LIMA – A group of Peruvian teenagers found it funny to vandalize the Chan Chan archaeological site, one of the most important in the country, and uploaded their “adventures” to YouTube, sparking a wave of indignation across the country.
The boys, who were apparently taking a graduation trip after finishing high school, are seen kicking and throwing rocks at the ancient walls of Chan Chan, which is 1,200 years old and the biggest adobe city in Latin America.
The news spread when several online editions of local media posted the video, which was made by the teens themselves and who still have not been detained although it is known which school they went to.
The video shows three youths laughing as if playing a game, kicking the walls and throwing rocks at some of the reliefs preserved in what is known as Huaca del Dragon (Tomb of the Dragon), a part of the Chan Chan fortress.
While engaged in their stunts, the three adolescents are urged on by another who is doing the filming and who speaks in a loud Spanish accent.
“Let’s see how we can ruin everything. Give it a kick, I want to see it. You don’t love your Peru, right? Come on, put a hole in it,” the fourth individual says.
The city of adobe, which was declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 1986, is located outside the city of Trujillo, 570 kilometers (354 miles) north of Lima.
Indignant reactions weren’t long in coming, and the director of the National Culture Institute, or INC, Cecilia Bakula, gave a press conference Friday in which she condemned this “act of vandalism.”
Bakula also said that criminal complaints have now been filed in Lima and Trujillo for damages to an archaeological monument.
“The damages can be repaired, but what is worrying is how they could attack a monument like this. It’s like an attack against a child, against someone or something that can’t defend itself,” the INC director said, adding that “the damage done to Peru’s image is very grave.”
The deputy minister for educational administration, Idel Vexler, asked that “the students responsible for this and their parents” make a public apology right at Huaca del Dragon, “without any reduction in the punitive sanctions that may result.”
Vexler also said that the sanction should be accompanied by the impounding of their school diplomas, since the students seen in the video had finished their last year of high school.
“For that reason I have suggested to the director of the local educational administration unit (Ugel) that, after the process of investigation and verification, an evaluation of conduct be done and if necessary, that their diplomas be retained,” the official said.
The authority in charge of the monument’s preservation, Cristobal Campana, for his part regretted that “because they are students, they can’t be put in jail.”
The INC director in La Libertad, the region where the monument is located, called the incident a “serious attack,” though he said that the damages could be repaired quite quickly.
Meanwhile, on the different Web sites showing the video, whose original has been removed by YouTube where it first appeared, hundreds of comments have been posted by indignant Peruvian cybernauts pouring on the insults in describing the vandals.