US/El Salvador Cultural Property MoU: Call for Comments


The bilateral agreement between the United States and El Salvador to prevent the illicit import of Salvadorian antiquities into the USA is up for renewal. As many of you know, this is the oldest of the US Memoranda of Understanding aimed at stemming the flow of illicit cultural goods into the American market. Every 5 years these MoUs need renewal and part of that process involves seeking comment from the public, particularly members of the public who have knowledge of or interest in this issue. It’s El Salvador’s turn, and I urge anyone with any information about this to step up.

Big news as well: El Salvador would like to add Ecclesiastical objects to the list of cultural objects protected from illicit import into the US. I firmly believe that Sacred Art is probably the category of Latin American cultural object that is most at-risk for theft and trafficking. If not the most, then surely one of the most. If you have info about this type of object from El Salvador, do offer up your comments.

Written comments are due by 11:59pm on 8 July (instructions on how to submit them are here). However, Dr Allison Davis, Cultural Heritage Research Analyst at the State Department and all around amazing heritage pro, notes that people do not have to submit written comment in advance if they would like to speak at the State Department’s Virtual Open Session on the renewal on 23 July. All you have to do is email before 17 July and ask for space to speak. You can do it digitally, you don’t even need to be there.

It only takes a moment to write a letter. It only takes a little while to speak at the digital open session. If you have El Salvador interest or expertise, share it!

[Photo by Moises Rivas]