During 2009, the World Heritage Centre received several press reports and information from the civil society of the city and neighbourhood associations regarding projects and constructions undertaken within the Historic Centre of Cusco, mainly the construction of a Marriot Hotel, the enlargement of the Monastery Hotel (Hotel Monasterio) and the construction of the Commercial Centre (Ima Sumaq). The evaluation of the information raised concerns that certain interventions being carried out or projected could have impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value and affect the conditions of authenticity and integrity of the property. Information was requested from the State Party in compliance with paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines on 16 April 2009, 8 July 2009, 20 September 2009, 21 December 2009 and 13 January 2010.
A report, including a description of the property and an analysis of the Historic Centre’s conservation concerns was received by the World Heritage Centre on 3 February 2010. The main concerns include the loss of built heritage (representing only 29.30% in 1998 versus a 51.32% calculated in previous reports); rapid changes in land use, tourism promotion and commercial activities, provoking a substantial reduction of residential use, an increase in the degradation of living conditions (76.56% of the houses have become slums), lack of heritage conservation consciousness and the need for awareness-raising programmes. Other problems that relate to the management and conservation of the property include the use of obsolete cartographic information and inventories, the changes in the urban landscape derived from illegal settlements, interventions that do not take into account the urban and architectural characteristics of the Historic Centre, loss of the traditional architectural typology due to inappropriate interventions, vehicular traffic, pollution; deficiencies in the solid waste management and a lack of an adequate tourism management plan. It was also emphasized that several political changes between 2007 and 2009 affected the implementation of the Master Plan.
In addition, the State Party submitted official information regarding the following projects:
a) Construction of the Marriot Hotel in the Monasterio de San Agustín
During 2009, the World Heritage Centre received multiple press reports, including information on denouncements from representatives of the Congress and civil society regarding the construction, by RIOJA S.A., of a Marriot Hotel within the Historic Centre of Cusco, more precisely in the Antiguo Monasterio de San Agustín, the first monastery in the City (dated from 1550).
The report indicated that during the approval process of the project, on 27 August 2008 (Dictamen Nº 458-CTCP-MC, Agenda 030-2008) the resolution approving the architectural project indicated that the execution project depended on the results of an archaeological prospection to be undertaken in the presence of National Institute of Culture (INC) archaeologists. A note recalling this condition should have been included in the construction licence; nevertheless according to a copy sent in the report it was not included. The project was definitively approved on 9 October 2008 (Dictamen 559-CTPCP-MC) and obtained construction licence N°154 the same month. In June 2009, the discovery of archaeological remains halted the construction in order to request the INC’s final evaluation and the Municipality’s new authorization. This last resolution (N° 047-09-GDUR-MPC) was appealed by RIOJA S.A. The Municipality declared the construction “partially paralyzed” as the archaeological remains were located in one specific section of construction and there was no need to halt the whole project. According to the report the monitoring of the archaeological works has been completed; however no reports have been received as yet.
As no precise technical and graphic information was submitted by the State Party, no assessment of the impacts project has been carried out at this point.
Civil society institutions have continued to express concern at the risk of damage to the colonial and archaeological heritage. The main concerns were related to the fact that the approval processes were not sufficiently accessible.
The INC sent official information on 1 March 2010 with the final court decision from the Public Ministry on the case of the Neighbours Association of the Historic Centre of Cusco and the Juridical Commission against Corruption and Social Defence against the INC and RIOJA SRL for the approval of the project of the Marriott Hotel. The court decided that no prosecutions should be made.
b) Enlargement of the Monastery Hotel, located in the ancient Beatario de las Nazarenas
As in the case of the Marriott Hotel, the State Party sent a detailed chronology of the approval process for the project, which was finally accepted on 6 November 2009 (Nº 660 CTCPCP-MC) after several corrections. Up to 15 January 2010, archaeological works in Choquehuanca Street were paralyzed awaiting the constitution of the Archaeological Commission of the INC. The report stated that the pre-Columbian walls found were protected, advances have been made on the restoration works, however no detailed technical information was included.
c) Commercial Centre Ima Sumaq
The project was approved by Dictamen Nº276-CTPCP-MC on 25 July 2007. A brief description of the status of the construction up to 15 January 2010 was included. According to the description, the basement works have been paralyzed due to the rise in water table levels. The Inca walls that were found in Loreto Street have been restored and most of the structure of the commercial centre has been completed. No technical information was submitted to be able to assess the potential impact of the project.
The Municipality of Cusco requested the World Heritage Centre to undertake an advisory mission to the property in order to address the impact that the construction of the Monastery Hotel, the Commercial Centre Ima Sumaq and the Marriott Hotel may have on the property. A technical assessment on the implementation of the international conservation standards at the property was also requested.
d) Management Plan and the Management Committee
According to the report sent by the State Party, the political instability and constant changes in the municipal government from 2007 to 2009 hindered the implementation of the Management Plan. The report summarizes the process for the elaboration of a Master Plan since 1999. An abbreviated version of the final document of the Master Plan of Cusco, approved in 2005, has been included.
The report indicated that the Technical Office for the Historic Centre was created to facilitate the conservation, protection and promotion of built heritage and urban spaces within the Historic Centre of Cusco. A description of the works undertaken in 2009 was attached, consisting mainly of the improvement of public spaces and sanitary infrastructure. The report explained that in the framework of the new competencies acquired with the Municipality Organic Law (N° 27972) and according to the Master Plan, the Municipality of Cusco has recently proposed the creation of a Management Unit for the Historic Centre in order to improve the management and conservation of the property. No further information on the creation of this Unit was sent.
In the same report the State Party indicates that a Coordination Committee for the Historic Centre was created, composed of the Mayor, the Regional Director of the INC and the District Mayor when required. The Committee will operate with the assistance of a Technical Secretariat including three representatives of three institutions (not mentioned). The main role of the Technical Secretary will be to propose actions in favour of the Historic Centre and to implement the Management Plan. The Coordination Committee had its first meeting on 18 January 2010.
It is understood that currently the Technical Office for the Historic Centre is the entity in charge of the implementation of activities regarding the conservation of the property. Nevertheless, the relation between the existing office and the creation of a Management Unit and the Coordination Committee is not clear, making it difficult to understand their role in the decision making process for the conservation of Cusco.
e) Other projects undertaken in the property including a map indicating the location of the projects
The State Party sent information regarding the “Plan for the Historic Centre of Cusco (2007-2010)” which is implemented with the support of the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation and Development (AECID). An agreement has been signed in order to support the Municipality of Cusco in carrying out activities for the preservation of the Historic Centre. Most of the projects are related to the valorisation of urban public spaces and the improvement of living conditions of the inhabitants. The foreseen activities for 2010 were not specified and the relation of the activities with the Management Plan of the property is not clear.
Other activities mentioned were the implementation of the Geographic Information System (GIS) system for the cartographic register of the Historic Centre; the elaboration of a socio-economic study to be executed in three years; the opening of the Historic Centre Office; the cataloguing of buildings and urban spaces in the Historic Centre. The terms of reference for the elaboration of the socio-economic study were not included.
In the framework of the agreement with the regional government of Andalucía (Junta de Andalucía - Spain) the following activities were described: the updating of the Master Plan, the integral treatment of the Cuenca of Saphy –Watanay River, an architectural guide of the City of Cusco, the Housing Rehabilitation Programme and the recovery of public spaces. No calendar of activities or terms of reference for the agreement were received.
The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies are deeply concerned about the deterioration process of urban built heritage at the inscribed property. Even though some of the problems of the Historic Centre will be addressed by the new projects, it is still not clear how the National Institute of Culture (INC) and the Municipal authority will effectively deal with the degradation of living conditions, the constant changes in land use and the loss of residential uses. Similarly, decision-making mechanisms and responsibilities for the property need to also be identified in light of existing legislative frameworks.
There is also concern about the impacts on the property after the torrential rains and flooding that occurred in February 2010, particularly in relation to the water carrying capacity of soils and on the conservation conditions of built heritage that sustains the Outstanding Universal Value of the property.
More information on how the Organic Municipal Law will affect the competencies of the Municipality and the National Government in relation to heritage preservation is needed. The elaboration of a Public Use Plan addressing touristic practices should start as soon as possible.
In response to the recent impacts of torrential rains at Cusco and Machu Picchu, a technical visit by the UNESCO World Heritage Centre was carried out in February 2010 to Lima, Peru. World Heritage Centre staff met with the Ministers of Environment and Tourism, Directors of the INC and Servicio Nacional de Areas Protegidas de Perú (SERNANP), Civil Defense organization INDECI and the National Institute of Geology and Mines and Metals. The World Heritage Centre expresses its concern about the impacts of the vast inundation that affected the water-carrying capacity of soils and the built heritage of the urban area.