Delegates and representatives from 30 countries across Latin America and the Caribbean met in the Chilean capital in December to discuss the management of World Heritage sites in the region for the next seven years.
Called the Final Meeting of the Second Cycle of the Periodic Report of the World Heritage Exercise for Latin America and the Caribbean, the summit was convened to identify high priority areas of multilateral cooperation in the region.
The summit’s findings will be put to the United Nations Organization for Education, Science, and Culture (UNESCO) in January, 2013.
Included in that dossier will be a request to grant World Heritage status to Qhapaq Ñan, the Great Inca Road that formed the main artery of a transport network that spanned the western length of the continent, from Quito, Ecuador, in the north to Mendoza, Argentina, passing through Chile from the Atacama to the site of modern-day Santiago.
Also running through Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, and the heartland of the Inca empire, Perú, the Qhapaq Ñan itself stretches 3,700 miles (6,000 kilometres) along the spine of the Andes.
Chile’s Culture Minister Luciano Cruz-Coke, used the conference to promote Chile’s focus on gaining UNESCO World Heritage status not just for architectural sites, but for living traditions and practices.
“Heritage is represented in buildings and monuments that we inherited from our ancestors, it’s also manifested in traditions and rites,” Cruz-Coke said at the inauguration of the event.
The minister pointed toward Chile’s Living Human Treasures, a program which recognizes and promotes folkloric practitioners across the country.
People recognized by the Living Human Treasures include the crin horsehair weavers from the town of Rari, as well as Cristina Calderón, last speaker of Chile’s indigenous Yaghan language.
Chile’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites include the wooden churches of Chiloé, abandoned nitrate oficinas in the Atacama Desert, and the famous moái statues of Easter Island.