Italian Tourist Arrested For Painting National Park Rock

An Italian tourist has been charged with painting this graffiti of a woman on a rock in a protected national park in Chilean Patagonia – and she will not be able to leave the country until the case is resolved.

The Chilean authorities arrested the woman, named as Elissa Tessuti, 28, for painting the picture of a woman with green hair hugging the mountains on a rock in the Torres del Paine National Park, in southern Chilean Patagonia.

The chief of the Criminal Investigations Unit of the local police Jose Soto told reporters that the suspect had “recognised her participation in the crimes” after her arrest in a hostel in the town of Puerto Natales.

Tessuti had apologised for the painting on her social media profile before her arrest, writing “I officially apologise to the whole of Chile for the horrible gesture done in the park. I sincerely apologise.”

She added that she did not do the painting with “bad intentions” but with “truly stupid” intentions. She said the painting was done with “washable paint” and “is no longer there” but added “this does not justify the stupid action and that’s why it is important I apologise to everyone”.

The National Forest Corporation (CONAF) had filed a criminal complaint against the tourist for damaging the park and said the protected area “does not need your art, it needs your respect, care and protection”.

She has been charged with ‘simple damage’ and will not be allowed to return to Italy as she had reportedly planned to do on Saturday as the case continues. The Puerto Natales has placed a two-month deadline for the investigation to be closed.

Credit: CEN
The painting in the rock in the national park (archive)

The Italian national was released from custody with a ‘permanence order’ to prevent her from leaving the country as the case is ongoing. She is expected to return to the park to help repair the damage caused.

In 2014 an Israeli tourist was fined and made to repair the damage caused by a fire he had lit in December 2011 which ended up out of control and burnt more than 20,000 hectares of native forest in and around Torres del Paine.

Torres del Paine national park is very popular due to its mountains, glaciers, lakes and rivers. It is one of the largest and most visited parks in Chile, with around 181,414 hectares.

The park averages around 252,000 visitors a year, of which 54 percent are foreign tourists, according to official reports. It is also part of the End of the World route, a tourist scenic route in southern Patagonia.


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Story By: Alex CopeSub-Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Central European News


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