Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Bolivian Ekeko Returns Home

The office of the Evo Morales, the Bolivian President ahas just announced to a press conference the return to that country  by Switzerland of a  pre-Columbian statuette representing Ekeko, the Andean god of abundance and prosperity, dating back to the 2nd century B.C. taken from the country in 1858 by explorer Johann Jakob Tschudi. Bolivia has declared a diplomatic crusade for the return of items of national heritage looted over the years.
The statue, according to Morales, was stolen from Bolivia in 1858, when a Swiss diplomat visited Tiahuanaco and "unfortunately" took it with him after getting the Indians there to drink "a liquor called cognac." In 1929 the diplomat's grandchildren sold the Ekeko to a museum in Bern, which has now returned it to Bolivia after a year of negotiations between Bolivian and Swiss authorities. [...] "During the colonial period, our natural resources were constantly being sacked," Morales said, adding that "thousands" of the nation's cultural treasures are now "in the hands of European countries, the United States and England." "It's time they returned our goods... through bilateral diplomatic relations and not under pressure," the president said, urging those countries to return objects of Bolivia's heritage "in the spirit of friendship and brotherhood." 
The Vice Minister for Bolivian Decolonization, Felix Cardenas, explained the need to make an inventory of all examples outside Bolivia in order to recover them. “We ask Bolivians living abroad to help us identify our heirlooms and that way start to arrange their possible return”, explained Cardenas. Cardenas said that the Chachapuma, a large Bolivian effigy is in Germany, and other pieces have been found in France.

 Swiss return to Bolivia pre-Columbian figurine looted in 1858  Vida Latina November 11, 2014 

In Berne, just an exhibited geegaw, but not to all viewers...

1 comment:

  1. This could be a good example for all those in the Western world who are often complaining that non-Western States claim restitution of artefacts stolen or looted long ago. When we put in such claims, we are not complaining about history or past events but referring to a present imbalance where the majority of our best artefacts are in the West. We complain about the present whilst our opponents want to take us to the past when whatever was done by Western States was considered by them as justified by a self-proclaimed mission to civilize the rest of the world, mostly through war and other types of aggression in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
    Kwame Opoku.