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  • Visitors at the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu in Cusco, Peru, August 12, 201

    Visitors at the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu in Cusco, Peru, August 12, 201 | Photo: Reuters

Published 9 April 2019

Peru’s Supreme Court ended a 14 year-long battle between an individual family and the nation by declaring the Machu Picchu Inca ruins state property

Peru’s Supreme Court ended a 14 year-long battle between an individual family and the nation by declaring the Machu Picchu Inca ruins state property and not belonging to the Zavaleta family that has laid legal claim to the world-famous archaeological park since 2005.

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The Supreme Court declared Monday that the case filed by the Zavaleta family that sought to seize 22,000 hectares of the national park and Peru’s biggest tourist attraction as unfounded, according to the Peruvian ministry of culture.

This family claimed that the Peruvian State had expropriated the land illegally and without any financial compensation in return. In addition, the Zavaletas demanded compensation of US$45 million in tourist revenues as part of the litigation.

The family filed the lawsuit in 2005 that passed through all levels of Peru’s legal system. The Vice Minister of Cultural Heritage and Cultural Industries, Guillermo Cortes Carcelen, said "however, during this long judicial process, we have demonstrated irrefutably that these lands were expropriated by the General Directorate of Agrarian Reform in the 1960s and 1970s in favor of the State," he said.

Cortes added, "Finally, after 14 years of an arduous legal battle, the Decentralized Directorate of Culture of Cusco has managed to demonstrate that the more than 22,000 hectares of land of Machu Picchu are owned by the Peruvian State and not a family."

The Zavaleta are not the only ones who have claimed Machu Picchu as their own. Sisters, Roxana and Victoria Abril also considered themselves legal heirs of the ruins demanding US$ 100 million in back pay since 2003.

The Machu Picchu royal fortress, famous worldwide was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983, and since 2007, one of the new seven wonders of the world.

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