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US woman charged with defacing Mexican sculpture

US woman charged with defacing Mexican sculpture

A U.S. woman and two Mexican men were released on bail Tuesday after being charged with allegedly damaging pre-Hispanic Olmec sculptures by dousing them with grape juice, cooking oil and other liquids that stained the massive carved stone heads.
The three were arrested Sunday and still face trial for allegedly staining a total of 23 porous stone altars and carvings located in a national park in the Gulf coast state of Tabasco.
The U.S. Embassy could not immediately confirm the woman's name or home town, but her lawyer said his client's name is Wanda Aguilar. Prosecutors in Tabasco say she is resident of Miami, Florida, but the lawyer would not confirm that.
The woman and two Mexican men, Roberto Conde Diaz and Jose Mejenes Jasso, were released on bail after posting a bond of 330,000 pesos ($23,900), the estimated cost of cleaning the famous altars and stone carvings.
The charges the three face are punishable by one to 10 years in prison. The woman's lawyer, Hipolito Jimenez Lopez, said her client plans to return to the United States.
Mystery continued to surround exactly why the trio poured the odd mixture over the four massive, glowering stone heads and 19 other structures displayed in an open-air setting in the state capital.
Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History called it "an apparent ritual" or "ceremony."
Jimenez Lopez denied his client's acts had been part of a "ritual" and said she hadn't intended any harm.
"It was a religious act, they were praying, but it wasn't a ritual as the news media say," he said.
Raul Villarino, director of the park where the artifacts are displayed along footpaths, said officials were "reinforcing security to the extent we can" around the artifacts.
The stone carvings are displayed in a setting meant to replicate the jungle region in which the Olmec culture flourished starting about 3,200 years ago.
The Olmecs are referred to as the "mother culture" of the region that later saw the rise of the Mayas and Aztecs, and the flat-faced, carved heads are often considered their most emblematic pieces of Olmec art.
The institute said it plans to use special solvents to try to remove the stains and the treatments might have to be applied repeatedly.
A total of 17 carved heads have been unearthed to date in Tabasco and Veracruz state.


Updated : 2021-06-24 02:12 GMT+08:00