Skip to main content

Belize deputy PM calls for prosecutions in pyramid destruction

By Brad Lendon, CNN
May 15, 2013 -- Updated 2149 GMT (0549 HKT)
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
September 15, 2014 -- Updated 2232 GMT (0632 HKT)
ISIS has slaughtered hundreds. Now nearly 40 nations have agreed to take the fight to the militants. But what can they do?
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 0420 GMT (1220 HKT)
For years, Morten Storm moved between two worlds. A radical Islamist turned double agent is lifting the lid on some of the world's best-kept secrets.
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 1253 GMT (2053 HKT)
ISIS has captured the minds of a new generation of global jihadists. What does it mean for al Qaeda?
September 15, 2014 -- Updated 0851 GMT (1651 HKT)
North Korea calls its human rights a "superior system."
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 0512 GMT (1312 HKT)
In Wenzhou, called the "Jerusalem of China," authorities have demolished churches.
September 15, 2014 -- Updated 1504 GMT (2304 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
September 12, 2014 -- Updated 0338 GMT (1138 HKT)
Treated with all due respect, volcanoes can offer some stunning vistas. Just don't fall in.
September 12, 2014 -- Updated 0522 GMT (1322 HKT)
The blogger, the hacker, the PM... and Kim Dotcom? New Zealand's election campaign erupts in scandal.
September 11, 2014 -- Updated 0236 GMT (1036 HKT)
In the aftermath of that deadly day, the enemy quickly became clear. But now a plurality of extremist threats tests global resolve.
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 1321 GMT (2121 HKT)
Soviets put stray dogs into orbit. Then, next thing you know...
September 12, 2014 -- Updated 0928 GMT (1728 HKT)
Her name is Thokozile Matilda Masipa, and she is the woman who will rule whether Oscar Pistorius is a murderer.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT