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Costa Rica 'more complete' after recovering 200 artefacts from Venezuela


Costa Rica said it is "more complete" after recovering nearly 200 pre-Columbian artefacts from Venezuela, where they had been amassed by a wealthy Estonian art collector.

Costa Rica 'more complete' after recovering 200 artefacts from Venezuela
Credit: Ezequiel Becerra/AFP
The handover of the 196 stone and ceramic figurines to the National Museum in Costa Rica on Wednesday marked the biggest-ever return of archaeological items to the Central American country.

Costa Rica 'more complete' after recovering 200 artefacts from Venezuela
Credit: Ezequiel Becerra/AFP
The figurines included representations of warriors and animals, as well as hand-crafted spheres and grinding stones made by indigenous people who had lived in different parts of Costa Rica for thousands of years before Christopher Columbus arrived in 1502.

Costa Rica 'more complete' after recovering 200 artefacts from Venezuela
Credit: Ezequiel Becerra/AFP
The head of the museum's heritage protection department, Marlin Calvo, told a news conference that the artifacts had been taken out of the country via "illicit trafficking."

Costa Rica 'more complete' after recovering 200 artefacts from Venezuela
Credit: Ezequiel Becerra/AFP
They ended up in the possession of Harry Mannil, an Estonian businessman who settled for most of his life in Venezuela and who died in Costa Rica in 2010.

Costa Rica 'more complete' after recovering 200 artefacts from Venezuela
Credit: Ezequiel Becerra/AFP
Mannil's Caracas house operated as a private museum, displaying the many works of pre-Columbian and South American indigenous art he had accumulated.

Costa Rica 'more complete' after recovering 200 artefacts from Venezuela
Credit: Ezequiel Becerra/AFP
The pieces returned to Costa Rica were seized by Venezuelan authorities between 2009 and 2014. Mannil had tried to transfer some of them to the United States but was stopped by Venezuela's customs service.

Costa Rica 'more complete' after recovering 200 artefacts from Venezuela
Credit: Ezequiel Becerra/AFP
Venezuela shipped them out on December 24 and they arrived in Costa Rica on January 2 ahead of the formal delivery to the National Museum.

Costa Rica 'more complete' after recovering 200 artefacts from Venezuela
Credit: Ezequiel Becerra/AFP
"Today, Costa Rica is more complete," President Luis Guillermo Solis told the news conference.

Costa Rica 'more complete' after recovering 200 artefacts from Venezuela
Credit: Ezequiel Becerra/AFP
"Today, the country, with the return of these nearly 200 items from our heritage, is complemented, is filled up with a part of ourselves that wasn't with us," he said.

Costa Rica 'more complete' after recovering 200 artefacts from Venezuela
Credit: Ezequiel Becerra/AFP
Solis added the artifacts had "suffered so many humiliations in the hands of those who had illegally grabbed this important part of our history," and called on the National Museum to display them in a special section.

Source: AFP [January 18, 2018]

TANN

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