The World Heritage Centre received the state of conservation report from the State Party on 8 February 2010. The report describes the background of institutional changes undergone in the country since 2008, including the change of status of the Vice Ministry of Culture to the Ministry of Cultures, the authority in charge of the property through the General Directorate of Cultural Heritage and the Archaeology Unit, under the Vice Ministry of Interculturalism. The State Party also reports several changes that affected the operational level and coordination at the site level.
A World Heritage Centre technical assessment follow-up mission, carried out in March 2009 within the framework of the Japanese Funds-in-Trust (JFIT) project, recommended stopping the ongoing excavations in the Akapana Pyramid due to the poor state of its drainage system and significant structural problems. The World Heritage Centre requested the submission of specific technical information regarding the archaeological excavation plan for 2009 as well as technical studies of certain areas of the Pyramid; unfortunately the World Heritage Centre received none of these studies.
The excavation works continued under the Municipality’s supervision even after the National Unit of Archaeology (UNAR) of the Ministry of Cultures had been forced to leave the property.
The report indicates that in July 2009, upon the intervention of the Municipal Government, UNAR stopped the excavations and works carried out at the property, resulting in a loss of the coordinated relations between the Municipality of Tiwanaku and the Ministry of Cultures and therefore a lack of official technical supervision from the Ministry at the property. The Municipality hired archaeologists with unsuitable expertise to conduct the required conservation measures and to continue the interventions.
In September 2009, after obtaining information from the UNESCO Office in Quito, the responsible entity for the implementation of the JFIT project, the World Heritage Centre insisted on the need to halt the excavations and to improve the conservation conditions of the museums. It requested the Government to guarantee an official national counterpart at the property as a matter of urgency. According to the state of conservation report, the unofficial activities carried out by the Municipal Government include interventions on the Akapana Pyramid (archaeological digging for drainages in the eastern area and excavations and research in the southern area and at the top). Interventions on the Putuni structure have also been undertaken, but no technically comprehensive information was submitted.
During the visit of the Minister of Cultures to UNESCO Headquarters in October 2009 on the occasion of the General Assembly of States Parties, the World Heritage Centre met the Minister in order to find solutions to the situation. Subsequently, in November 2009, a follow-up technical assessment mission was carried out to re-evaluate the situation and the World Heritage Centre further requested the State Party to guarantee the conditions for the project to be implemented.
Several commitments were agreed upon, and two new specific studies for the Pyramid were considered necessary and urgent. These studies are being carried out, thanks to a reallocation of budget of the JFIT project. The State Party’s commitments included the nomination of a site manager and a focal point to coordinate the project with UNESCO. In December 2009, a counterpart of the Bolivian Government was assigned; unfortunately in February 2010 this person resigned, leaving the project with no coordinating officer with the State Party once again.
The World Heritage Centre has been informed that a recently approved Municipal Ordinance (N°311/2009) states that any intervention or project at the site has to be approved by authorization of the Municipality. This situation presents a risk, as it leaves the official counterpart of UNESCO, the Ministry of Cultures, with no technical capacity for action at the property. The report submitted by the State Party indicates that this measure is considered completely unconstitutional. It also indicates that the coordinated implementation of the management and conservation plan for the site through 2010 will be conducive to favourable scenarios for collaborative endeavours.
The state of conservation report points out that a private company has finalized works at the Lithic Museum, and the Ministry of Cultures has made observations regarding the fabric and museography. Nevertheless, no precise information on the observations made by the Ministry has been included. The state of conservation of the Lithic and Ceramic Museums is still a matter of concern due to the serious damages to the archaeological objects as a result of humidity and drainage problems.
a) Implementation of the “Project for the preservation and conservation of Tiwanaku and the Akapana Pyramid” funded by the Japanese Funds-in-Trust (JFIT)
Since the official launching of the project at the beginning of 2009, the constant change of authorities has hindered the foreseen implementation. Since 2009 there has been one Vice Minister of Cultures (who became Minister), two Vice Ministers of Interculturality, four Directors of Heritage, and two Ministers of Culture. UNAR has had four Directors, including a three-month period with no person in charge. Recent information indicates that, at the request of the new Minister, the police are carrying out an investigation at UNAR and an audit is being administrated.
In spite of the institutional difficulties, a number of activities from the first year have been put in place. The recommendations from the missions carried out to the property have strongly advised the discontinuation of scheduled activities pending a firm commitment from the State Party to improve the current situation, to guarantee the appropriate follow-up for the project and to accomplish the agreed objectives.
As explained before, urgent action on the Akapana Pyramid was strongly encouraged on repeated occasions and stability studies were commissioned. The November 2009 mission stated the urgency of conducting tomography and topographic studies of the Pyramid to set up the base line for future conservation measures after the inappropriate archaeological interventions carried out on the site. The JFIT project has assumed the costs for developing the studies.
After the tomographic and topographic studies have been finalized and their recommendations have been submitted and analysed by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, an international expert meeting is proposed to draft regulations on archaeological interventions according to international standards and in accordance to the assessment of the Advisory Bodies and other concerned entities.
b) Other conservation issues
At the end of 2009 a substance similar to oil damaged some of the emblematic pieces of the site, Puerta del Sol and monolith Fraile, a conservation treatment procured by the unskilled staff hired by the Municipality. No technical information related to the intervention was submitted.
The report contains information on the coordination measures taken by the Ministry of Cultures and other concerned institutions during the Presidential investiture on 22 January 2009. According to the report, no damages to the state of conservation of the site were recorded but no precise information on measures taken was provided. Through other sources, the World Heritage Centre was informed that about 40 000 attendants were present and activities such as food selling, installation of public bathrooms and the use of stone elements as seats in the protected area had taken place.
c) New information received
During her visit to Paris in March 2010, the Minister of Cultures of Bolivia committed to work on addressing the concerns raised by the World Heritage Centre in relation to the conservation of the property, in particular: the stability of the Akapana Pyramid, the conservation of emblematic steles and the Gate of the Sun, the state of deterioration of the museums and the conservation of their archaeological collections, the lack of an archaeological plan of excavations and the management system. It was agreed that a national counterpart at the national and local levels would be designated. To date, the situation remains the same as in November 2009.
The Minister of Cultures has also informed the World Heritage Centre that the Committee for the Research, Administration and Management of the Archaeological site of Tiwanaku (CIAGSAT), the previous entity for the management of the site, has been dissolved. The Minister is preparing a Presidential Decree for the creation of a new entity in charge of the administration of the property.
The World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS remain deeply concerned about the lack of adequate and efficient institutional arrangements, legal frameworks and technical capacity to guarantee the conservation of the property in spite of the continued declarations of commitment by the State Party. The disrupted relations between the Municipality and the Ministry, resulting in the lack of governance of the property and non operational management arrangements, is causing negative impacts for the preservation of the property and the implementation of conservation projects. In addition, the lack of a buffer zone and land use plans at the municipal level constitute a potential threat to the outstanding universal value, integrity and authenticity of the property.