Costa Rica seeks the repatriation of 52 pre-Columbian pieces that would be auctioned in Germany. The management was confirmed by the national ambassador to the European nation, Lydia María Peralta Cordero, through the press office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship (MREC). The diplomat assured – without delving into details – that steps are being taken with the German government to recover the objects.
In total, the National Museum of Costa Rica determined that there are 52 archaeological pieces that are in the possession of the Gerhard Hirsch Nachfolger commercial house, based in Munich. Likewise, of six other objectives it was not possible to verify their authenticity and they were classified as replicas. The Costa Rican legislation in force since 1938 prescribes that the pieces from the pre-Columbian era are property of the State and their export is prohibited.
In addition, a technical report received from the National Museum’s Department for the Protection of Cultural Heritage indicated that there was no supporting documentation that the Costa Rican pieces to be auctioned had come out legally, so they were probably the product of illicit traffic.
That auction was scheduled to take place last Tuesday at the Gerhard Hirsch Nachfolger. Ten embassies of the Latin American and Caribbean Group (Grulac) -including that of Costa Rica– signed a joint statement to the commercial house with which they intended to stop the auction of the pieces.
Proof of legality
At the same time, the diplomatic headquarters sent a note to the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Germany, in which they asked the portfolio to investigate whether there is proof of the legality of the possession of the pre-Columbian pieces by their possessors. As long as that proof did not exist, the help of the authorities was requested to suspend the auction.
The letter recalled the obligations derived from the Convention of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) of 1970, against the illicit traffic of cultural property.