The Mexican Prosecutor’s Office detains the alleged person responsible for the illegal constructions in Teotihuacan

There is already a person responsible for the construction that threatens the remains of Teotihuacan, a jewel of Mexican archeology. The Office of the Attorney General of the Republic (FGR) has arrested René Monterrubio, former municipal president of San Juan Teotihuacan and chief of the police of Mexico City in the 1990s, for “probable responsibility for damage to archaeological sites,” a A crime that violates the Federal Law on Monuments and Archaeological, Artistic and Historical Zones, the Prosecutor’s Office announced this Wednesday.

A few meters from the pyramids of Teotihuacan, dozens of bricklayers have been working since February on a construction site with heavy machinery. A huge fence continues to hide the seven-hectare site, part of the archaeological zone, which was finally secured at the end of May with the help of 250 elements of the National Guard, 60 of the Ministerial Police and specialized experts, after months of complaints. of neighbors, archaeologists and specialists. The ‘city of the gods’ even ran the risk of losing the declaration of World Heritage, the prestigious Unesco list, if the authorities did not take action on the matter.

René Monterrubio, former municipal president of San Juan Teotihuacan, in an image on his social networks.
René Monterrubio, former municipal president of San Juan Teotihuacan, in an image on his social networks.

Finally, this Monday, October 11, the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office for Competition Control completed the arrest warrant against René “M”, after a “telephone complaint” that revealed the existence of the property, located in Teotihuacán, State of Mexico, in the area expanded archaeological monuments, where people carried out “excavation and removal of soil, subsoil and grotto-cave, with heavy machinery,” says the FGR in a statement. Personnel from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) went to the property, where they were attended by René Monterrubio, who “verbally stated that he was responsible for the property without accrediting it by means of any document, and without having the authorizations of the works that were being carried out. ”. The director of the Institute of Anthropology and History, Diego Prieto, affirmed at the time that the effects on the archaeological zone of Teotihuacan exceed the value of the properties where works were carried out and the land could be “subject to expropriation”.

Protected since 1988 by presidential decree, the Archaeological Zone of Teotihuacan (ZAT) is one of the largest in Mexico, an aspect that complicates its protection. That explains why a group of workers built a fence around the property and introduced heavy machinery without too much trouble. The authorities and archaeologists were concerned about the possible construction of a recreational center. Not surprisingly, one of the campaign promises that René Monterrubio made in his day was to place a large Ferris wheel in the area. INAH had already received a request for its construction when the politician was mayor, but permission was denied for going against Unesco guidelines by declaring the area a world heritage site.

The district judge Specialized in the Accusatory Penal System, of the Federal Criminal Justice Center, issued an arrest warrant against René Monterrubio, which was completed by the agents of the Federal Ministerial Police, in Teotihuacán, remaining at the disposal of the Justice Center Federal Criminal, in Nezahualcóyotl, State of Mexico. At the imputation hearing, the judge ordered René Monterrubio to make a periodic presentation to the Precautionary Measures Unit; He is prohibited from leaving the country and is obliged to submit a report stating the address where he will reside and a financial guarantee.

Teotihuacan, at risk of losing World Heritage declaration

Teotihuacan, the most visited architectural complex in Mexico, runs the risk of being removed from the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage list. The numerous illegal constructions in the area, urban pressure and irregular tourist offer are damaging the heritage and endangering the character and identity of the site, warn archaeologists, experts and UNESCO itself, which has asked the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) information on the state of the archaeological zone, a world heritage site since 1987.

It is a first call to attention from the United Nations specialized agency to the Mexican Government, after the news that, a few meters from the iconic Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon, there was a huge illegal construction of seven hectares that has damaged Not only the vestiges that are found on the ground of the Mexican archaeological jewel, but also the landscape that the Teotihuacanos exceptionally imitated in its pyramidal bases, one of the criteria for which this archaeological zone was named a World Heritage Site.

The work has been secured and the person responsible has been arrested, but that illegal construction, located in the Oztoyahualco area, is not the only one. 40% of the Teotihuacan Valley has buildings, archaeologists and experts consulted by EL PAÍS. The INAH has filed a dozen complaints for irregular works, not all of the size of plots 23 and 19, where the construction of a recreational center was presumed, others are houses or drainage that the residents of the place have placed with hardly any permits. This chaos, which is explained by corruption, the abandonment of the authorities, the budget cut to cultural institutions and the lack of a plan for the economic and social development of the area, is not the only one that the place has suffered, in 2004 Walmart built a store that operates to this day, despite the corruption scandals surrounding the case.

With the coronavirus pandemic, the processes of social deterioration and urban pressure in the Teotihuacan Valley accelerated, says the director of the historic complex to this newspaper, Rogelio Rivero: “What we had thought would happen in five years, happened in six months, with the closure of the archaeological zone and the brake on economic activity ”. The most visited archaeological zone in Mexico is Teotihuacán. According to Datatur statistics, the pre-Hispanic city of Teotihuacán received 3,145,384 visitors in 2019, of which 2,534,224 were national tourists and 611,160 foreigners. But in 2020, due to the pandemic, the percentage of visits fell by more than 80%, as it was visited by 574,484 people, and so far in 2021 only 93,372 have been visited, of which 66,869 were national tourists and 26,503 foreigners. The country’s first World Heritage site has suffered an economic meltdown for months. “As is the society around Teotihuacan, as we are today, Teotihuacan would not have viability in the next 10 or 20 years. If we do not understand what to do to compose the disorder that exists, we have no future ”, warns the archaeologist.

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