The AIA has posted a summary of CPAC's hearing on a proposed renewal of an MOU with Bolivia on its website. See
US relations with the anti-American leftist government of Evo Morales are so poor that each country has recalled its ambassador. See http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/35751.htm.
However, does anyone believe this will impact yet another renewal of import restrictions on Bolivian artifacts? See http://exchanges.state.gov/heritage/culprop/blfact.html
What is stiking though is really how small is the group that benefits most from such restrictions. Indeed, according to one speaker, no more than 40-50 archaeologists are currently at work in the entire country!
And, of course, the tangible public support for such restrictions is even more limited. Only 25 members of the public commented at all on the restrictions. And while most of these comments were in support, many of these appear to be from members of the AIA's leadership. See http://www.regulations.gov/#docketDetail;dct=FR+PR+N+O+SR+PS;rpp=10;po=0;D=DOS-2011-0092 (Docket No. DOS-2011-0092) Hardly a ringing endorsement by the American public in favor of giving away something for nothing once again to an unfriendly nation in the name of archaeology!
Also of interest is the fact that the Bolivian government apparently at least tolerates indigenous collectors (wonder how connected they are to the local power elite?). According to another speaker, a local collector was convinced to put his collection into a museum rather than put it up for international sale. This is all fine and good, but if so, why should Americans be put in legal jeopardy for buying such material when Bolivians are allowed to collect it?
The Bolivian Government is no friend to our Government. Our Government is awash in red ink. President Obama has claimed he is against over regulation. Yet, if history is any guide, the State Department will renew this MOU yet again to assuage the demands of archaeologists, and likely do so without any conditions whatsoever that require Bolivia to do something in return for our trouble.
Why? Are such agreements worth the costs involved to the US taxpayer, to museums and to those interested in collecting such material, particularly given the very narrow special interests such agreements actually serve?