Venezuela Demands Return Of “Sacred” Rock From Germany

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A German artist transported the 35-tonne stone to Berlin as part of a sculpture project, and dismisses claims that it is holy.

The Guardian reports that “the Venezuelan government is demanding the return from Germany of a red sandstone rock that is the central attraction of a Berlin sculpture park, claiming it has sacred properties and was stolen from a group of indigenous people.

The 35-tonne boulder was procured from the Canaima National Park in south-eastern Venezuela by the German artist Wolfgang von Schwarzenfeld in 1997, who said it was officially gifted to him by the head of the park – claims that he backed up with extensive paperwork – and that the local Pemón Indians did not object to its removal.

But a small group of the Pemón is alleging that the rock is their “grandmother” – a petrified ancestor of the tribe – and that its removal, and separation from a “grandfather” has led to natural disasters throughout Venezuela, including a mudslide in 1999 that killed 20,000, harvest failures, and the disappearance of fish in the region’s rivers. They are calling for its immediate repatriation.

“Our grandfather has spoken to our elders in dreams and asks that his wife be returned, he can’t live without her,” Melchor Flores, an activist who sits on the national commission for Indian land rights, said.

“We have ancestral times – the time of rain and the time of sun – that you call months,” he added. “During our time of rain, things now are dry. It’s not raining, and it was during this time that we’d go out to plant. The time of sun is when we harvest the ants we eat. The ants come out when they feel the sun, but we haven’t seen ants in several years now. The times are mixed up, and we need [the stone] back so we can restore the equilibrium”.

Read on at The Guardian