On January bulldozers and trucks began to arrive in Chinchero for the construction of a long-awaited international airport in the heart of Peru’s tourist region. “A 40-year-old dream”, Science Mag calls it. Nevertheless, it threatens to destroy many of the archaeological sites that people travel to this place to see.
“Once it is completed in 2023, authorities say 6 million visitors a year will have an easier, more direct route to nearby Incan sites, including the famed royal estate of Machu Picchu. But archaeologists, anthropologists, historians, and others say the airport and the resulting surge in development and tourism will destroy archaeological sites and some of the very cultural riches the visitors come to see.”, the aforementioned website said.
About 200 Peruvian and international experts have written President Martín Vizcarra to ask him to suspend the construction and relocate the project. More than 2,000 have also signed a petition.
The Sacred Valley, where the airport is going to be built is “one of Peru’s most archaeological and historically complex places,” said Natalia Majluf, a Peruvian art historian at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, former director of the Lima Museum of Art, and one of the petition’s organizers.
Archaeologists who studied the area prior to deciding the construction of the airport said that there is little evidence of pre-Columbian occupation, but other scientists don’t agree since there haven’t been excavations done in the area. “We don’t know what’s underneath,” said Abel Traslaviña Arias, a Peruvian archaeologist and doctoral student at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.