According to the temporary export agreement No. 11-2021 between the Ministry of Culture and Sports and The Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York City (MET), October 30, 2022, is the deadline to return the Mayan masterpieces Trono I and Dintel III from Piedras Negras, Petén. These millennial Maya pieces were sent to the MET in New York under the legal figure of “restoration,” according to Ministerial Agreement 878-2021 from August 18, 2021, contrary to the internal law of the Ministry of Culture and Sports that regulates the non-mobility neither export for the exhibition of such pieces (Ministerial Agreement 721-2003). The Mayan pieces were exported against the will of the Aq'ijab' organizations, Indigenous organizations, institutions and archeologists, who opposed the departure of such pieces.
We have patiently waited for this date to receive "our sacred pieces" and for you and your communication team to announce it. Given the silence and the certainty that made a legal and administrative triangulation to "authorize the exhibition of Trono I and Dintel III" at the MET in New York and authorize the temporary export, we have asked our sisters and brothers who have the opportunity to verify the place and report the deception and mockery; agreements and agreements behind our backs, of which we are victims once again, the Guatemalan citizens and Indigenous Peoples who love our ancient culture, our sacred pieces and our archaeological remains due to our relationship with the historical memory and dignity of our people.
We filed a complaint before the prosecutor's office against cultural heritage crimes, whose manager dismissed it and the judge of the same division confirmed it. For us, these are clear signs that State institutions are co-opted and do not work to defend the rights of citizens and Indigenous Peoples but only to persecute and punish people who are against the excesses of the government, corporate tyranny, and military; we have been experiencing this since the origin of this colonial State.
This public letter is a clear and forceful expression of denunciation before the national and international community that Ajq'ijab' Indigenous Peoples organizations and professionals are committed to defending cultural and natural heritage. We are vigilant of the actions of the corrupt rulers, of the excesses they carry out, who twist the laws when they see fit and apply them severely against individual and collective human rights defenders in this country.
Mr. Felipe Aguilar, Minister of Culture and Sports, we demand the return of Trono I and Dintel III from Piedras Negras and for them to be placed in a special and protected place in the National Museum of Archeology and Ethnology- MUNAE for its initials in Spanish.
Plataforma de Cultura Milenaria Maya
Colectivo Guatemalteco para la Defensa del Patrimonio
October 28, 2022, Guatemala