According to a senior government official, Peru is seeking to criminally charge several Greenpeace activists for damaging the world-renowned Nazca lines during a staged publicity stunt on Tuesday. Aerial photos reveal traces of a walkway that appeared after the activists left a climate change banner stating “Time for Change: The Future is Renewable.” alongside the historical landmark on Monday.
In light of the assertions, Greenpeace, the most visible environmental organization in the world, posted the following statement on their Facebook, “We can assure you that absolutely NO damage was done. The message was written in cloth letters that laid on the ground without touching the Nazca lines. It was assessed by an experienced archaeologist, ensuring not even a trace was left behind.”
At this moment, there is no conclusive evidence that proves that the activists are responsible for the damage. The incriminating photographs were taken yesterday at around 5:05 p.m. by Captain Juan Carlos, but the state of the landmark before the incident is still in question.
Regardless, according to Deputy Culture Minister Luis Jaime Castillo, “[the stunt] is a true slap in the face at everything Peruvians consider sacred.”
The Tribune reports that the message was intended for the delegates of the 190 countries at the U.N. climate talks held in nearby Lima. However, in order to place the banner, the activists had to enter a “strictly prohibited” area beside the famed figure of a hummingbird – an location even the presidents and Cabinet ministers are not allowed to enter without proper authorization to do so. Those who do have permission must also wear special shoes.
“They are absolutely fragile. They are black rocks on a white background. You walk there and the footprint is going to last hundreds or thousands of years,” Castillo said. “And the line that they have destroyed is the most visible and most recognized of all.”
Currently, the government is preventing those responsible from leaving the country until prosecutors file charges. The crime is punishable by up to six years in prison.
“Peru has nothing against the message of Greenpeace. We are all concerned about climate change,” said Castillo. “But the means doesn’t justify the ends.”