Argentina will return thousands of stolen archaeological pieces to South American neighbors, President Cristina Kirchner said Saturday.
"We are doing something unusual, really special: restoring cultural wealth to other countries, in this case Ecuador and Peru. We are returning to them more than 4,000 pieces that had been stolen and have been recovered," she said at the National Museum of Fine Art in the capital.
Kirchner's office did not describe the pieces in question or from whom and when they were seized.
But "the world we live in is one in which great powers fight to control the cultural riches of other people. One can see in the great museums of the world pieces from Greece, Syria, Egypt, Asia and even Latin America, and which have not been returned," she added.
So "just as they should with medicinal patents (using indigenous plants), countries that hold onto cultural riches and refuse to give them back, at least should pay some kind of royalty to the countries they are from," Kirchner argued, "since they were made by cultures other than their own."
Barred from running again by term limits, Kirchner, 62, is not standing for any post in Argentina's October 25 elections.