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(en) Venezuela, El Libertario # 38 - THE HIJACKING OF A SACRED STONE

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Fri, 2 Jul 2004 10:02:15 +0200 (CEST)


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In Venezuela's southwest, the Canaima National Reserve in Bolivar State, is home
to the Pemon people; around twenty-one thousand people, distributed along three
different Caribe linguistic groups: Arekuna, Taure Pam and Kumaracoto. As with
most indigenous peoples, they have been subjected to a colonization process
that, regrettably, threatens to destroy their culture and society.
Since the 90s, the Pemon had to confront the hardest struggles they can
remember in recent history: the construction of a power grid that crosses their
territory, bringing profit to mining corporations; the imminent construction of a
hotel complex on their lands by the Turisur corporation; and the soon to be aproved
decree that would allow mining and logging the Imataca mountain range, an
unique natural reserve, and home to this people. On top of all that, a new conflict
arose that threatens their worldview and cultural identity: the removal of
their sacred stone Kueka ("Grandmother") by German "artist" Wolfang von
Schwarzenfeld.

Kueka, sacred stone According to legend, Kueka was a young Pemon, of the Taure
Pam community, who went looking for the fairest girl of the Macuxi community,
breaking the rules dictated by Makunaima, jealous god and strict Pemon, who said
that the Pemon only could marry other Pemon, and the Macuxi only could marry
other Macuxi.
After their marriage, they fled, but Makunaima went after them, found them and
told them: "Awarokuruu ...Amoro aukowamumo Chokroro tatapiche anapo daro..."
(I curse thee, that you shall spend eternity embracing your wife). Makunaima
blew this prayer into the wind, and Kueka and his wife turned into stone. Today,
that stone is the grandfather and grandmother of the Pemon people, who denounced
its hijacking since 1998.

Extraction, violations, and consequences
In 1998, the "artistic creator" von Schwarzenfeld flies to
Venezuela to select two stones as part of a sculpture devoted to Peace, called
Global Stone <www.globestone.net>. The then president of INPARQUES
(government agency responsible for national parks), Hector Hernandez Mujica, and
the Business representative of the German embassy, Hans Peter Pliscka,
signed an agreement to donate a jasper stone to the german people. Such stone was the
one named Kueka.

This donation went against several regulations that protected the Canaima
National Reserve, considered to belong to all humanity due to the presence of
Tepuis (unique geological wonders) and the Churum Meru (the highest waterfall
in the world). The Decree number 1640, made at July 5, 1991: the Regulations
Plan for the use of the Eastern sector of the Canaima National Reserve, forbids
to extract any resource that could harm the ecosystems or insult the culture
and beliefs of the aboriginal population (articles 3, 4, 9 and 15).
Also, Hernandez ignored the Pemon people's own rules, making the donation all by
himself, and allowing its extraction and transportation without asking the
natives. What's more, von Schwarzenfeld (though knowing the grievances of the
Pemon people, and having seen the petition for him not to take the stone to
Germany) ignored their demands, taking mischievously the stone away from the
place where the natives kept it so that it wouldn't be taken away from their
territory, much less away from the country. This person claims that the rock
is made of sandstone, so it's not sacred, but for the Pemon people, Kueka is
trapped inside this 30-ton, 12-cubic meters stone.

According to the Pemon cosmogony, this means a great disaster, as expressed in
the statement of the Pemon, Melchor Flores: "Because of this, we in the Gran
Sabana are suffering much; the weather has gotten out of hand, so many people
are getting sick, because, as our old folks say, Kueka is a mother for all of
us. We know that she is our mother, so we are in a critical situation there in
the Gran Sabana: diseases, climate change, weather change, we never know when
is gonna rain, when is gonna be sunny, because it's gotten out of
control".

The the Pemon people are still demanding the return of their grandmother to its
original place, since this is the only way to heal the cultural agression they
have suffered. The German government and von Schwarzenfeld must not continue
disrespecting them, they must be made accountable. It's hypocritical to rob and
look down upon indigenous peoples in the name of Global Peace, with the
Venezuelan State looking the other way. We call on to everyone
to accompany them in their struggle, so that Kueka returns with
their grandchildren.

[Translation: Rubén]


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