National Museum director suspended amid artifacts controversy

August 13, 2010

 

The Costa Rican culture minister has suspended the director of the National Museum, Patricia Fumero, following allegations that she was violating laws that protect the country’s archaeological heritage.
 
The move follows on the heels of an incident last Thursday, in which more than 100 pre-Columbian pieces were removed from a home belonging to Fumero’s aunt and uncle. Her family was allegedly holding the pieces in violation of a 1982 law that declares that all historical artifacts found in the country are the property of the state.
 
During a press conference last week, Fumero said she was aware of the existence of the pieces, and that the museum was initiating the process of collecting them. She added that many of the pieces were already registered with the National Museum.
 
Fumero said she removed herself from any involvement in the case in order not to be involved in a conflict of interest.
 
But apparently that wasn’t enough for Culture Minister Manuel Obregón, who asked her to take a temporary leave on Monday.
 
“I have ordered an audit in the National Museum in order to thoroughly understand the facts and, to ensure the full transparency of the audit, I have also decided to temporarily remove the head of that institution,” he said in a statement.
 
Obregón said the purpose of the audit is to respond to accusations relating to national heritage laws. He said he would cooperate with the prosecutor’s office in any investigation of Fumero or the museum.       
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