A cultural heritage organization in Venezuela says metal theft has led to an alarming number of statues and plaques being either stolen or partially dismantled in that nation.
An online article by El Universal says the Caracas-based Institutional Assets and Monuments of Venezuela (IAM Venezuela) has reported on “the proliferation of thefts of bronze and copper sculptures and monuments, mainly in the border states” of Venezuela.
The organization says many of the missing plaques, sculptures and parts are being sold for scrap in neighboring Colombia, as a means to earn currency other than the declining Venezuelan bolivar.
According to El Universal, among the thefts documented by the organization in recent months are the disappearance of the sculpture of historian Tulio Febres Cordero and an arm of the sculpture of author Gabriel García Márquez from a garden dedicated to literary greats in the Venezuelan city of Mérida. Other statues have gone missing or suffered "amputations" in the cities of Coro, Maracaibo and Valencia.
IAM Venezuela says the criminal practice has gained momentum as a result of the continuous devaluation of the bolivar.
The president of another not-for-profit arts organization in Venezuela is quoted as saying, “We urge citizens not to be silent about the smuggling of bronze, and the vandalism that affects Venezuela's historic heritage.”