Venezuela to Germany: Give Us Back Our 35-Ton Rock

Pemon Indians want huge stone returned
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 20, 2012 8:05 AM CDT
Venezuela to Germany: Give Us Back Our 35-Ton Rock
A man photographs a stone of the 'Global Stone Project' of artist Wolfgang von Schwarzenfeld on August 3, 2010 in Berlin.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Venezuela and Germany are fighting … over a 35-ton rock. Venezuela is asking for the huge red stone to be returned on behalf of the indigenous Pemon Indians, on whose native land it once rested. German artist Wolfgang von Schwarzenfeld procured it in 1997 and took it to Germany, where it currently resides in a Berlin sculpture park. He says he can prove he had permission to take the rock, but the Pemon say it was taken illegally—and claim its loss caused an alarming series of natural disasters, the Telegraph reports.

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According to local legend, the rock is "Grandmother Kueka," who was turned to stone along with her lover after an affair. If the two are ever separated, bad things will supposedly happen—and in the years since the grandmother stone was removed, the area has seen drought, pestilence, and a devastating mudslide. The Venezuelan Institute of Cultural Heritage convinced the country's foreign ministry to formally petition the German government for the rock's return, but at least one Pemon expert says "hardly any" of the native people actually knew the legend, and many actually found it "quite embarrassing." (Read more Venezuela stories.)

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