|Endangered Maya carved bone subject to import restrictions. U.S. State Dept.|
The adopted import restrictions are authorized by the Cultural Property Implementation Act (CPIA) and are effective until September 29, 2017. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) renews import controls on Pre-Columbian archaeological artifacts from Guatemala dating from 2000 B.C. to 1524 A.D. Moreover, the bilateral agreement has been broadened to include ecclesiastical objects from approximately 1524 to 1821 A.D.
The United States originally enacted emergency import protections in 1991 and 1994, covering Maya archaeology from Guatemala's Petén region. The U.S. and Guatemala entered into a bilateral agreement in 1997 that covered pre-Columbian archaeological material. The countries later extended this MoU in 2002 and 2007.
Cultural objects covered by the bilateral agreement may legally pass through the American border when they have either an export permit or proof showing "that they left Guatemala prior to the effective date of the restriction: April 15, 1991, for archaeological material from Petén, and October 3, 1997, for archaeological material from throughout Guatemala," and September 29, 2012 for ecclesiastical material dating from the Conquest and Colonial Periods of Guatemala.
The 1973 Pre-Columbian Monumental or Architectural Sculpture or Murals Statute, meanwhile, also remains in effect. That federal law forbids importation of designated Pre-Columbian cultural heritage into the U.S., except that monumental or architectural sculpture or murals may be imported when there is either an authorized export license or paperwork showing departure from the source nation before June 1, 1973.
Endangered cultural items protected by either CPIA import controls or the Pre-Columbian Monumental or Architectural Sculpture or Murals Statute may be detained, seized, and forfeited by American authorities as contraband unless accompanied by an export permit or appropriate proof. Criminal smugglers may also face potential prosecution.
It is best to speak with a cultural property attorney and/or seek a U.S. Customs ruling when importing cultural heritage from Guatemala.
This post is researched, written, and published on the blog Cultural Heritage Lawyer Rick St. Hilaire at culturalheritagelawyer.blogspot.com. Text copyrighted 2012 by Ricardo A. St. Hilaire, Attorney & Counselor at Law, PLLC. Any unauthorized reproduction or retransmission of this post is prohibited. CONTACT: www.culturalheritagelawyer.com