Experts from Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama have prepared the Red List of Endangered Cultural Objects of Central America and Mexico in order to combat looting and destruction of regional archaeological sites and theft from churches and museums, as well as illegal trafficking, thus helping police, judicial and customs authorities in their work, building public awareness and promoting international cooperation to protect the cultural heritage of these countries.


THE RED LIST INCLUDES THE FOLLOWING CATEGORIES :
(These photographs are not reproductions of stolen objects; rather they are examples of the categories of cultural objects that are traded illegally.)

PREHISPANIC PERIOD

  1. Ceramics
  2. Metals
  3. Shells and bones
  4. Stone

COLONIAL AND REPUBLICAN PERIODS

  1. Painting
  2. Sculpture
  3. Documents
  4. Silverware

Context

The cultural heritage of Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama consists of items that may be identified by their specific characteristics. They were produced by various prehispanic, colonial and republican societies, and represent the historic memory of these nations.
The rich cultural heritage of these countries is affected by illegal trafficking, despite being protected by national and international legislation. Over the past twenty years, illegal exports of cultural objects have been intercepted, proving the increased interest in antiquities on the international market. This demand has encouraged clandestine diggings in archaeological sites, as well as increased theft from churches and museums.
Illegal trafficking of cultural objects from the region causes irreparable damage to the identity of these countries and is a severe cultural heritage loss for mankind.

Objective

This Red List has been designed as a tool to help museums, art traders, collectors and customs and police officers in the identification of objects that may have been illegally exported from Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. The list describes several categories of endangered objects that may be subject to illicit trade.
Because of the wide range of objects, shapes, styles and periods, the Red List of Endangered Cultural Objects of Central America and Mexico is not exhaustive, and the origin of any antiquity from the region should be subject to detailed scrutiny and precautionary measures.
These objects are protected by legislation in each country, which specifically prohibits their traffic, export and sale. Therefore, museums, auction houses, art traders and collectors are urged not to purchase them, and are invited to report their presence to the relevant country's diplomatic mission, to local police authorities and to Interpol.
Note: The images in this publication are of objects held by national museums; they are published here as a comparison guide to help identify objects that may be subject to illegal trafficking.

With the support of :

U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs