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ICOM Press Releases

Press Release
27 November 2003

Red List of Latin-American Cultural Objects at Risk
STOP the Illicit Trafficking in Heritage

The International Council of Museums (ICOM) announces the publication of the Red List of Latin-American Cultural Objects at Risk. This List has been drawn up in response to the illicit trafficking in pre-Columbian and Colonial objects, which is steadily increasing in spite of national and international legislation strictly prohibiting the export and sale of this type of cultural property.

The Red List contains 25 examples of specific pre-Columbian and Colonial heritage categories that are systematically looted throughout Latin America and that are also in great demand on the illegal antiquities market.

In Latin America, looting of archaeological sites and thefts in museums and religious edifices are causing irreparable damage to the heritage of the continent and of mankind as a whole. This emergency situation, which has lasted for years, has provoked an outcry from the international community of heritage professionals. The Red List was drawn up in April 2002 by a group of 60 museum and heritage professionals from America and Europe at a workshop that was held in Bogotá and that was jointly organized by ICOM and the Colombian Ministry of Culture.

The Red List is an appeal to museums, auction houses, art dealers and collectors not to buy these objects. It is also intended to help customs officials, police officers and art dealers to identify them.

The Red List is not exhaustive. Due to the tremendous variety of objects, styles, and periods, the legal status of any antiquity from Latin America should be carefully ascertained, in order to make sure that it has not been stolen or looted.

The Red List of Latin-American Cultural Objects at Risk will be distributed to the concerned professionals, custom officials and police officers all over the world via Interpol and the World Customs Organization (WCO). The English, Spanish and French versions of the Red List are also available on ICOM's Web site (

It is based on ICOM's Red List concept, and follows on from previous work on Africa and Iraq.

ICOM wishes to extend its gratitude to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, the Prinz Klaus Fund and the Danish Center for Culture and Development, for bestowing their trust on ICOM once again in providing financial support for this project.

Further information for the press

Contact :
ICOM International : Valérie Jullien,
Tel + 33 (0) 1 47 34 05 00 Fax +33 (0) 1 44 10 40 07



Updated: 20 June 2005