So what happens when South America activists backed by Venezuela dictator Hugo Chavez get into a fight with organizers of a “peace project” in Berlin, Germany? Cynical me wants to sit back and watch the fight unfold.
A German artist named Wolfgang Kraker von Schwarzenfeld brought a red sandstone boulder back to Berlin a decade ago to be part of his “Global Stone: A Worldwild Peace Project.” The artist has placed several stones in Berlin’s Tiergarten, the large central park in the city, that are supposed to reflect the “five steps toward peace.” Africa represents hope, Asia forgiveness, Europe awakening, and Australia peace. The Americas are supposed to represent love.
Sounds like the perfect project for lefty Berliners! But someone forgot to tell the Venezuelan strongman. Hugo Chavez says the rock was stolen from the Pemon, an indigenous group in Venezuela who see it as sacred. “Schwarzenfeld kidnapped it,” claims Hector Torres, a Venezuelan official. According to Venezuela, the Pemon people see the rock as a “grandfather” and worship it. To make matters worse, this grandfather rock was stolen, leaving a “grandmother” rock all alone back in Venezuela.
Chavez has told the German Ambassador to Venezuela, Georg Dick, “Give Kueka back!” Kueka is the name the indigenous people have apparently given to the rock. It means “petrification.”
But Germany is standing tough–for now. “The stone is part of a unified artwork,” says Ambassador Dick. “We have to consult with everyone involved.”
The artist, Mr. Schwarzenfeld, says he will give the rock back. But Venezuela has to pay him cold hard cash. “I’ve made this project my life’s work,” he said.