Ambassador David Hale, U.S. Undersecretary for Political Affairs, and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Ecuador José Samuel Valencia Amores, signed a new cultural property agreement in Quito on May 22, 2019. The signing of the agreement demonstrates a positive step in the protection of Ecuador’s cultural heritage by preventing the illicit import of Ecuadorian cultural property into the United States.
The new agreement creates U.S. import restrictions on archaeological and ethnological materials representing Ecuador’s cultural patrimony from the pre-Columbian through Colonial periods.
“Our new bilateral cultural property agreement creates opportunities for Americans to collaborate on the protection of Ecuador’s cultural heritage,” said Marie Royce, Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs. “Not only does this bilateral agreement protect precious artifacts for generations to come; it also encourages scientific, cultural, and educational exchanges between our two countries,” she said.
The United States and Ecuador first collaborated to combat cultural property trafficking in 1983 through an agreement to increase efforts to recover and return cultural property to both countries. Combatting the looting, theft, and trafficking of cultural objects is an important priority for the United States. Cultural objects are of central importance to maintaining and celebrating cultural heritage. In addition, illicit trafficking finances transnational organized crime that affects the security of all people.
“It is key to strengthen ties between the two countries to recover, protect, and safeguard heritage assets, as these represent the memory of a territory, and tell the history of humanity,” said Cassandra Herrera, Under Secretary of Social Memory at the Ministry of Culture and Patrimony of Ecuador.
This agreement highlights the richness and diversity of the history of the Ecuadorian people before and after Europeans, Africans, and others arrived in the 16th century, a distinctly American history that we share in the United States. Through the Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation, the United States has supported post-disaster conservation of archaeological collections, preservation of pre-Columbian archaeological sites, and restoration of historic buildings since 2004.