Machu Picchu word war flares as alumni say, ‘Cool it’

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Peru is considering “criminally denouncing” Yale officials in a long-running dispute over Machu Picchu artifacts, a government minister said this weekend.

Peru has sued Yale over the artifacts, which Yale archeologist Hiram Bingham ’98 took – with government permission — from the ancient Incan ruins in 1911. The South American country plans a centennial celebration of Machu Picchu’s rediscovery for next July, and has demanded the items’ return before then.

Now Peruvian authorities “are evaluating the possibility of ‘criminally denouncing the Yale officials,’” says Council of Ministers chief Jose Antonio Chang, according to the Latin American Herald Tribune.

In an October 24 statement, Yale interprets the threat “as a means of pressuring Yale to settle” the lawsuit and as a sign of weakness.

“Throughout the recent dispute . . . Yale has made it clear that it is willing to negotiate an amicable resolution,” the statement says. Threatening criminal action “is an obstacle, not an invitation to settlement. This dispute cannot be resolved by threats. If the government of Peru has concluded that its U.S. lawsuit will not succeed, that is a reason to reach an amicable resolution, not to commence unfounded legal proceedings.” (Full text below.)

The university has not yet responded to a letter from 23 alumni living in Peru, urging Yale to resolve the dispute....

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