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What has happened to the statues of Christopher Columbus in Latin America?


The controversy over Christopher Columbus is rekindled after the announcement in Mexico that an effigy will be replaced by a statue of an indigenous woman.

Statues of Columbus 1:14 vandalized

(CNN Spanish) -

The controversy over the figure of Christopher Columbus is rekindled after officials from Mexico City announced this Sunday that an effigy of the Genoese explorer removed last year will be replaced by a statue of an indigenous woman.

What has happened to the monuments of the so-called "discoverer" of America?

Accusations, destruction, movements and replacements in Chile, Argentina, Mexico, Venezuela and Bolivia show that the trajectory of that admiral has been turbulent.

  • Statue of Christopher Columbus in Mexico City to be replaced by one of an indigenous woman

Protests in Chile

In October 2019, plans to increase the price of the subway ticket in Santiago de Chile triggered protests - several of them violent - that showed the entire world the discontent of a society that rejected the increase in the cost of living, low incomes and inequality.

By early November, approximately 60 statues had suffered damage, according to Chile's Council of National Monuments.

Among the protesters' targets were several figures linked to the colonization process, including Christopher Columbus.

The statue of the navigator located in the Plaza Cristóbal Colón in Arica, which according to the Council had been inaugurated in 1910 for the centenary of independence, was destroyed.

The mayor of the city, Gerardo Espíndola, showed on his Twitter account how it was.

Today the sculpture of Christopher Columbus #Arica was destroyed.

Given the characteristics of the monument, the National Monuments Council will be in charge of the investigation.


- Gerardo Espíndola 👽 (@Gerardo_Arica) November 2, 2019

Mexico, against Colón and Cortés

A Mexican deputy asked last year to remove the statues of Christopher Columbus and Hernán Cortés from Mexico City, and also to change the names of the streets that honor them. "Christopher Columbus committed atrocities such as the mutilation of the indigenous people who did not think the same as him. He also ordered brutal murders of the natives who dared to reveal themselves against their abuses, whom he even ordered to dismember and display them before the people to keep them intimidated," he said. at that time Teresa Ramos, coordinator of the Green Party.

This request came weeks after President Andrés Manuel López Obrador asked the King of Spain to apologize for the "grievances" during the "so-called conquest."

At that time, this was the refusal of the Government of Spain: "The arrival, 500 years ago, of the Spaniards to present-day Mexican lands cannot be judged in light of contemporary considerations."

  • LEE:

    López Obrador asks the King of Spain to apologize for "grievances" during the "so-called conquest";

    the Spanish government rejects it

Although the Green Party initiative was unsuccessful at first, in October 2020 Mexico City officials removed the statue, which has stood on the central Paseo de la Reforma avenue since the late 19th century, from its pedestal for a scheduled restoration. But they were considering the legacy of the man he remembered, city officials said, as Al Jazeera reported at the time.

The pedestal where a statue of Christopher Columbus once stood is now empty in Mexico City.

This Sunday it was finally announced that the statue of Columbus will be moved to Parque América, a park in the Polanco neighborhood of Mexico City, El Universal reported.

It will be replaced by a statue of an indigenous woman to recognize the contributions of the original peoples of Mexico, said the head of Government of Mexico City, Claudia Sheinbaum.

Also in Bolivia

In Bolivia, a year earlier, the protesters did not reach the point of Chile, but they did get close.

In November 2018, the statue of Columbus located in the popular Paseo del Prado in La Paz was vandalized with posters of "Genocidal Columbus" calling for his retirement, reported the EFE agency, which interviewed one of the restaurateurs.


The event happened after the Columbus statue was removed in downtown Los Angeles, California.

At that time, the Government assured that it did so as an act of restorative justice for the original inhabitants.

Christopher Columbus statue removed from downtown Los Angeles 0:32

Then-President Evo Morales celebrated the decision.

"We agree with him (Los Angeles councilor) that the so-called Discovery was a genocide and looting of RRNN (natural resources)," he said on his Twitter account.

The controversy with Cristina Fernández de Kirchner

For almost a century, the "discoverer" of America had a privileged place in Buenos Aires, behind the Casa Rosada, seat of the Presidency.

However, in 2013 the government of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner decided to remove it from that site, according to EFE, and argued the need to carry out maintenance tasks.

The case generated a great controversy in which the Justice was even involved.

  • Statues of Christopher Columbus are being vandalized and demolished in the United States, why?

Who took his place?

Juana Azurduy, a figure linked to the struggle for independence who on the page of the Ministry of Culture of Argentina is described as “the woman who left everything for the independence revolution, losing her family and fighting against the Spanish empire in recent years of the Viceroyalty of Río de la Plata ”.

The sculpture of this "popular heroine" was donated at the time by Evo Morales.

After a long process, the sculpture of Colón was relocated in 2017 in front of the Río de la Plata near one of the city's airports and, according to

 La Nación

, it can no longer be removed after the Government declared it a National Historic Monument. .

Caracas, without traces of the "discoverer"

In Venezuela this dispute occurred many years before. In 2004, supporters of the late President Hugo Chávez made a "symbolic trial" of the statue of Columbus in the Plaza Venezuela in Caracas and the sentence was to tear it down, reported the BBC, which interviewed one of the organizers. This happened two years after Chávez changed the name of “Día de la Raza” to “Day of Indigenous Resistance”. Years later, in 2009, Chávez ordered the removal of the last remaining statue of Columbus in the Venezuelan capital.

These were his words about the navigator who crossed the Atlantic in La Niña, La Pinta and La Santa María, according to information from 

La Nación

 and GDA: "Christopher Columbus was the leader of an invasion that produced not a massacre, but a genocide. Ninety Millions of aborigines lived on this earth, 200 years later there were three million left. What was that? A genocide. "

  • LEE: Why was Christopher Columbus not the hero we learned about in school?

Today, the figure of Columbus is once again in controversy after the beheading of a statue that paid tribute to him in Boston and the vandalization of his figure in several cities during the protests after the death of George Floyd, which question racism and police brutality in the United States and other parts of the world.

In Latin America this debate started much earlier.

Christopher Columbus George Floyd Racism

Source: cnnespanol

All news articles on 2021-09-07

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