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Wal-Mart Store OK'd.

Retail giant Wal-Mart Stores Inc. won a rare victory after State of Mexico officials and an international preservation group said no damage would be caused by building a discount store less than a mile from the ancient pyramids of Teotihuacan.

The announcement struck a blow to opponents who had vowed to block the store, claiming it would intrude upon and damage the archaeological site, the Associated Press reported.

"The project in question does not damage the conservation of archaeological remains, nor the integrity, environmental or cultural values of the archaeological zone," according to the report by the Mexico chapter of Icomos, the Paris-based International Council On Monuments and Sites.

The report did recommend several measures--including the use of non-reflective roofing materials, perimeter walls and trees to further hide Wal-Mart's massive "Bodega Aurrera" store.

Icomos--an oversight body which helps monitor U.N. World Heritage Sites like Teotihuacan--denied claims the store would ruin the view from the top of the pyramids, which are nearly a mile away.

Mexican authorities "have set a series of conditions so that the store will not affect the view from the archaeological site," the report said.

Icomos also criticized local officials in San Juan Teotihuacan, the town built starting in the 17th century next to the ruins, for rushing to grant initial building permits without first consulting archaeologists. But it described the scant remains found on site--a small stone platform--as relatively unimportant, "modest ... and extremely decayed," and recommended they be reburied to prevent further deterioration.

Wal-Mart, Mexico's largest retailer, was pleased at the news, which came after weeks of sometimes threatening protests at the site.

Officials of the State of Mexico, where the ruins are located, had initially hinted they might seek an alternative site for the store.


But they admitted there was no way to stop it, because the company had all necessary permits--even though the firm initially started construction without a government-mandated archaeologist.

The 2,000-year-old ruins in a valley north of Mexico City were built by a little-known culture whose very name is unknown. Teotihuacan was abandoned hundreds of years before the Spaniards arrived.
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Title Annotation:BRIEFS
Publication:Business Mexico
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2004
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