Page last updated at 06:32 GMT, Monday, 21 December 2009

Chavez seeks to rename Venezuela's Angel Falls

Angel Falls
Angel Falls could henceforth be known as Kerepakupai-Meru

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has called for the world's highest waterfall, Angel Falls, to be given back its indigenous name.

The falls, which drop nearly 1km (0.6 miles) from a flat-topped mountain in the south of Venezuela, are currently named after a 1930s US aviator.

Jimmy Angel is believed to have been the first outsider to see them.

Mr Chavez said they should be called Kerepakupai-Meru, the name used by the indigenous Pemon people of the area.

Mr Chavez, who accuses the US of plotting against his country, said that thousands of indigenous people had seen the falls before Jimmy Angel "discovered" them.

Angel Falls at least partially inspired Paradise Falls, the fantasy Latin American waterfall in the recent Disney/Pixar animated film Up.

Third name

Speaking on his weekly TV show, Mr Chavez asked Venezuelans how they could accept the idea that "the highest waterfall in the world was discovered by a man who came from the United States in a plane?"

US explorer Jimmy Angel in 1937
Jimmy Angel's ashes were scattered over the waterfall

"With all respect to that man who came, who saw it, we should change that name, right?" he argued.

He initially said the name should be "Churun-Meru" but then corrected himself on air after receiving a note from his daughter Maria pointing out that the Pemon Indian name of the waterfall was Kerepakupai-Meru.

After several minutes practising the proper name, the president of the mainly Spanish-speaking country declared he had mastered it.

"That's the name... the name of the Indians," he said.

The waterfall is among Venezuela's most famous tourist destinations.

Jimmy Angel died at the age of 57 in a 1956 plane crash in Panama.

"One could say he was the first one to see it from a plane," Mr Chavez said.

"But how many millions of indigenous eyes saw it, and prayed to it? No-one should refer to Angel Falls any more," he added.

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Mail Online UK Angel Falls renamed 'Kerepakupai Meru' so it no longer commemorates U.S. pilot who 'discovered' them - 2 hrs ago
China Post Chavez proposes renaming the world's tallest waterfall - 12 hrs ago
The Independent Waterfall puts Chavez in a froth - 14 hrs ago
Telegraph Hugo Chavez renames Angel Falls - 20 hrs ago
Boston Globe Chavez wants to rename world's tallest waterfall - 35 hrs ago

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