A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America
ARCHAEOLOGY magazine received the following urgent message via Save Ollantaytambo (firstname.lastname@example.org) with regard to the planned construction of the Ollantaytambo-Alfamayo-Quillabamba-Kiteni National Highway in Peru, which, according to local authorities, will damage the Inka fortress.
An Open Letter from the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Ollantaytambo
Municipality of the District of Ollantaytambo
Ollantaytambo, January 30, 2000
To all those concerned for the preservation of the World's Cultural Heritage:
I, Benicio Ríos Ocsa, Mayor, and Adolfo del Alamo Sota, Deputy Mayor, members of the district council of Ollantaytambo, in the Department of Cusco, as democratically elected representatives of the townspeople, are writing to you in the hope of avoiding the destruction of the integrity of the archaeological monument and historic human settlement of Ollantaytambo.
At this date the aforementioned monument is in imminent danger, from the projected construction of the Ollantaytambo-Alfamayo-Quillabamba-Kiteni National Highway (projected to extend to Camisea), which would cross the entire archaeological zone, whichever of the three possible routes is chosen.
If this were to happen, our Penal Code would be violated (Penal Code articles 227-229). Some 100 terraces would be affected, over a distance of about two kilometers of the Inka agricultural-engineering works, which are maintained in full production up to the present day--an incalculable traffic of high-tonnage vehicles would be driving through the archaeological monument of Ollantaytambo, thus threatening the entire cultural and tourism environment, which is the pride, the wealth, the past, and the future of our town.
Despite the proposals of the Cusco branch of the National Cultural Institute and the Ministry of Transport and Communications, as stated in the report presented by the engineering consultants, Visa Consultores S.A., such that the highway could "cross an area of Inka terraces with the condition that the edges of the highway could be restored with walls the same as the existing ones," we consider this concept unacceptable. To alter the original configuration of the Inka complex of Ollantaytambo in this way is inadmissible. The terraces cannot be disturbed.
Although it is titled the "Highway By-pass Project" by the agencies responsible for promoting this plan, none of the proposals manages to "By-pass" the archaeological and historical complex of Ollantaytambo. The latter covers the entire Vilcanota valley on both sides of the river at Kilometer 68 of the Cusco-Santa Ana railroad, and it would therefore be impossible to avoid the destruction of this heritage if the highway were to be built through this area.
It is very important to emphasize that this statement must not be understood as an act of opposition to development in this area, but rather as an urgent defensive measure in the face of the imminent destruction of the only living Inka settlement in the world. Therefore, we urgently call upon the competent national and international authorities to seek alternative proposals that would ensure both improved highway communication with the Quillabamba-Kiteni region, and the protection of Ollantaytambo.
We, with all the powers which the law and the people confer upon us, call upon national, governmental, cultural, and international organizations, along with all those who wish to protect this heritage, to support us in the defense of all humanity's inheritance, the Archaeological Park of Ollantaytambo.