07 November 2007

Sack of Lima Library

The War of the Pacific is a little-known conflict in the English-speaking world. However, it made the headlines today when Chile returned 3,778 books to Peru, books that had been seized during the Chilean occupation of the capital Lima during the war. The books include the works of Homer, Bibles, and the 16th-century poet Garcilaso de la Vega.

The comments to this 2006 blog entry reveals a list of some of the absent volumes. In February of this year, a former director of the Peruvian National Library proposed the creation of a commission to draw up a list of the books pending their return. In March, 50 Latin American intellectuals sent an open letter to the Chilean government requesting the return of these books. The Chilean government agreed to do so shortly afterwards. If you can read Spanish, here's a decidedly Peruvian view, suggesting that the 3,778 books represent only a small part of a cultural heritage that has passed into institutional and private hands in Chile, and more should be returned. These two countries still don't get on, really.

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