Cuba > Mexico #worldinterview #18

Cuba > Mexico

Interviewee: Eduardo Escalante

What is Mexico’s strategy to look after and cope with a large number of archaeological sites and respond to the demands of international protocols regarding the conservation of world heritage sites?

The responsibility for the research, protection, conservation, dissemination and management of the archaeological heritage is given by federal law to the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), created in 1939. The INAH has a permanent programme for the recording and registration of archaeological sites in the country, being helped by the regional INAH offices on every state (one representation of INAH in every state). Each INAH office is responsible for the national activities of the Institute on the regional level, bearing more attention to the archaeological sites officially opened to the public. Among these sites opened to the public, World Heritage Sites are among the most visited and the ones with more attention. Since 1985 when Mexico rectified the World Heritage Convention, the responsibilities as a State Party are among the responsibilities of INAH for the conservation and management of World Heritage Sites, especially archaeological sites and historic centres.  According the Mexican legislation, every rectified convention is considered part of the federal framework policy.

It is important to notice that within INAH there is a specialized department for World Heritage. This department is the responsible for the nomination and monitoring processes. It is the representation of INAH with the World Heritage Centre of UNESCO. This department works alongside CONANP (National Commission for Protected Natural Areas), which is responsible for the Natural World Heritage sites.

How does Mexico build capacity for minority groups to get involved in archaeology and museums?

Recently, INAH has been developing Community Museums on communities with high cultural heritage values. It is important for INAH since its creation to work alongside the minority groups in order to protect cultural heritage and archaeological sites. Every research project on the countryside bears in mind the involvement of communities in order to build a community project.

What is the role of Mexican indigenous communities in the process of institutional decisions regarding tourism on archaeological heritage?

The direct participation of indigenous communities within archaeological sites in Mexico has to be with the ownership of the land. Several archaeological sites opened to the public still are on community owned land, for what indigenous communities can have a direct positive impact for the visitation working together with government policies regarding tourism. Although this aspect of the management of archaeological sites in Mexico still is a delicate issue, being more evident around World Heritage sites.

How does Mexico deal with the planning and development of cities and country areas, considering the occurrence of potential of archaeological sites?

INAH is composed by several departments, such as the Rescue Archaeology Department (commercial archaeology, savage archaeology). This department is the responsible of the follow up processes on development projects. By law, every development project has to have the INAH verification and approval for the construction. If there is archaeological evidence, is the organisation or company of the development project the one responsible for providing the necessary resources in order to execute a proper rescue archaeological project. This rescue archaeology process goes along with the permanent programme of record and registration of archaeological heritage, for what a Geographical Information Database is integrated in order to have a clear idea of the existence of archaeological evidence in the Mexican territory.

About Eduardo:

BA in Archaeology, Autonomous University of Yucatan; MA in Managing of Archaeological Sites, UCL; Head of the Technical Unit for the Management of Archaeological Sites, Sites Operation Department, National Coordination of Archaeology, National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH)

Questions from Odlanyer Hernández de Lara in Cuba.

Click the worldinterview tag for more interviews in this series.