Garcia calls on Obama to intervene in recovery of Machu Picchu artifacts

President Alan Garcia has called on his U.S. counterpart, Barack Obama, to intervene in Peru’s attempts to have Yale return thousands of archaeological artifacts taken almost a century ago from Machu Picchu, state news agency Andina reported.

Garcia made the request by submitting a letter to the U.S. Ambassador in Peru, Rose Likins, saying that Obama’s intervention would be “just and necessary.”

“Mr. President and good friend,” the letter reportedly said. “It has been almost 100 years since [the artifacts were removed] and despite multiple requests made in different opportunities by successive Peruvian governments, Yale has not returned to the Peruvian government the goods from Machu Picchu.”

For years Peru has attempted to negotiate with Yale seeking the return of thousands of artifacts that American historian Hiram Bingham dug up from some 170 tombs during three expeditions to Machu Picchu in 1911, 1912 and 1914.

Garcia said in the letter that Bingham acknowledged that the artifacts were on loan from Peru, saying in a 1916 letter to the National Geographic Society that “the objects don’t belong to us, but to the Peruvian government which has allowed us to take them out of the country on condition that they are returned in 18 months.”

Peru’s government has said it plans to step up efforts to retrieve the pieces. While Peru’s effort to have the artifacts returned is currently in litigation in a Connecticut court, the South American country’s Culture Minister Juan Ossio has said he will travel to Yale to meet with university authorities before year-end to discuss the return of the artifacts.

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