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20 December 2008
Relocated Dakar Rally could damage ancient sites

A top archaeologist fears that the upcoming Dakar Rally - relocated to Argentina and Chile because of security fears - could damage important archeological sites. "It will be an avalanche of metal, smoke and roar of motors," said Norma Ratto, head of the Argentine Association of Archeologists.
     The rally, which this year will feature more than 500 vehicles, was transferred from Africa because of terrorism concerns and will be held in South America from Jan. 3-18. Ratto said the rally will speed through burial sites and other sacred areas in Patagonia, and in the northern province of Catamarca past Palo Blanco, an archeological site that contains remains from 2,000-year-old villages.
     However, Leonardo Alvarez, an official with the Argentine Tourism Secretariat, said "the last thing we would do is pass through protected or archeological areas. The company that's organizing the rally, Amaury Sports Organization, presented an environmental study that included archeological risk and was approved by all the state governments," said Alvarez, head of the Dakar Secretariat, created to help co-ordinate the rally. But Ratto was skeptical. "I don't believe what they say," she said. "If they have reports, they should make them public."

Source: The Canadian Press (19 December 2008)

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