Magazine article New Internationalist

Ethical Archaeology

Magazine article New Internationalist

Ethical Archaeology

Article excerpt

About 10 kilometres from Ecuador's southern coast, down a deserted road spotted with towering cacti, lies Agua Blanca, a town of 300 people - and 3,000 goats, whose lively bleating (and occasional appearance) punctures the tranquillity.

But this hot, sleepy town is more than it appears at first. It has been transformed by a popular initiative that has seen its inhabitants take control of the tourism industry upon which they depend - and prosper, self-sufficiently, as a result.

'So much has changed in the last 30 years,' says Klever Ventor, one of the community's seven directors, who are elected every two years. The town collectively decided to monetize its heritage: the 20,000 tourists who visit Agua Blanca each year pay $5 to enter what was once the capital of a powerful indigenous federation. The proceeds are split among the townsfolk. …

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