Monday, May 24, 2010

Backsliding on Long Term Loans?

The extent of Italy’s compliance with its promise to share long term loans with American museums that had not voluntarily repatriated artifacts was an important issue during the recent CPAC hearing to address renewal of the current MOU. Under the circumstances, I was surprised when it was recently brought to my attention that a similar long term loan requirement was quietly dropped when the MOU with El Salvador was extended yet again in March 2010.

The March 7, 2005 version of ART II of the MOU with El Salvador stated,

A. The Government of the Republic of El Salvador will use its best efforts to encourage long and short-term loans, for research and scientific purposes, of its archaeological materials under circumstances in which such exchange does not jeopardize its cultural patrimony and when consistent with the responsibilities of the National Council for Culture and Art(CONCULTURA), as carried out in accordance with the Special Law for the Protection of Cultural Patrimony of El Salvador. (Emphasis added.)


In contrast, the March 8, 2010 version of ART. II the MOU now only states,

D. Both governments shall endeavor to permit the exchange of pre-Columbian archaeological material under circumstances in which such exchange does not jeopardize the cultural patrimony of El Salvador, such as through temporary loans for exhibition purposes and study abroad, to benefit the people of both countries, including persons of Salvadoran heritage currently living in the United States of America (Emphasis added.)


Was CPAC consulted about dropping this requirement? If not, was the vote to extend the current MOU made under the false assumption that El Salvador would continue to be required to provide such loans as a quid pro quo ?

What does this say about the long term loan requirement in the current MOU with Italy? Will the State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs also quietly drop that requirement rather than hold Italy to it? One would hope not, but based on the El Salvadoran example, that possibility cannot be discounted.

1 comment:

Wayne G. Sayles said...


Do you see any sort of a pattern developing here vis-a-vis China and Cyprus? Why even bother having a committee, or even CPIA for that matter, if it's all smoke and mirrors? The words "arbitrary and capricious action" come to mind, but perhaps I'm being cynical. If so, I'd really welcome being set straight (even humbled) by some facts and sunshine out of Foggy Bottom. After the recent CPAC hearing, Ms. Kouroupas was in the lobby bidding farewell to speakers and guests and thanking them for their participation. I thought that was quite a nice thing to do. We spoke briefly and agreed that truth must be the foundation of any discourse. As a matter of fact, the ACCG motto -- "Per Lucem ad Veritatem" -- reflects exactly that tenet. I would hope that your questions here lead to a DOS/CPAC response and that light and truth illuminate the way forward. Of course, in the absence of that event, my cynicism will have been validated and my humbling made unnecessary.