Orange Walk – U.S. Ambassador Michelle Kwan joined Minister of Education, Culture, Science, and Technology Hon. Francis Fonseca for the opening ceremony of the Lamanai Conservation and Preservation Project held today at the Lamanai Archaeological Reserve. The project will enable the conservation and preservation of the High Temple, Mask Temple, ball court plaza, and other ancient structures at Lamanai, one of Belize’s most frequently visited Mayan archaeological sites. This project was made possible by an Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) grant worth USD $177,188 to the Institute of Archaeology at National Institute of Culture and History (NICH), part of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Science, and Technology.
Ambassador Kwan emphasized, “We are proud to award an Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation grant to NICH to restore the Lamanai Archaeological Reserve in Belize. This project is the largest and most ambitious joint project that the United States has ever taken on with the Government of Belize to preserve Belize’s ancient and irreplaceable cultural heritage.”
NICH has been the recipient of six previous AFCP grants, the first of which was awarded in 2003 and the last of which was awarded in 2012. The current grant to restore Lamanai is the largest AFCP grant ever funded by the United States in Belize, nearly three times more than the previous largest AFCP grant to NICH awarded in 2009, worth USD $60,900. The AFCP grant is coordinated by U.S. Embassy Belmopan’s Public Affairs Office.
Belize’s eligibility for AFCP grants is made possible through the Cultural Property Agreement between Belize and the United States to combat the illicit trafficking of cultural materials, which was signed by both countries in 2013 with subsequent five-year renewals in 2018 and most recently on February 23, 2023.
The AFCP was established by U.S. Congress in the fall of 2000. It awards grants for the preservation of cultural sites, cultural objects and collections, and forms of traditional expression, such as music and language. As of September 2021, the fund has provided support for more than 1,100 projects to preserve cultural heritage in more than 130 countries.