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Author vantcj1
Partaker
#16 | Posted: 13 May 2013 23:51 | Edited by: vantcj1 
Hi, everyone! I'll try to give an answer to some of the questions made by Solivagant and then I'll move to some of the issues, as (perhaps) the only latin american in the forum right now. And sorry for the delay, I've worked all of the weekend on a project :

1. Definitively the fact that Costa Rica crashed in such a hard way with its first cultural nominations was instrumental in avoinding any further action on any of these possible sites. We have to remember that in those times the list was monument biased and in that respect, Costa Rica doesnīt have anything with the scale of a mayan city, a colonial town (Cartago was ruined in 1841 and 1910 by deadly earthquakes and even so, it didn't have anything comparable to Peru or Mexico) or a historic center. If it had kept its integrity, maybe some areas of San Jose, Cartago or Heredia could have made to the list for its 1850-1950 beaux arts to modernism heritage, but they didn't. So, together with the fact that in the early 70s it got momentum a extensive process of natural conservation, and La Amistad got inscription, I think those processes fueled the country to concentrate on proposing natural sites.

But I think we could have still a coffee cultural landscape centered around Los Santos region, higher Turrialba and maybe northwestern Alajuela. The churches in areas of Puriscal, Mora, Los Santos and Turrialba remind me of the Chiloe churches. Many towns have still some remains of their historic centers. There are still some haciendas, churches and schools that could go into a serial nomination with Liberia's historic center, in Guanacaste. And so on, what I see is that other countries in the last two decades have got to inscribe sites that are comparable to what I see in terms of cultural heritage in my country. But I think thatīs not going to happen. Real, effective cultural protection has arrived late as a priority to my country.

I think it was Assif who mentioned Guayabo, in Northwestern Turrialba. It's the same case, but again, when I compare to sites already in the list I wonder if it would have the chance now. This is one of the few cases of a well managed site in my country, a renovation process is ongoing URL and findings are always published in the news as the precolumbian roadway is unveiled further east and the hydrological management and engineering of the mounds is explained and generates admiration for the sofistication of that society. Possibly that's why they went instead for a declaration of a heritage of engineering with the American Civil Engineering Association. But Guayabo is not the only such site of the Central cultural area, of course it is the most protected, but there are others, such as: Aguacaliente (the capital of El Guarco chief), Ta'lari, Cutris in San Carlos and the right now heavily studied Mercedes, in Guacimo county. URL But most costa ricans know nothing of those other sites, it was until I got to buy a book on costa rican architecture that I found out about them.

2. I hadn' heard anything about that T list site, not even a word in the media. That speaks volumes about the way it had been managed until now the process of tentative list and candidacies. It was rather an incidental thing than a real intention to have something really representative. I think, it could be an interesting candidacy, if it had been put forward in 1996 when most areas of the railroad still had some integrity. Right now the country, with severe transportation problems has turned back its eyes to the railroad (at least as a commuter service from Cartago to Alajuela), but again, the integrity of the system is being lost for the necessity to change almost everything, which was neglected. Some stations have been restored, like those in San Jose URL and Cartago URL but others are falling in pieces like those in Peralta de Turrialba URL, Paraiso URL, Turrialba downtown URL URL or Siquirres URL and/or no longer exist, like the ones of Estrada URL or Limon downtown URL. Even bridges as those in Birris River, Paraiso URL, Guacimo URL, Reventazon in Siquirres URLor Guacimito rivers URL remain. So, I see rather difficult to put out a candidacy of something that has been lost by most, and as in the case of the rail line and the plantations, they have been subject to transformations as time goes by and activities change. So, I see the colombian proposal as an intelligent bet, as it is said, they are seeking to fill gaps in the list.

That brings us to another dimension of a plantation system fromthe UFCO: victorian caribbean architecture. It was something rather common in the Caribbean and unusual in the rest of the country. And I think it had/has fine examples in Limon URL URL URL that have suffered a process of deep stagnation in its economy, so it would help to protect the remains and propel tourism in one of our most unsafe areas. Additionally, there are some remaining villages with the original layouts, I remember the case of San Alberto in Siquirres municipality (don't google it, it's useless), and some scattered houses in areas around Limon and Guapiles.


Caribbean architecture, for its intelligent use of passive strategies, and adaptation to the site has become a referent of part of our modern architecture URL, URL URL. Later than in the Caribbean, in the Southern Pacific area of Costa Rica it was developed again a plantation model in the 1930s, I think that makes a stronger case, as some areas of Quepos URL, Palmar Sur and Golfito URL keep several aspects of that era, both in terms or architecture, layout, feel and continuing activity. But still, not something with the high standards of integrity or authenticity that are demanded to become a WHS

Author vantcj1
Partaker
#17 | Posted: 14 May 2013 01:35 | Edited by: vantcj1 
For the other aspects:
3. I'm not very much into those issues, still of course have seen the nicaraguan T list and I think they could find some other areas to approach. Differently from Costa Rica, they have really a worthwile set of colonial and early 19th century architecture as we said Granada, but Leon has other interesting churches that influenced churches in Costa Rica (by that time the poorest colony in the Spanish empire, depending from Nicaragua) and could make even stronger the case in Leon cathedral for criteria ii. I give this images as a comparison URL between a church in Leon and another in Heredia, CR URL.

But I think they lack the imagination for approaching heritage from so many angles, exchanges and not just the cathedral/monastery/historic center/castle thing. And I wonder when I see the T lists from other countries if that's not really something that transcends central american countries. Why not, for example extending the San Pedro de la Roca fort with examples in Central America, to create a transboundary site, with El Castillo de la Inmaculada that you mentioned URL, San Felipe de Lara in Guatemala URL and Omoa in Honduras URL. Why not cultural landscapes for banana or coffee plantations, or the miskitos villages (even with the intangible heritage proclamation for their language) and so on. That's another reason France, Germany, Italy or Spain are so well ahead from developing countries, because they scan every single thematic approach that could be inscribed.

I think indeed Granada should refocus its proposal, to make it something different, IUCN could laugh at the "huge" natural heritgage of that small area of the lake around the city if they see it proposed for natural criteria. With the case of El Fuerte de la Inmaculada, I guess the inclusion of the Indio Maiz reserve would make a stronger case for mixed heritage. But it's unsuitable as you know, because of nicaraguan plans for a canal. And let's not forget that we're talking about one of the poorest countries in the Americas, so they should think better on what has a real potential for passing through Icomos or IUCN without failing.

In fact after the three main reasons that you mentioned for a inscription, there is the responsability to preserve the sites, and that demands money, expertise, trained personnel,. continuing monitoring and research...and many countries can't do that (or don't want to), especially if preservation is seen as a minor priority and there are other projects that have stronger appeal in the short term. A WH inscription can sound very 'romantic', but it demands very much in a long term and can result in a national embarrassment.

With respect with mayan heritage, if Belice doesn't get an interest, Guatemala could propose something like this http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/5737/ that makes a strong case. Even those murals in Naj Tunich or San Bartolo, they are a gap. So, there is space still for inscriptions. Something I always think is that if Northern Italy or central Spain have so many historic centers inscribed, there are so many roman sites in the Mediterranean and so many orthodox monasteries, why not some more mayan sites.

Finally, with respect to other american countries, I see a descending trend in candidacies from Latin America, but I'm glad that African ones are on the rise. Brazil is almost mono thematic: colonial sites. They could propose natural sites almost ad infinitum, but don't do and they could propose imperial Petropolis. Sometime Curitiba parks will be maybe listed.
Argentina I think is resented in the (I think) too hard evaluations that La Plata and Buenos Aires got, I haven't read extensively those evaluations, but a better proposed and selected set of sites in both cities could have been inscribed if they had done things diffeerently. They have tons of other sites that could be of interest. When Chile had Humberstone, Santa Laura and Sewell inscribed I thought they finally were doing their job, but thet lapsed, so I hope they will start again after Qapaq Ņan passes. Peru...unbelievable the lack of interest vs. what they could be proposing year after year, as Iran does. Ecuador has still room. Venezuela...they don't have so strong cases, Hacienda Chuao could do if well proposed (and fill a gap), Ciudad Bolivar (I liked the pictures, but as natural heritage too, I don't know). Cuba could try a last historic center with Matanzas, and their modern heritage stands out. Dominican Republic, I think that's another El Salvador, they don't try anymore. Haiti, they have enormous priorities right now, but would be nice if they restored all that gingerbread victorian architecture. Mexico has potential right now for industrial (La Constancia Mexicana) and natural heritage, saving someother historic centers. I really liked the pictures of the Acueducto del Padre Tembleque.

But the country for me which has most potential is Colombia. They have the banana plantations, the andean and intermediate precolumbian cultures, lush natural heritage in the Amazonian area not so destroyed by the civil war, Andean volcanoes, marine heritage, some historic centers (Villa de Leyva, Tunja, even rebuilt Popayan, an extension of the coffee heritage to Antioquia), mining heritage, historicist architecture, and some well regarded modern architecture (I trully recommend German's Samper housing and Rogelio Salmona is not just the Virgilio Barco library URL URL URL URL URL or URL.

Furthermore, right now Medellin and Bogota are doing extremely interesting things in modern and socially responsible urban planning that will sometime in the future leak into the list URL URLURL URL URL

With this, I think I have commented on all those issues. I hope that Latin american countries will do a greater thinking on what to propose in the next years, to achieve a more balanced list. And that implies seeing the examples of Western European countries, Iran and China to see why they have achieved, from a more strategic point of view.

Author Solivagant
Partaker
#18 | Posted: 14 May 2013 01:58 | Edited by: Solivagant 
vantcj1:
Hi, everyone! I'll try to give an answer to some of the questions made by Solivagant and then I'll move to some of the issues, as (perhaps) the only latin american in the forum right now.


vantcj - Thanks for the comprehensive and interesting answers and all the additional information and thoughts!! It is great to have someone on the forum who can provide a "local" insight on Central/South America/Caribbean - and a view from there on what is happening around the rest of the World.

Author vantcj1
Partaker
#19 | Posted: 14 May 2013 02:59 
Well, Solivagant, it's a pleasure to bring a little of insight from this part of the world. I'll keep on participating according to the best of my ability.

Author Euloroo
Partaker
#20 | Posted: 14 May 2013 09:09 | Edited by: Euloroo 
vantcj1:
With respect with mayan heritage

Tragic what's just taken place in Belize

Author vantcj1
Partaker
#21 | Posted: 14 May 2013 13:17 | Edited by: vantcj1 
Well, I saw the news today. It's tragic, but somewhat, not surprising. I will not insist too much on the points I expressed, but in a minor scale it happens all the time in countries like Belice or like mine. If a site is not public property, and it is not declared as national heritage, there is very little to do about. In some places there aren't even inventories of local heritage.

There is a second reason: short term earnings are much easier to grasp than long term, expensive preservation. There are minds so square that they can't conceive a national state preventing them from gaining big money for their bussinesses. And even a national protection isn't sometimes enough, as in some places there aren't enough incentives or there aren't many examples of a national heritage site turned into a success story (gratefully in my country that is changing) or a real local support or identification.

I don't say it all applies in this case, but that happens every time someone who's building a road, a real state development, a hotel or so on finds that there are archaeological findings, an old house, a mangrove or something else in their property, if no one tells the government about it so it can react and do preventive action, they bulldoze it in the middle of the night.

Author Assif
Partaker
#22 | Posted: 5 Jul 2013 17:45 

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