The Cultural Affairs Office of the United States Embassy in Guatemala is actively involved in helping Guatemala preserve its cultural patrimony and heritage. The two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in 1997, which was extended in 2002, 2007 and 2012. The Memorandum of Understanding pledges U.S. Customs assistance in intercepting the illegal importation of artifacts into the United States and requests Government of Guatemala facilitation of legitimate loan requests from U.S. Museums. To date, the U.S. has returned numerous pieces to Guatemala and Guatemala has loaned objects to U.S. museums, as agreed in the MOU.
Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation
The Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) was established in 2001 to help countries preserve cultural heritage. Congress noted, “…cultural preservation offers an opportunity to show a different American face to other countries, one that is non-commercial, non-political, and non-military. By taking a leading role in efforts to preserve cultural heritage, we show our respect for other cultures.” The AFCP permits U.S. ambassadors in certain countries to submit proposals for one-time or recurring projects that assist in preserving their cultural heritage. Grants typically range from US$10,000 to US$100,000. The Cultural Affairs Office is responsible for the management of the Ambassador’s Fund in Guatemala.
United States and Guatemala Extend Agreement to Protect Archaeological Heritage of Guatemala. Effective September 29, 2012, this extension represents a continuation of cooperation that began in 1991 when emergency U.S. import restrictions were implemented to stem the problem of pillage of Guatemala’s rich Maya heritage and the illicit trafficking in such material. The extension is consistent with a recommendation made by the Cultural Property Advisory Committee to the Department.
The recently approved MOU now includes the Ecclesiastical Ethnological Material from the Conquest and colonial periods of Guatemala. This change is reflected in the new title of the MOU:
The initial name of the MOU was:
“Memorandum of Understanding Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Republic of Guatemala Concerning the Imposition of Import Restrictions on Archaeological Objects and Materials from the Pre-Columbian Cultures of Guatemala”
The MOU title now was amended to read:
“Memorandum of Understanding Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Republic of Guatemala Concerning the Imposition of Import Restrictions on Archaeological Material from the Pre-Columbian Cultures and Ecclesiastical Ethnological Material from the Conquest and Colonial Periods of Guatemala”
This change reflects an agreement to amend and extend the MOU which is effective since September 29, 2012.