What is the National Council for the Protection of La Antigua Guatemala?

The “Consejo” was established by the Guatemalan Congress in 1969 to enforce the Protective Law of La Antigua Guatemala (Decreto 60-69). Written by distinguished Guatemalans who were concerned about the future of this city, the law is intended to protect, restore and preserve all private and public cultural heritage established in the protected area. Without a doubt, it has saved Antigua from destruction.
I worked with the Consejo from 1978 to 1986 during which time we prevented Antigua’s monuments from falling down by stabilizing and restoring many of them. We implemented housing permits and worked on the restoration of colonial art that was literally crumbling apart. We also developed educational and cultural programs to enhance an awareness of the need to preserve this very special colonial capital.

With a board of directors that includes the mayor (as the president of the Consejo) and four representatives appointed by academic institutions in Guatemala City, the Consejo has a conservador in charge of day-to-day activities. While the board appoints the conservador, this task was recently given to a group of qualified local foundations and residents. This permitted local participation in appointing this very important position. After reviewing 21 candidates, the group recommended architect Eduardo Andrade, whom the board immediately and unanimously appointed as the new conservador. This is a great change! We welcome Eduardo as conservador.

What is the “Orden Diego de Porres?”

Created by the Consejo in 1974, this award is the highest honor in La Antigua Guatemala. It is given to those whose extraordinary merits and activities have benefitted the protection, preservation and research of Antigua. It is named after the main architect of the city of Santiago de Guatemala (as Antigua was originally named), Diego de Porres (1677-1741). Diego was born in Antigua and built many of the main monuments in town, including the Fountain of the Sirens, the Palace of the City Hall, Capuchinas and Santa Clara. The award has three categories: gold, silver and bronze fashioned in the form of a beautiful shell (after the St. James symbol); along with a diploma.
I am so pleased and honored to be receiving the gold “Orden Diego de Porres” this month in a ceremony celebrating the Consejo’s 42nd anniversary. I am so excited! The Consejo will honor me for my “untiring work over many years in allowing people to know La Antigua Guatemala through her multiple books and lectures and constant activities in the preservation of the city and its cultural heritage.”

After moving here in 1969, I have lived through all the changes since the Protective Law was passed. During the same ceremony, the first conservador of the city, architect Roberto Ogarrio, will also receive the award posthumously. This makes the honor even more meaningful to me as I started working with the Consejo and Roberto years ago. Since 1977, 16 gold awards have been given to distinguished people, institutions and governments. I am certainly honored by this award.
I appreciate the assistance I have received from many friends and residents in contributing to making La Antigua Guatemala the beautiful city that we see today, and I am committed to continuing my work.

Author Elizabeth Bell

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One comment

  • Former PC Volunteer

    What happened to the huge holes in Guatemala City?
    How many former Peace Corps Volunteers are still residing in Guatemala?

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