Bulldozers, Looting Reported at Mexico's Teotihuacan

Private building crews said to have chased away cops
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 26, 2021 2:21 PM CDT
Bulldozers, Looting Reported at Mexico's Teotihuacan
In this March 19, 2020 file photo, the Pyramid of the Moon, left, and the Pyramid of the Sun, back right, are seen along with smaller structures lining the Avenue of the Dead, in Teotihuacan, Mexico.   (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell, File)

Mexico's government says private building crews are refusing to stop work that threatens one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country, ancient Teotihuacan. At least 25 structures at the protected pre-Aztec site boasting twin pyramids and "hundreds of smaller, more remote, and often unexplored sites" are threatened by heavy machinery, which are still operating despite stop-work orders, the Ministry of Culture says, per the AP. Owners of farm plots across a road from the UNESCO World Heritage site, representing one of the largest ancient cities in the Americas, are apparently trying to turn the land into an amusement park of sorts, the AP reports, noting the government is "unable to enforce building codes and zoning laws or stop illegal construction," even within 30 miles of Mexico City, "in part because of the country's unwieldy, antiquated legal system."

Construction reportedly began earlier this year when traffic to the area was limited by the pandemic. The Culture Ministry says it issued two stop-work orders in March, then filed a criminal complaint in April. The site's director, archaeologist Rogelio Rivero Chong, says police officers who visited the site were threatened by workers brandishing pipes, sticks, and stones, per the BBC. The UN's International Council on Monuments and Sites says 15 acres of the site are at risk. The area includes "archaeological, housing, and monumental remains which are also being looted," says the organization, which is demanding Mexico's government intervene to allow experts to evaluate the damage. It's unclear what further steps the ministry will take, though it says it is committed to protecting the site, whose Aztec name means "the place where the gods were created." (More Teotihuacan stories.)

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