June 23, 2020

Funding cuts threaten ancient sites, warn Mexican archaeologists
Sharp reduction in heritage body’s budget is part of wider savings due to Covid-19 costsThe Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador has often boasted of the strength and longevity of Mexican culture and learning, once saying that “when buffalo were still grazing in what is now New York, there were already universities and printing presses in Mexico”.But archaeologists fear that a recent wave of swingeing budget cuts will decimate research into the country’s pre-Columbian past, and leave thousands of ancient sites – including Aztec temples and Mayan cities – at the mercy of looters.More than 6,000 scholars recently signed a letter begging the president, commonly referred to as Amlo, to reconsider a 75% cut to the operating budget of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH).“These draconian cuts will have an inevitable impact on our heritage, and on the training of new anthropologists, historians and conservationists,” said Leonardo López Luján, one of Mexico’s leading archaeologists.“If this policy isn’t reversed soon, we’ll be sacrificing our past and our future.”The cutbacks to INAH – a 700m pesos ($32m, £25m) reduction in 2020 – form part of a broader cost-cutting drive announced in April. Mexico’s 182 nature reserves and the search for the country’s 60,000 missing people will also be affected.López Obrador insists that resources need to be directed towards Mexico’s hard-pressed hospitals as the Coronavirus pandemic worsens. Mexico’s official death toll is more than 20,000 and confirmed cases exceed 170,000; few doubt that the real figures are much higher.But critics question the need to inflict a further round of austerity on a field that was already struggling to survive.INAH is responsible for preserving 193 heritage sites open to the public, 53,000 closed archaeological sites, 162 museums, 120,000 monuments, dozens of libraries and archives and three schools, López Luján explained.Its budget was cut by a fifth last year, and hundreds of workers were fired. As cartel-related violence grows, archaeologists at remote field sites increasingly report threats and violence.The latest round of cuts to INAH would make Mexico’s flagship heritage body “completely inoperative” for years to come, said López. “We’ll go into hibernation mode.”“It will be a tough road ahead,” agreed Diana Moreiras, an anthropologist at the University of British Columbia. “We have such a rich cultural heritage and as Mexicans we all gain from its protection, conservation and research.”Moreiras said she was sympathetic to the need to make sacrifices, and government officials have promised – so far without details – that the core functions of INAH will be maintained.But the rationale for such deep cutbacks is unclear as López Obrador presses ahead with expensive projects of dubious value, including revamped Oil refineries and the “Tren Maya,” a sprawling tropical railroad that critics claim will trample indigenous communities and archaeological material in its path.Macario Schettino, an economist, described plans to cut government spending by up to a third across the board – except for the health ministry and the armed forces – as absurd.“I don’t think it’s explicable. I think it’s a terrible decision,” said Schettino. “It will be impossible for public bodies to function. “The government has serious financing problems, it’s not taxing enough and the economic crisis is very deep,” he said. “But all governments around the world are taking on debt to confront this crisis, because this is the rational decision. I think we’re the only ones who aren’t.”Even Jair Bolsonaro’s Brazil has abandoned austerity plans to cope with the pandemic. López Obrador, a self-described leftist who won the presidency and control of Congress in 2018 vowing to transform the country, has yet to raise Mexico’s historically low tax rates. The latest body blow to Mexican archaeology comes as researchers make fascinating new discoveries – from a mass grave of hunted mammoths just outside Mexico City, to the oldest and largest Maya structure found to date.“I just can’t see how suffocating INAH could support indigenous cultures,” said David Stuart, director of the Mesoamerica Center at the University of Texas, Austin. “It can only undermine the nation’s remarkable history and its deep indigenous past.“The Spanish conquest was exactly 500 years ago, not that long ago. Mesoamerican cultures can be traced 3,000 beyond that,” Stuart added. “How can that deep heritage not be important in the present day?”
Related Stories
Latest News
Top news around the world
Coronavirus Disease

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.

Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.

Around the World

Celebrity News

> Latest News in Media

Watch It
Tekashi 6ix9ine, bodyguards ride NYC subway without masks | Page Six Celebrity News
August 11, 2020
cq8HI8VjEvw
'Top Model' contestant on Tyra Banks hosting 'Dancing with the Stars’ | Page Six Celebrity News
August 11, 2020
eT2BVjHvljE
Howard Stern’s advice to Ellen DeGeneres: ‘Just be a p—k’ | Page Six Celebrity News
August 11, 2020
_6r4GEf34KQ
Swedish Royal Family: Scandals, Romance & More | E! News
August 12, 2020
Kmx57HdDM90
Luke Bryan Calls "Lady A" Name Change "A Mess" | E! News
August 12, 2020
RnV5mA84L2g
Did Justin Hartley Just Go Instagram Official With Sofia Pernas? | Daily Pop | E! News
August 12, 2020
enBij0mItbY
'Schitt's Creek' Cast and Comics Surprise Eugene Levy During His Lifetime Achievement Award
August 11, 2020
DysVIh-vzQw
'A Thousand Cuts' Journalist Maria Ressa on Freedom of the Press
August 06, 2020
FEI1t5k1C4w
Jordan Fisher on 'The Big Ticket' with Marc Malkin
August 06, 2020
1ceuwyhbuwc
Ryan Reynolds, Paul McCartney Nominated for First Nation's Next Chief | TMZ
August 12, 2020
8ptO2CGNr74
Smash Mouth Concert Packed at Sturgis, Singer Says 'F That Covid S**t' | TMZ
August 12, 2020
a68PXpg01NA
Andrew Yang Bonded with 'Warm, Friendly' Sen. Kamala Harris Early in Campaign | TMZ
August 12, 2020
PTegx2-3ITY
TV Schedule
Late Night Show
Watch the latest shows of U.S. top comedians

Sports

Latest sport results, news, videos, interviews and comments
Latest Events
01
Aug
ITALY: Serie A
Juventus - Roma
01
Aug
ITALY: Serie A
AC Milan - Cagliari
01
Aug
ITALY: Serie A
Napoli - Lazio
01
Aug
ITALY: Serie A
Atalanta - Inter Milan
29
Jul
ITALY: Serie A
Torino - Roma
29
Jul
ITALY: Serie A
Cagliari - Juventus
29
Jul
ITALY: Serie A
Sampdoria - AC Milan
28
Jul
ITALY: Serie A
Inter Milan - Napoli
26
Jul
ENGLAND: Premier League
Manchester City - Norwich City
26
Jul
ENGLAND: Premier League
Arsenal - Watford
26
Jul
ENGLAND: Premier League
Leicester City - Manchester United
26
Jul
ITALY: Serie A
Juventus - Sampdoria
26
Jul
ENGLAND: Premier League
Chelsea - Wolves
26
Jul
ENGLAND: Premier League
Newcastle United - Liverpool
26
Jul
ENGLAND: Premier League
Crystal Palace - Tottenham Hotspur
26
Jul
ITALY: Serie A
Roma - Fiorentina
25
Jul
ITALY: Serie A
Napoli - Sassuolo
25
Jul
ITALY: Serie A
Genoa - Inter Milan
24
Jul
ITALY: Serie A
AC Milan - Atalanta
Find us on Instagram
at @feedimo to stay up to date with the latest.
Featured Video You Might Like
-g9Qziqbif8 0vmRhiLHE2U JFCZUoa6MYE UfN5PCF5EUo 2PV55f3-UAg W3y9zuI_F64 -7qCxIccihU pQ9gcOoH9R8 g5MRDEXRk4k tudKp5Vhs3k iwWHibhssSo kQr0XHPbICM
Copyright © 2020 Feedimo. All Rights Reserved.