UNESCO DECLARES VALPARAISO "WORLD HERITAGE SITE"
2 July 2003
Foundation President Todd Temkin shares his unique vision of Valparaiso's future with Adriana del Castro, the UNESCO's official evaluator, during Ms. Castro's historic visit to Valparaiso in December, 2002.
As of now, the Pleasant Hill National Historic District and 7 other Valparaiso neighborhoods now boast the same international protection as city's such as Prague, Istambul, Venice, Cuzco, and St. Petersburg
5 years of painstaking preparations culminated euphorically last night as the 21-member UNESCO World Heritage Committee voted unaminously to add Valparaiso to its prestigious world heritage protection program.
The vote, tallied at 6:15 p.m. at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, was received simultaneously in Valparaiso by thousands of beeping cars and a serenade of fog horns and boat whistles emanating from merchant marine and naval ships anchored in the harbor.
Chilean Secretary of State, Soledad Alvear, accepted the nomination in the name of the Chilean people, expressing that Chile owes a dept to the dedicated group of public and private servants who have worked arduously to bring this dream to reality.
She then promptly communicated the happy news to President Ricardo Lagos, who was addressing a conference of 16 Presidents at the Carribean Nations Conference in Jamaica. President Lagos will personally attend an official celebration on July 12th in the Plaza Sotomayor, which will be followed by a 15-minute fireworks display over the illuminated city.
Valparaiso Foundation President, Todd Temkin, a member of the World Heritage Consulting Committee, expressed to the Chilean press that "we need to accept this recognition with a modicum of humility and responsibility to go along with our justified euphoria."
He went on: "Clearly we have achieved one of our major goals, but I must remind you all that this is not our final goal: our final goal is the complete transformation of Valparaiso into a world class cultural heritage center, a dynamic and shimmering example of Chile's ability to progress into the future while preserving the rich cultural legacy of its past."
"We need to remember that the restoration of the world's historic urban areas usually encompasses a 10-15 year process, and we are just recently in year five of that process in the case of Valparaiso."
"The UNESCO declaration is an important stepping stone towards achieving that greater goal, and it will certainly serve us as a communicative tool that should enable us to transform the restoration of Valparaiso into Chile's number one cultural priority."