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Peru rejects Greenpeace apology for damaging 1,500-year-old site in ‘childish’ protest stunt

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Members of the environmental activist group Greenpeace face criminal and civil charges in Peru for leaving their own footprints on one of the country’s historical monuments while calling for lower carbon footprints, PBS NewsHour reported.

The group has faced criticism since releasing footage of 12 members walking onto the site of the 1,500-year-old Nazca lines geoglyphs last week. They were shown laying down cloth letters that, from a height, spelled out, “Time for change, the future is renewable.”

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The display was a message to officials at a conference in Lima, about 260 miles away, concerning carbon emissions limits. Nearly 200 countries were represented at the conference.

The site is off-limit to visitors, and researchers entering the area are required to wear specially-designed shoes that will minimize the potential damage to the geoglyphs, which are believed to have been created between 500 B.C. and 500 A.D, and are believed to have a religious significance. Officials say overhead footage shows footprints and overturned rocks as a result of Greenpeace’s encroachment.

The group members who took part in the protest are believed to have left the country. The New York Times reported that a judge refused prosecutors’ request to detain them.

Greenpeace released an apology late last week, while its international executive director Kumi Naidoo, has flown into Peru to speak with officials.

“I apologize personally to the people of Peru, and all those around the world who were offended by our actions,” Naidoo told NewsHour. “This is not who we are.”

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But the country’s deputy minister of culture, Luis Jaime Castillo, dismissed Greenpeace’s apology, calling the protest “irresponsible [and] childish.”

“I care for basically one point: these things [that] were damaged, they had basically have to be returned to their original status,” Castillo said. “Some people will have to face criminal charges because that is unavoidable, and the process has already started.”

Watch NewsHour’s report, as aired on Monday, below.

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