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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

To all those concerned for the preservation of cultural heritage:

We, Benicio Ramos Ocsa, Mayor, and Adolfo del Alamo Sota, Deputy-Mayor, members of the district council of Ollantaytambo, in the Department of Cusco, as democratically elected representatives of the townspeople, are writing to you in the hope of avoiding the destruction of the integrity of the archaeological monument and historic human settlement of Ollantaytambo.

At this time, the monument is in imminent danger from the projected construction of the Ollantaytambo-Alfamayo-Quillabamba-Kiteni national highway (projected to extend to Camisea), which would cross the entire archaeological zone, whichever of the three possible routes is chosen.

If this were to happen:

Despite the proposals of the Cusco branch of the Instituto Nacional de Cultura and the Ministry of Transport and Communications, as stated in the report presented by the engineering consultants, Visa Consultores S.A., such that the highway could "cross an area of Inca terraces with the condition that the edges of the highway could be restored with walls the same as the existing ones," we consider this concept unacceptable. To alter the original configuration of the Inka complex of Ollantaytambo in this way is inadmissible. The terraces cannot be disturbed.

Although it is called the "Highway By-pass Project" by the agencies responsible for promoting this plan, none of the proposals manages to "by-pass" the archaeological and historical complex of Ollantaytambo. The latter covers the entire Vilcanota valley on both sides of the river at Km 68 of the Cusco-Santa Ana railroad, and it would therefore be impossible to avoid the destruction of this heritage if the highway were to be built through this area. It is very important to emphasize that this statement must not be interpreted as an act of opposition to development in this area, but rather as an urgent defensive measure in the face of the imminent destruction of the only living Inka settlement in the world. Therefore, we urgently call upon the competent national and international authorities to seek alternative proposals which would ensure both improved highway communication with the Quillabamba-Kiteni region, and the protection of Ollantaytambo.

We, with all the powers that the law and the people confer upon us, call upon national, governmental, cultural, and international organizations, along with all those who wish to protect this heritage, to support us in the defense of all humanity's inheritance, the Archaeological Park of Ollantaytambo.

Benicio Ramos Ocsa, Mayor
Adolfo del Alamo Sota, Deputy-Mayor
Municipality of the District of Ollantaytambo
Province of Urubamba, Department of Cusco
Tel: + 51 (084) 20-40-30

For a chance to get out of the office and feeling guilty about not paying my dues for more than a year, I decided to visit the SAA headquarters and pay up. To my surprise, I called and found that the SAA office was only several blocks from where I worked. I work in a rather nice new federal building just off K Street and First Street NE in Washington, D.C. The SAA headquarters is just across the train tracks that lead to Union Station, a block to the east on Second Street NE on the corner of I Street.

Well, a walk across the tracks it was, and for the most part I found myself in one of the still undeveloped parts of Washington, D. C. (which is undergoing a boom period, something like Dallas in the early 1980s). I found the SAA headquarters in a renovated train station down in the basement.

After I got through their "security" door in the basement, I discovered a very modern and updated office with lots of skylights, interesting pictures/photos, plants, and a very pleasant staff. I paid my dues and met the executive director, Tobi Brimsek. I spent about a half hour with her and learned quite a bit about the SAA organization. I was very impressed with how things are running there, and will probably drop by again and pick up some back journal issues that I have missed over the last year.

Moral to the story? Pay your dues and stop by the headquarters for a visit when you are in town. It may be the "wrong side of the tracks," but the view from there is quite interesting. ·

Frank Winchell, Archaeologist
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
Washington, D.C.

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Erratum

In SAA Bulletin 17(5): 29­31 we inadvertently identified Gillian E. Newell as professor in the Anthropology Department at the University of Arizona. Newell is a Ph.D. candidate there, not a professor.

In SAA Bulletin 18(1):15 Alex Barker was identified as chief curator of the Dallas Museum of Natural History, a position he no longer holds. He is currently curator of archaeology at the museum.

We apologize for these errors.

 


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