Friday, October 28, 2005

Tomb Raiders

A small squatter encampment is threatening a World Heritage Site in Peru, Reuters reports. A few dozen squatter families have erected wood and straw huts on the edge of the Nazca lines, a little-known but vast area 400 km south of Lima. where enigmatic shapes and lines, stylised figures of birds and animals were etched in the desert 2000 years ago.

"Look around: ... it's full of excrement, rubbish, (old) signs of looting," said Maximiliano Tenorio, one of the new squatters.

Though the new settlement is far from the best of the Nazca drawings, archeologists fear that squatter homes will spread unless people are evicted.

If the government wants to protect the Nazca lines (which have periodically been chopped up by legal development and destroyed by tomb raiders), it will have to negotiate with the squatters to provide land and infrastructure elsewhere. As in Turkey and Brazil, when governments negotiate in good faith, the squatters themselves police their boundaries and prevent further encroachments on ecologically or culturally sensitive parcels.

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