A few days before the 200e anniversary of the country’s independence from Spanish rule, the Mexican authorities confirmed, Monday, September 6, that a statue of the Italian navigator and explorer Christopher Columbus would be replaced by that of an indigenous woman.
“The sculpture will be moved to a safe, dignified and adequate place”, reported the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) in a statement. In its place will be installed a sculpture of “Olmec woman”, made by Mexican artist Pedro Reyes, Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said at a public event that coincided with the celebration of International Indigenous Women’s Day on Sunday.
“It is precisely the indigenous women who have perhaps had the greatest weight in the history of Mexico and who have been the least recognized”, she said. The decision also represents an act of ” social justice “added Mme Sheinbaum, as well as the recognition of five hundred years of “Indigenous resistance” since the conquest.
Request for an apology
The statue of Christopher Columbus, who is credited with discovering the American continent under the patronage of the Spanish crown, had been placed in a roundabout in the central avenue Paseo de la Reforma (“Reformation promenade”) in 1877, near the ruins of the Templo Mayor, the heart of Aztec civilization.
The authorities had withdrawn it in October 2020 so that it could be “Taken care of by personnel specialized in conservation and restoration”. But, instead of being delivered to the same place, it will be sent to another district of the capital to avoid “The risks for this piece of important artistic and historical value”, said INAH.
The removal of the statue was decided shortly after a social media appeal was broadcast to bring it down, in “Homage to the millions of natives and descendants of Africans massacred” after the discovery of America, according to campaign organizers. The statue of Christopher Columbus as well as the monument of the Angel of Independence were also marked with protest graffiti during feminist marches.
The government of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador claims to defend indigenous causes. He called on the Spanish government and the Vatican to issue historic apologies for the abuses committed during the conquest and evangelization of their territory.