Taíno Confederation calls for Investigation into Archeological Site Destruction

Luquillo, Borikén (Puerto Rico) – In a recent communication to the Puerto Rican Institute of Culture, the United Confederation of Taíno People (UCTP) called for an investigation to determine the damage to an Indigenous archeological site in Luquillo. The UCTP was made aware of the issue after a video report made by advocate Eliezer Molina surfaced on social media. Molina’s video documents extensive damage to ancient pottery as a road was being made into the area's wetlands. 

In the communication to Nancy Santiago, Director, Archeological and Ethnohistory Program at the Puerto Rican Institute of Culture (ICP), the Confederation stated the site was “considered of significant cultural importance to Taíno Peoples and archeologically.” 

Upon initial inquiry, the UCTP has so far determined that the damage caused by heavy machinery is linked to developer Federico Stubbe. The construction is related to a proposed hotel tied to the Marriott company.

“The UCTP is calling on the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture and the government of Puerto Rico to implement the applicable laws for the protection of cultural patrimony in Puerto Rico and immediately halt the construction,” said R. Múkaro Agüeibaná Borrero, President, United Confederation of Taíno People. He continued, stating that “the Confederation is also calling for an in-depth cultural and environmental impact study, including an assessment of the damage, and of the legality of the construction permitting process.” 

The UCTP’s communication to the ICP also notes that what is occurring in Luquillo is a “recurring tragedy on the island as development projects are continuously fast-tracked” regardless of the damage to the archeological record or the concerns of Taíno Peoples. “UCTP representatives are in touch with and support local protests concerning the site. A group of concerned individuals have set up a camp near the area called Campamiento Cangrejo,” stated Tai Pelli, UCTP Human Rights and International Relations Officer. “They have also established a petition that the UCTP supports. 

Evidence shows that the archeological site is connected to wetlands that were protected for decades. The damage could be in violation of several laws including Puerto Rican Public Law 112, July 20th, 1988, which is supposed to protect archaeological sites. Additionally, the damage documented by Molina and others appears to violate U.S. Federal Laws including the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Water Act, Section 404, which is the primary vehicle for Federal regulation of activities that occur in wetlands.

For more information, contact oirrc@uctp.org

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