Mexico takes down Columbus statue ahead of protest

Source: AFP Published: 2020/10/11 14:28:42

A woman looks at a statue depicting Christopher Columbus which had its head removed at Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park on Wednesday in Boston, Massachusetts. The statue was beheaded overnight and is scheduled to be removed by the City of Boston. Photo: AFP

Mexican authorities on Saturday removed a statue of Christopher Columbus that stood in the capital, two days before protesters planned to knock it down during events commemorating the Italian navigator's arrival in the Americas.

The culture ministry said the statue was removed from Reforma Avenue in Mexico City on the request of city officials, adding it was taken down for restoration.

Activist groups had organized a protest called "We're going to knock it down" for Monday, the date marking Columbus' arrival in America in 1492. 

In Mexico, the date is commemorated as Dia de la Raza (Day of the Race), in recognition of the country's mixed indigenous and European heritage.

Activists in the US have torn down and vandalized statues honoring Columbus in recent months, claiming they symbolize the genocide and exploitation of Native American people.

Mexico City's statue, which had been damaged in 1992, was the first monument installed on Reforma Avenue in 1877.

Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said it could be returned after the restoration work was complete.

"Maybe it would be worth... a collective reflection on what [Columbus] represents, especially toward next year," Sheinbaum said. 

The controversy came the same day as the release of a letter in which Mexico's president asked Pope Francis for an apology for the Catholic Church's role in the oppression of indigenous people in the Spanish conquest 500 years ago.

In the letter, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said the Spanish crown, Spain's government and the Vatican should apologize to native people for the "most reprehensible atrocities" committed after Spanish conquistadors arrived in Mexico in 1521.


Posted in: AMERICAS

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