Cases of looting under investigation in 21 Puebla museums

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The state government reported damage to the Attorney General of the Republic for more than 300 million pesos.

Looting in the 21 museums of the entity, initially calculated at more than 300 million pesos, the state government denounced before the Attorney General’s Office (FGR) and the State Secretariat of Public Function (SFP), where, in addition to the robbery and dismantling of some of the 128 thousand objects that make up the total collection, he pointed out low-quality maintenance works in the buildings, excessive payments for pieces of art, overpriced contracts and others.

The State Secretary of Culture, Sergio Vergara Berdejo, pointed out the case of the Palafoxiana Library, where some books were mutilated, “drawings that they had on their pages, works, maps… they took them all away”; even a part of the nine incunabula was affected, centuries-old books that were published right after the creation of the printing press in 1440.

The oldest work on this building, founded in 1646 by Bishop Juan de Palafox y Mendoza, is the Historia, by Herodotus, printed in 1473, and later The City of God, by San Agustín, from 1475. The official did not specify the titles affected.

In a virtual press conference, the state official warned that there are pieces and even collections “not located”, such as a pre-Hispanic cylinder seal, from the José Luis Bello y González Museum, which was on loan at the Regional Museum of Cholula and that it was replaced by a copy.

Likewise, he emphasized that pocket watches were disassembled to remove jewels from the gold and silver cases or hands; an earring with the inquisitorial shield from the collection of the José Luis Bello y González Museum from which the mount was removed and some other substitutions of original pieces.

Museo de la No Intervención Loreto, Pue.

On the Erasto Cortés Workshop Museum, a copy of the original self-portrait was discovered that does not correspond to the inventoried measurements, as well as engravings that in the catalog present a characteristic in their nomenclature and in the physical piece contain others.

Vergara Berdejo noted the import of temporary exhibitions with high costs, which led to paying unnecessary services.

Regarding the International Museum of the Baroque (MIB), it pointed out the acquisition in 60 million pesos of a dining room in a nonexistent antique house and with money from a trust created expressly for the operation of the property, when the appraisal reported a cost lower than the 4 million pesos.

Regarding the use of a trademark for the Vienna House of Music, he pointed out the payment of almost 3 million pesos a year just for a technical guarantee and use of the name.

In the construction of the Automobile Museum and the Museum of the Evolution of Tehuacán, he highlighted that deterioration in its infrastructure was detected right from the moment the works were delivered so that the guarantees of hidden defects should be applied to repair them and was never done, which implies an administrative responsibility.

With the collaboration of an external auditor, he commented that a list of 50 contracts was found that did not present relevant information, according to the National Authority of Public Services and that it would represent property damage estimated at 16.7 million pesos.

Therefore, Governor Luis Miguel Barbosa Huerta specified that his administration will carry out the corresponding audits to find out which pieces have disappeared “and also to determine responsibilities, as this fact cannot remain without sanctions.”

The governor indicated that it is necessary to invest in the rescue of the 21 museums protected by the State, as well as apply a legal forensic audit to determine which pieces were looted.

Source: Excelsior

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