With a historic spiritual ceremony, this Tuesday, April 21, the Pemón people formally welcomed the Kueka Stone to the community of Santa Cruz de Mapaurí, in the Bolívar state, after more than 21 years of tireless struggle for its return.
The act included the participation of the People’s Power Minister for Culture, Ernesto Villegas; the People’s Power Minister for Indigenous Peoples, Aloha Núñez; the People’s Power Minister for Ecosocialism, Osvaldo Barbera; the Vice-minister of Citizen Security of the Peole’s Power Ministry for Internal Relations, Justice and Peace, Endes Palencia; the Vice-minister of Tourism, Alí Padrón, and the Governor of the entity, Justo Noguera.
The holder of the portfolio of Culture affirmed that the return of the Kueka Stone marks a historical milestone in the fight against the illicit traffic of cultural goods in the world and gives a significant demonstration of the perseverance and strong force of our native peoples.
He stressed that our native communities made reality what at some point in history seemed impossible, since previously indigenous peoples were despised, stripped of their sacred values and considered as something folkloric and despicable.
He recalled that it was thanks to the arrival of the Bolivarian Revolution that indigenous communities were vindicated and the Venezuelan State, with Commander Hugo Chávez at the helm, assumed the cause of the Pemón people as its own.
Venezuela National Monument
The minister reported that as part of the celebration of the return of grandmother Kueka, the President of the Republic, Nicolás Maduro, signed the decree that declares the Quebrada de Jaspe – sacred site where this stone is located – as a National Monument of Venezuela, for its ancient and millennial important significance.
Likewise, he presented the Francisco de Miranda Order and the Aquiles Nazoa Award to the men and women of the Santa Cruz de Mapaurí community who, through their unwavering struggle, contributed thePemón people’s voice to be heard in the world.
“You taught us the conviction that love is stronger than any pandemic, than any blockade, than imperialism, because you summarize the victorious warrior spirit of our native peoples”, he added.
For her part, Minister Aloha Núñez highlighted that the repatriation of this rock is a benchmark of the battle waged by many brothers in the world, so that the patrimonial assets that were stolen from them since the times of colonization are returned.
“After 21 years and 8 months we have our grandmother back. The Pemón people never lost hope, they were always there fighting, battling, with the support of the Venezuelan people”, she emphasized.
The Kueka Stone is an ancient rock considered by the Pemons as guarantor of the balance and harmony of nature.
Declared Natural Heritage of Humanity by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) in 1994, it was illegally stolen by the German artist and merchant Wolfgang Kraker von Schwarzenfeld in 1998, under the Government of Rafael Caldera, who took her to Germany to join the Global Stone exhibition in the Tiergarten park gardens, in Berlin.
Since then, the Pemón people began a tireless fight for the recovery of their grandmother, a demand that was met after the arrival of the Bolivarian Government, which began various legal procedures to demand the repatriation of the stone.
In 2000, the Cultural Heritage Institute, an entity attached to the People’s Power Ministry for Culture, managed through the Ministry for Foreign Relations, the procedures for her return and by 2010 the National Government, through the Foreign Ministry, formally requested Germany to return the stone to Venezuela.
After a series of talks, both countries reached a friendly agreement and in May 2018 the repatriation of the rock formally began with a healing ritual by a delegation of 12 shamans from the Pemón people who traveled to the German capital.
Finally, on January 20, the stone was removed from the Tiergarten Metropolitan Park in Berlin. From there it began its transfer to the South American nation, where it arrived last Thursday, April 16.