Greenpeace apologises for Peru stunt that may’ve harmed Nazca Lines

NZ Herald-AP | 11 Dec 2014

The environmental group Greenpeace has apologised to Peruvians upset by its stunt at the world-famous Nazca lines, which authorities say harmed the archaeological marvel.

The apology followed a senior official’s announcement that Peru would seek criminal charges against Greenpeace activists who allegedly damaged the lines by leaving footprints in the adjacent desert.

Greenpeace regularly riles governments and corporations it deems environmental scofflaws.

But the stunt timed to coincide with UN climate talks in nearby Lima may have backfired.

In a statement, Greenpeace said it was “deeply concerned about any offense” Peruvians may have taken.

The activists entered a “strictly prohibited” area beside the famed figure of a hummingbird, Peru’s Culture Ministry said in a statement.

The message was intended for delegates from 190 countries at the U.N. climate talks being held in nearby Lima.

Deputy Culture Minister Luis Jaime Castillo said no one, not even presidents and Cabinet ministers, is allowed without authorization where the activists trod, and those who do have permission must wear special shoes.

The Nazca lines are huge figures depicting living creatures, stylized plants and imaginary figures scratched on the surface of the ground between 1,500 and 2,000 years ago. They are believed to have had ritual astronomical functions.

“They are absolutely fragile. They are black rocks on a white background. You walk there and the footprint is going to last hundreds or thousands of years,” Castillo said.

“And the line that they have destroyed is the most visible and most recognized of all.”

Not the first time Greenpeace has angered governments

Greenpeace regularly riles governments and corporations with actions that sometimes lead to arrests and jail.

In March, seven activists were arrested for unfurling banners from the roof of the headquarters of Procter & Gamble Co. to protest the corporation’s use of palm oil that Greenpeace linked to rainforest destruction.

A lawyer for the seven said last week that they would plead guilty to lesser charges of criminal trespass to avoid a trial on felony charges.

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