antiquities trafficking network. is will be illustrated by two case studies: the the and trafficking of a large Maya sculpture from the site of Machaquilá, Guatemala, and of the Church of Challapampa, Peru. Thee paper will close with a brief recommendation and an outline of the various outside forces that appear to play a significant role in the continued looting and trafficking of Latin American cultural objects. Among these important forces to consider are deforestation, human migration, the narcotics trade, local and regional instability, community insecurity, poverty, globalization, and developmental disparities. If reducing the illicit trade in Latin American cultural property is our goal, then all current and future policy must address these issues.