The National Museum of Costa Rica (MNCR) is exhibiting 196 recovered pre-Columbian artifacts after they were decommissioned in Venezuela between 2010 and 2014 and brought back to the Central American country by sea.
Speaking at a press conference at MNRC's headquarters, the director of the institution, Rocio Fernandez, affirmed that "this repatriation case of a Costa Rican archeological archive represents a legal milestone in the fight against illicit trafficking of cultural assets in Latin America."
The pre-Columbian pieces, according to MNCR, are made of stone and ceramics. According to Prensa Latina, the archive includes two stone spheres measuring 55 and 78 centimeters in diameter – as well as metates, barrels, clay warriors and pots – and represents several regions.
The organization specified that the first pieces were detected in 2009 at the customs office of La Guaira, Caracas, in Venezuela and were destined for the United States.
Venezuelan customs authorities alerted the Costa Rican government through their embassy in the South American country. Expert opinions were requested to corroborate the authenticity of every piece.
In September 2014, Venezuelan authorities raided the Mannil house in Caracas, where they found other pre-Columbian pieces originating from Costa Rica, according to Prensa Latina.
Most of the 78 objects were confiscated. The remaining pieces, either because of their weight or the fact that they were attached to the walls, were left in place with an order not to move or market them.
After their recovery, MNCR stated that the pieces remained in the custody of the Cultural Heritage Institute of Venezuela and the National Art Gallery collection in Caracas, where they were kept in very good condition.
They were eventually transported to Costa Rica on January 5.