Monday, 29 October 2007

Quilmes

We hopped off the bus in Amaicha and by a stroke of luck we were approached by a local called Sebastian Pastrana (www. sumajpacha.com Tel 54 (03892) 421433 who runs a native tour of the Quilmes ruins. You can do the tacky touristy tour from other outfits but it was extremely interesting getting the local insight into what continues to be a tragic situation.
The 'Machu Pichu-esk' ruins (much of which have been restored) date from the 9th century A.D. but the inhabitants were brutally conquered and then scattered by the Spanish in the 17th century, after resisting capture for 130 years and only a fraction of the original population of 5000 were able to remain and settle in the area.
Most of the artifacts including mummies were pilfered and sold to private collections during the military dictatorship in the 1970's.
Worse was to come however as the gangster X-president Menem privatized the ruins (making himself and his cronies a nice tidy profit as usual) with the result that the local descendants get nothing from what is actually their land. A court case to retrieve their land is ongoing but with most of the judicial system in the pockets of the politicains, the outlook is far from positive.

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