Mexico City marks Columbus Day without statue of Columbus
MEXICO CITY (AP) - Mexicans never had much affection for Cristopher Columbus, and officials were shy about why his statue was removed from the capital's main boulevard the weekend before Columbus Day celebrations on Monday, which featured several Latin American ones Countries protests took place.
In contrast to other cities where the monuments of the explorer from the 15th century were overthrown by protesters, in Mexico City the bronze statue from the 19th century was carefully lifted from the pedestal with a crane and removed for restoration. But the guides danced to the question of when or if it would return.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said it was just a coincidence that it was removed shortly before the anniversary of Columbus' arrival on the American continent - known in Spanish-speaking countries as "Día de la Raza". In recent years, left-wing and indigenous groups have sprayed the statue on October 12, as well as during many other protests, and likely did so again this year.
“As far as I know, they took the statue down to restore it. And yes, it matched today's date, but that shouldn't be misinterpreted. “López Obrador said, while acknowledging," it is a date that is very controversial and lends itself to conflicting ideas and political conflict. "
In Mexico's western state of Michoacan, a coalition blocked mostly Purepecha communities on Monday roads leading to their areas and issued a statement saying, "We have not been" discovered "... our land has been attacked and looted, not discovered. "
Clashes occurred elsewhere in the region when police tried to stop the demonstration. An unauthorized march in support of the largest indigenous group in Chile, the Mapuche. The Mapuche long opposed the Spanish conquerors and later the Chilean government, and the march is held annually to draw attention to their plight and to reiterate their claims to the reclamation of the ancestral land.
In Bolivia, demonstrators painted a statue of Columbus red to symbolize the blood of the indigenous peoples, and dressed a statue of Queen Elizabeth I in the clothes of an indigenous Chola woman during the demonstrations on the so-called “Day of Decolonization”.
In Mexico, López Obrador scolded both of them against the conquest and treasured history very much. He asked the Mexicans not to "direct their anger on statues". Over the weekend, he again demanded that Spain and the Roman Catholic Church apologize for abuses committed during the conquest of Mexico in the 16th century, despite Spain refusing to apologize as early as 2019.
The National Institute of Anthropology and History, which oversees such monuments, only said that "the date for the statue's return will be set by the Mexico City government" once the restoration work is complete. There's another lesser-known statue of Columbus in the capital, but it's on a little-visited median. Even so, a group of protesters gathered on Monday and tried to reach this statue but were driven back by police.
Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum declined to say much about the fate of the main statue, which was removed over the weekend.
"Perhaps now that it is being restored, it is worth thinking about what it represents," she said.
When asked whether the statue should be put back, Sheinbaum said, “I'm not saying no, I'm not saying yes. I don't even think the mayor should make that decision alone; I think a debate should be opened. "
She also raised the question of whether the streets of the city should continue to bear the names of brutal Spanish conquistadors such as Pedro de Alvarado, one of Hernán Cortes' officers responsible for a massacre of people in Tenochtitlan, the Aztech capital that became part of Mexico. City was blamed. A section of the Mexico-Tacuba Dam, one of the oldest streets in America, is named "Puente de Alvarado" after the conquistador.
"I think it would be worthwhile for historians, the public and everyone to think about it in the light of next year," Sheinbaum said of the 200th anniversary of the victory of the Mexican struggle for independence between 1810 and 1821 against Spain.
On Monday, just two days after the statue was removed, the steel barriers that protected the stone base of the monument were already covered with graffiti that read: "Christopher Columbus, murderer!", "To the junkyard!" and "We overthrew him!"
Most Mexicans have indigenous ancestors and are well aware that millions of indigenous peoples died of violence and disease during and after the conquest.
"I disagree with this type of memorial on the streets because I think it represents oppression," said Viridiana Chacon, a marketing specialist, on Saturday as she passed the empty base that the Statue stood.
However, some Mexicans fear the government is falling into the same old trap of demolishing historic landmarks as the reformist government of the 1860s, which fought against the immense power of the Church and destroyed colonial religious buildings in Mexico City.
"Everything seems to indicate that they want to use the old methods to remember the 500th anniversary," wrote columnist Héctor De Mauleón in the newspaper El Universal. "The problem is that history cannot be buried. What can be erased is the memory that the government is supposed to preserve and that it is responsible for losing."
On Saturday, López Obrador published an open letter to Pope Francis: "The Catholic Church, the Spanish monarchy and the Mexican government should apologize publicly for the offensive atrocities committed by the indigenous people."
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