Comments on Machu Picchu by Nick Asheshov

Locura en Machu Picchu

Normally it is strikers --teachers, transportistas, alcaldes, regantes, los pobladores de Aguas Calientes-- who block tourists from getting to Machu Picchu. But today it is la autoridad misma in the shape of the INC Cuzco, aka Direccion Regional de Cultura, which has in the past week stopped thousands of tourists from their once-in-a-lifetime visit to our Maravilla.

The INC-Cuzco is suddenly enforcing a strict daily limit of 2,500 on the number of tourists who are allowed to visit the Ciudadela de Machu Picchu. It might seem symbolic that we are telling tourists to stay away at the same time that we have been broadcasting to the world the MP Discovery Centennial.
Symbolic perhaps, but sadly only of the permanent confusion surrounding our management of the great achievements of past civilizations in South America.

The INC Cuzco says that a limit of 2,500 entry tickets per day has been imposed by UNESCO but this is untrue, and the INC-Cuzco knows it. UNESCO has simply and rightly said that Machu Picchu must be managed properly if it is to retain the Unesco imprimatur.
The fact is that the INC-Cuzco has over the past decade proved itself to be incapable of managing not just MP but the other invaluable ruins which form a basic part of the world's heritage. A new government is a good time to replace a failed gestion with a modern, academicly respectable, world-class organization.
Just as one example, the INC, an everyone else, has completely failed to protect the Sanctuario de MP against the uncontrolled expansion of the nasty, dangerous, totally illegal barriada of Aguas Calientes which today controls entry to the ruins.

The Sanctuario of MP includes more than 30,000 hectares of belleza cultural y natural. But only 4.5 hectares --the central plazas-- are seen by nine out of ten visitors. It is this that creates the shouting crowds of tourists, not some arbitrary, un-studied figure drawn out a hat, as the INC-Cuzco has done.
The sudden cut-off comes at the height of the tourist season and has left thousands of rightly furious visitors from abroad stuck in long, miserable madrugada lines in Aguas Calientes.

Everyone understands that the number of visitors has to be controlled. But the INC has made no studies and its Plan Maestro of several years ago was a botched, untechnical effort that was in any case never put into effect.

Perhaps as the root of the problem/madre cordero is that the INC is staffed by low-level local archaeologists totally unqualified to manage a world-class tourist attraction. They are also unqualified to handle the tough, often unscrupulous Cuzco entrepreneurs who in the past decade have turned Aguas Calientes, which hardly existed until 1998, into a hundred disreputable hotels, hostales, restaurants dominated by the noisy, smelly buses which have an illegal US$20mn/pa monopoly on transport up to the ruins.
It is the two thousand or so inhabitants of Aguas Calientes together with the bureaucrats of the INC-Cuzco who completely control MP, our great national treasure, not to mention the US$2bn tourism industry.
The INC people often reconstruct Inca walls and buildings with little or no technical criteria. They have done no worthwhile research and zealously block foreign archaeologists. MP remains a mystery partly thanks to the INC.
There is no pretense of management. Visitors are not allowed to take in even a sandwich. To go to the bathroom, they have to go all the way back to the main entrance which involves checking their passports --to go to the loo!
The new government has an opportunity today to get rid of the INC --it is beyond reform-- and put in a new modern management to save our heritage


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