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Hero’s hair missing: Florida man demands return of Bolivar’s borrowed hair

Published time: October 17, 2012 13:30
Edited time: October 17, 2012 17:30
A man walks past Simon Bolivar international bridge at the border connecting Colombia with Venezuela (Reuters/Jorge Silva)

A man walks past Simon Bolivar international bridge at the border connecting Colombia with Venezuela (Reuters/Jorge Silva)

Hair loss causes men to panic. But a Florida man didn’t worry about his own when he filed a lawsuit against Venezuela's government demanding the return of a lock of hair from the head of the 19th-century independence hero, Simon Bolivar.

­The suit alleges the Venezuelan government borrowed a selection of artefacts, including a lock of Bolivar’s hair, from Ricardo Devengoechea five years ago but has repeatedly ignored his requests to have them returned, Reuters reported.

Documents and letters, as well as epaulets from one of Napoleon Bonaparte's uniforms were among the borrowed items. 

Devengoechea loaned them to Venezuela in 2007 when he was approached by government officials after President Hugo Chavez ordered an investigation into how Bolivar died.

Considered one of the most influential politicians in the history of the Americas, Bolivar has been admired by Chavez. He reportedly had

Bolivar's bones exhumed for tests and ordered a new mausoleum created for them. Chavez had a 3D image of Bolivar’s face created based on scans of his skull, Reuters reported.

 Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (L) unveils a picture showing the possible face of Liberator Simon Bolivar --a digital rendering from genetic data, following the exumation of Bolivar remains in 2010-- during celebrations of Bolivar′s brithday in Caracas on July 24, 2012. (AFP Photo/Juan Barreto)
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (L) unveils a picture showing the possible face of Liberator Simon Bolivar --a digital rendering from genetic data, following the exumation of Bolivar remains in 2010-- during celebrations of Bolivar's brithday in Caracas on July 24, 2012. (AFP Photo/Juan Barreto)

­Bolivar's hair was allegedly used by Venezuelan officials to verify the authenticity of his remains in Venezuela.   

Devengoechea says Venezuela sent a private jet to Florida to pick him up and transport the artefacts.

After learning that the government had completed its probe into Bolivar's death and the re-burial last year, Devengoechea met with officials from Venezuela's Consulate in Miami to make arrangements for the return of his pieces or for a possible sale to the Venezuelan government.

But Chavez ordered the Miami consulate closed, and since Devengoechea has complained phone calls and letters to the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington have been unanswered.

In the complaint filed in a Miami federal court Devengoechea was reportedly described as a descendant of a founding family of Colombia. He said Bolivar gave the items to his great-great-grandfather.

A spokeswoman at the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit.