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Statue of Christopher Columbus taken off Mexico’s capital

Authorities in Mexico on Saturday removed a statue of Christopher Columbus from a major city street after activists vowed to pull it down on Monday, 12 October, the day of the commemoration of the explorer’s arrival in the Americas in 1492.

The statue of the Genoese navigator was dismantled and removed from the busy tourist street in collaboration with cultural institutions, the Ministry of Culture announced in a press release.

It said its withdrawal was in response “to the request by the Government of the City of Mexico” to submit the monument “to an examination and possible restoration,” which would be carried out by the National Institute of History and Anthropology, INAH.

Many groups of activists had called for a demonstration under the rallying cry of “Lo Vamos a Derribar” (‘We’re going to pull it down’) on Monday, the 12th of October, celebrated as the Dia de la Raza in Spanish-speaking countries of the Americas and Columbus Day in English-speaking ones.

Presented for a long time as the “discoverer” of the Americas, Columbus is today associated in many minds with the abuses committed by Europeans against Amerindians.

Four statues of Franciscan friars, including Spain’s Bartolomeo de las Casas, have also been removed with a view to their restoration.

The Mayor of Mexico, Claudia Sheinbaum, had intimated at a press conference that after being restored, the monument might not be reinstalled on the avenue, where it had been erected in 1877. “It would perhaps be worthwhile (…) to reflect collectively on what Columbus represents, particularly for next year,” she said.

In 2021, Mexico commemorates the 200th anniversary of its independence and the 500th anniversary of the European invasion after the fall of Tenochtitlan, Mexico City’s name when it was the capital of the Aztec Empire.

In a letter dated the 2nd of October, Mexican President Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador called on the Vatican, the Spanish Crown and Spain’s Government to apologise to indigenous peoples for the “most shameful atrocities” committed during the Spanish Conquest in 1521.

The Brussels Times

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