Washington, DC, July 14, 2011. The Ambassador of Peru Luis M. Valdivieso, on behalf of the President of Peru, Dr. Alan Garcia Perez, will decorate National Geographic Society Chairman and CEO John Fahey and National Geographic Executive Vice President for Mission Programs Terry Garcia with the “Orden del Sol del Peru” (the Order of the Sun) in the rank of Grand Officer for helping retrieve a collection of ancient artifacts taken from the ancient citadel of Machu Picchu nearly 100 years ago. The award ceremony will take place on Friday, July 15, at the Embassy of Peru in Washington, D.C.
The “Orden del Sol del Peru” is the highest civilian award given by the Peruvian government to its citizens and foreigners who have excelled in fields such as arts, literature, culture and politics, or who have provided extraordinary services to Peru. The order was created by decree in 1821 by General Jose de San Martin, while he was Protector of Peru, to reward services rendered in favor of independence.
The National Geographic Society is one of the largest non-profit scientific and educational institutions in the world, and it has been inspiring people to care about the planet since 1888. Throughout its 123-year history it has encouraged stewardship of the planet through research, exploration and education, raised public awareness of the importance of natural places and promoted environmental and historical conservation. The commitment to conservation and preservation has been promoted with especial dedication under the leadership of Mr. Fahey, who had an instrumental role in aiding the repatriation of Machu Picchu’s archeological pieces to Peru.
Mr. Garcia has had a close relationship with Peru for many years and also played a key role in the recuperation of the Machu Picchu archaeological pieces. He was recently nominated by President Barack Obama to be Deputy Secretary of the Department of Commerce.
Following a long campaign by Peru, Yale University agreed to return some 45,000 items for the centennial of Machu Picchu’s rediscovery by U.S. archaeologist Hiram Bingham. The items began arriving in Peru in March 2011 and the repatriation is expected to be completed by December 2012. Bingham took the artifacts to Yale University between 1912 and 1916 on loan from Peru.
Machu Picchu, a UNESCO World Heritage site, stands on Peru’s eastern slopes of the Andes, some 2,430 meters (7,970 feet) above sea level, and has long been South America’s most popular tourist attraction.