Greenpeace’s Peruvian Stunt Backfires, Sparks Legal Action

A video still showing the Greenpeace message as it was placed next to the Nazca lines.
A video still showing the Greenpeace message as it was placed next to the Nazca lines.

The environmental activism group Greenpeace has come under fire for allegedly damaging Peru’s ancient Nazca lines, huge figures carved into the desert sands some 1,500 t0 2,000 years ago. As reported by the Associated Press, the Peruvian government is hoping to press criminal charges against a group of seven Greenpeace members who trespassed on the lines during a publicity stunt timed to coincide with recent UN climate change talks held in Lima.

Under cover of darkness, the group, outfitted in matching yellow t-shirts reading “Time for Change! The Future is Renewable,” placed that same message, written in giant yellow cloth letters, near a Nazca figure of a humming bird.

The area Greenpeace chose for their stunt is part of a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization World Heritage Site, and entry is strictly prohibited without prior authorization and special shoes. A new series of the ancient land art drawings, the purpose of which remains unknown, was recently discovered by a pilot flying over southwestern Peru (see “Pilot Spots Ancient Peruvian Geoglyphs“).

Luis Jaime Castillo, Peru’s deputy culture min ister, called the Greenpeace group’s actions “a true slap in the face at everything Peruvians consider sacred” in a statement. He announced that the government hopes to prevent the activists from leaving the country until charges of attacking an archaeological monument can be filed.

“You walk there and the footprint is going to last hundreds or thousands of years,” Castillo claimed. “Peru has nothing against the message of Greenpeace. We are all concerned about climate change, but the means doesn’t justify the ends.”

“We chose the Nazca lines because we think these lines are a symbol for climate change” said Greenpeace climate campaigner Wolfgang Sadik in a video filmed during the action. “What happened here in the past on a smaller scale happens now on a global scale. The Nazca culture disappeared because of climate change.”

Ironically, in their eagerness to raise awareness of the damage humans inflict on the planet, Greenpeace may have caused irreparable harm to an important archaeological site. Hot Air called the demonstration “a football-field-sized desecration of the environment made of yellow laundry bags asking [the UN] to save the environment.”

According to Greenpeace spokesperson Tina Loeffelbein, the activists were “absolutely careful to protect the Nazca lines.” If convicted, they could face up to six years behind bars.

Follow artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.


Article topics