Skip to main content

Belize deputy PM calls for prosecutions in pyramid destruction

By Brad Lendon, CNN
updated 5:49 PM EDT, Wed May 15, 2013
The 2,300-year-old Mayan pyramid at Noh Mul was destroyed to make fill for roads in Belize, local media report. The 2,300-year-old Mayan pyramid at Noh Mul was destroyed to make fill for roads in Belize, local media report.
HIDE CAPTION
Ancient pyramid destroyed for gravel
Ancient pyramid destroyed for gravel
Ancient pyramid destroyed for gravel
Ancient pyramid destroyed for gravel
Ancient pyramid destroyed for gravel
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • 2,300-year-old Mayan pyramid ripped up for road fill
  • Tourism board alleges involvement by government officials
  • Tourism and culture ministy says full investigation ordered

(CNN) -- The deputy prime minister of Belize is calling for full prosecution of those responsible for destroying a 2,300-year-old Mayan pyramid to turn it into rock for roads.

"All those found responsible for the destruction of this site should be persecuted to the full extent of the law," read a statement from the office of Gaspar Vega, who is also the representative for the Orange Walk area in northern Belize where the Noh Mul pyramid was destroyed last week.

Only a small chunk of the pyramid, which stood about 65 feet tall and was the center of a settlement of about 40,000 people in 250 B.C., remains after backhoes and bulldozers began removing the limestone slabs with which it was built last week. The pyramid stood on private land.

The limestone is favored for building roads in the area, and the local chapter of the Belize Tourism Industry Association alleged in a statement that local government officials have been complicit in the destruction of ancient sites like Noh Mul.

Mayan pyramid bulldozed to make gravel

"Noh Mul had been one of the ancient monuments with the greatest tourism development potential in northern Belize," the association said. "Unfortunately, such progress has been severely hampered due to the ignorance and greed of certain individuals."

"More sites have been destroyed in Orange Walk by the Ministry of Works and others for road fill material than in any other part of the country," the association said it was told by an unnamed senior government official.

In his statement, Vega denied any involvement.

"Minister Vega also emphatically repudiates the allegation and or perception that he was involved in any way with the destruction of the Noh Mul," the statement read.

In a separate statement, Belize's Ministry of Tourism & Culture said it had commissioned a full investigation of the Noh Mul destruction, calling it "callous, ignorant and unforgivable."

"Cultural landmarks such as Noh Mul are sacred artifacts of Belizean history and should be protected at all costs. This expressed disdain for our laws and policies is incomprehensible," the ministry statement said.

Archeologists had similar words for what happened to the pyramid.

"This is one of the worst that I have seen in my entire 25 years of archaeology in Belize," John Morris, an archaeologist with the country's Institute of Archaeology, told local channel 7NewsBelize. "We can't salvage what has happened out here -- it is an incredible display of ignorance."

The institute's director, Jaime Awe, called the destruction "one of the worse set of blows I have felt philosophically and professionally."

Archaeologists said they would ask police to take action against both the landowner and contractor, according to local media reports.

"It is against the law; it is against the nature act to willfully destroy an ancient monument," Awe told News5 in Belize. "Any willful destruction of an ancient site or monument has penalties of 10 years' imprisonment or $10,000 for this kind of destruction."

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 9:54 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
A decade on from devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the Red Cross' Matthias Schmale says that the lessons learned have made us safer.
updated 7:24 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
As soon as word broke that "The Interview" will hit some theaters, celebrations erupted across social media -- including from the stars of the film.
updated 1:44 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Did a rogue hacker -- or the U.S. government -- cut the cord for the regime's Internet?
updated 8:06 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Monaco's newborn royals, Princess Gabriella and Crown Prince Jacques Honore Rainier, posed for their first official photos with their parents.
updated 12:06 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Tim Berners-Lee, the man credited with inventing the world wide web, gives a speech on April 18, 2012 in Lyon, central France, during the World Wide Web 2012 international conference on April 18, 2012 in Lyon.
What's next for the Internet? Acclaimed scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee shares his insights.
updated 3:22 AM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
The United States and North Korea have long been locked in a bitter cycle of escalating and deescalating tensions. But the current cyber conflict may be especially hard to predict.
updated 4:00 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
A chilling video shows Boko Haram executing dozens of non-Muslims.
updated 6:34 AM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
New planes, new flight tests ... but will we get cheaper airfares?
updated 12:46 PM EST, Sun December 21, 2014
The killing of two cops could not have happened at a worse time for a city embroiled in a public battle over police-community relations, Errol Louis says.
updated 9:51 PM EST, Sun December 21, 2014
The gateway to Japan's capital, Tokyo Station, is celebrating its centennial this month -- and it has never looked better.
updated 11:21 AM EST, Sat December 20, 2014
Unicef has warned that more than 1.7 million children in conflict-torn areas of eastern Ukraine face an "extremely serious" situation.
updated 12:01 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT