Family Tells UN: We Own Machu Picchu

Asks UN agency to consider their case
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 12, 2011 4:05 PM CDT
Peruvian Family Tells United Nations It Owns Machu Picchu Ruins
Tourists walk among the ruins of the Machu Picchu citadel, 130 km northwest of Cusco, Peru on July 6, 2011. The Inca compound is being prepared for the centennial commemoration of its discovery by American adventurer and archaeologist Hiram Bingham in 1911. Machu Picchu recognized as a World Wonder...   (Getty Images)

Talk about a property dispute: A Peruvian family says it owns the land of the Machu Picchu ruins, and is taking the case to the United Nations. Seventy-year-old Edgar Echegaray Abril still has the sale deed showing that his family bought the land with gold in 1910. Yes, they sold it to another family in 1944, but not the ruins—which were being expropriated by the state. And the state never paid up, Abril tells the Telegraph .

"In Peru, as in international law, if the property is not expropriated from you, you don't lose it," says a lawyer for the Abrils. So they're asking the UN agency UNESCO to settle the case by pressuring Peruvian officials. The Zavaleta family, who bought the Abrils' land in 1944, are also claiming compensation—for a 22,000-hectare swath in Machu Picchu Archaeological Park. At least so far, Peru isn't biting, and says Machu Picchu "belongs to all Peruvians." (Read more Peru stories.)

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