Fraust’s denial

Every time pre-Spanish goods are put up for auction at the famous houses in New York, London or Paris, the authorities of our country fold themselves into the flag and demand that they be suspended as illegal and that these objects be returned to Mexico. become part of the national heritage. All these attempts fail, because if there are no reports of theft of the items offered, these sales are not illegal. The last one was last week, when 27 pre-Spanish pieces were auctioned by the Casa Millon in Paris.

Culture Minister Alejandra Frausto, between the emotional and the ridiculous, stated that “the cultural heritage of Mexicans is not a luxury item to decorate a home. We reiterate a call to stop the sale and get it back and bring them closer to current living cultures. ” The call was seconded by Beatriz Gutiérrez. They are wrong in their assessment. Those auctioned pieces are usually obtained by museums or collectors and philanthropists, most of whom do not intend to decorate their living room. On the contrary, these private collections are constantly borrowed for public display. This is the satisfaction for the collector and the museums: to be able to present the works for universal enjoyment.

Mexico does not have the economic capacity to assemble the collection of hundreds of thousands of pre-Hispanic objects. Years ago, an INAH official told me that the number of pieces stored and uncatalogued is enormous.

What the Ministry of Culture should avoid with the INAH is the looting and theft of current pieces that are going to give to a black market. Also preserve the existing cultural heritage. However, many museums have deteriorated and reached deplorable conditions. This is not only due to a lack of budget, but also due to a lack of capacity given the mediocre profile of the Secretary of Culture. Traditionally, this function was led by characters with a respected cultural background such as Víctor Flores Olea, Rafael Tovar y de Teresa, Sergio Vela and Consuelo Sáizar. Secretary Frausto, on the other hand, held only various positions of cultural dissemination in institutions of medium importance. Ah, but he’s a member of Morena, that’s what counts.

Since October 2020, an Otomi community has taken over the headquarters of the Indigenous Art Collection of the National Institute of Indigenous Peoples (INPI). That valuable collection of more than 20,000 pieces is deteriorating because it has not been maintained. The leader of those who maintain this blockade has stated that many of the collection had previously been looted by the authorities, and now they want to hold them responsible for the disappearance of pieces. It has been almost 17 months since Frausto negligently refused to enter into conversation and attend to his petition to resolve the attention to his claims which included the expropriation of four properties which they had occupied for more than two decades.

It would be much more profitable for Secretary Frausto to devote herself to resolving this conflict than to worry about the recovery of the “Perrito de Colima”, one of the pieces auctioned in Paris for 5,000 euros.

Twitter: @frubli

Federico Rubli Kaiser


IMEF Magazine

Economist graduated from ITAM. He has a Master’s degree and doctoral studies in monetary theory and policy, and international finance and trade. Columnist for The Economist. He has been an Adviser to the Board of Directors of Banxico, Director of Institutional Liaison, Director of External Relations and Coordinator of the Governor’s Office, External Relations Manager, Macroeconomic Analysis Manager, Deputy Director of Macroeconomic Analysis, Deputy International Economics Manager and Analyst.

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