Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd, who visited Latin America last week, said it was time for Yale University to return a collection of Peruvian antiquities taken from the Incan site of Machu Picchu nearly a century ago.
“The Machu Picchu artifacts do not belong to any government, to any institution, or to any university. They belong to the people of Peru. I plan to work with both parties to resolve this dispute quickly, amicably, and return the artifacts to their rightful owners,” he said in a statement.
Senator Dodd said he had worked with both parts to seek a solution to this disagreement over the artifacts and he will help Peru in its fight against Yale University.
“Yale is a remarkable institution whose countless contributions to our society extend far beyond academia alone. And for years, I have worked with Yale and Peru to seek a solution to this disagreement over the artifacts discovered at Machu Picchu, and housed at the Peabody Museum in New Haven," he added.
Peru filed a lawsuit against Yale over the artifacts in 2008, and its tourism leaders say they may launch a media campaign to raise awareness about the dispute.
Dodd is the Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and the chairman of its subcommittee on Latin America.
Jose Koechlin, head of Peru’s Hotel Society (SHP) and of the eco-tourism company Inkaterra, said Peru’s National Chamber of Tourism may use social media to pressure Yale to return the objects.
"Today we can go through Facebook or Twitter or the web or a PR campaign, but we have not decided to do that yet. We still think Yale will reconsider their position and do what’s moral to do. Do what they teach," he was quoted as saying by Your Public Media, a Connecticut daily.
Koechlin said many Peruvians don’t understand why Yale wouldn’t return the ancient objects which include ceramics, jewelry and human bones.
"It doesn’t make sense that Yale would stand by something that is so clearly wrong in the true American values, the true democratic values, the true human values. Whats right is right. Whats wrong is wrong. And this is wrong," he said.
But Yale stated the antiquities were excavated legally, brought to Connecticut with the permission of the Peruvian government, and under the laws of the day, the university is not obliged to return them.
Yale has filed a motion to dismiss the case. July 2011 marks the centennial of the re-discovery of Machu Picchu by explorer Hiram Bingham.
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