The Easter Island president wants car restrictions to be reintroduced around archaeological sites after a Chilean driver destroyed a national monument.
According to The Guardian, the damage caused by the driver, who was arrested and accused of damaging a national monument, is “incalculable”.
In addition to destroying “moai” figures, considered sacred by the island’s inhabitants, the driver also destroyed the platform where they were located.
Around a thousand figures are distributed throughout the island, known as “moai” and which the locals call Rapa Nui, since they believe that they carry the spirits of their predecessors.
The president of the Ma’u Henua community, responsible for the “moai”, says the accident was deliberate.
“As people know, sacred structures have religious value for the people of Rapa Nui. Something like this is not only terrible, it is an offense to a living culture that has spent the last few years struggling to regain its historical and archaeological heritage. “.
However, Pedro Edmunds Paoa, the island’s president, told the local newspaper El Mercurio that the accident appears to have been accidental and the result of a brake failure, but that it shows that stricter traffic rules are needed.
“Everyone decided not to set traffic rules when it came to vehicles in sacred places – but we, as a council, were talking about the dangers and knew very well what the increase in the number of tourists and residents could mean,” said Paoa, adding that this is “the result” of the council not being heard.
According to the president, the island’s population has increased from 8,000 to 12,000 since 2012 and receives 12,000 tourists a month.