The rock has been in Berlin for more than a decade, but Venezuela's indigenous Pemon people want it back. The group staged a demonstration this week in front of the German Embassy in Caracas to demand the return of the "Kueka Stone," which they claim is sacred and was stolen.
After more than 100 people demonstrated outside the German Embassy in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas on Thursday, tensions have flared up once again between the two countries over the rightful owner of a sacred rock. Many of the protestors were indigenous Pemon people, who say the stone was stolen from them and want it returned from Berlin.
The so-called "Kueka Stone" was brought to the German capital city some 15 years ago by German artist Wolfgang Kraker von Schwarzenfeld, who used the 35-ton boulder in his "Global Stone" project in the city's central Tiergarten park. The Venezuelans say that the rock, considered to be so holy that humans aren't permitted to touch it, was taken without their permission in 1997. They want it returned to their community in the Gran Sabana tropical grassland region, which is located largely within the Cainama National Park.
"It's not just a stone. It's part of our culture and they must return it," Pemon representative Melchor Flores told an Associated Press reporter during the protest.
Georg-Clemens Dick, the German ambassador to Caracas, appeared before protesters outside the embassy, expressing his respect for their demand and promising to discuss the matter with officials in Berlin. "Please accept that no one ever wanted to take something from you," he told demonstrators. "We have always considered the Kueka Stone to be a gift from Venezuela as part of a global peace network."
Although the sandstone rock in Berlin is one of five stones included in an outdoor artwork aimed at encouraging global peace, it has complicated relations between Venezuelan and German diplomats for some time now. This week the parliament in Caracas set a proposal in motion for bringing the Kueka Stone back home. Parliamentarian Gladys Requena said on Tuesday that the stone had been illegally removed from Canaima National Park in southeast Venezuela.