Mexico City exchanges Christopher Columbus statue with one of the indigenous women – the organization for world peace
On Sunday, September 7, the mayor of Mexico City said that a sculpture depicting Christopher Columbus would be replaced with a statue paying homage to indigenous women. The statue of Columbus has long been a major feature of the city’s most famous boulevard, Paseo de la Reforma. However, last year the 19th-century statue was removed for maintenance work ahead of an annual protest that challenges statues dedicated to praising historical figures who contributed to colonialism and imperialism. In addition, the new monument aims to ensure “social justice” for the historic role of women in Mexico, especially indigenous women, according to Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum.
The action was implemented as part of a global campaign to remove statues and monuments commemorating historic rulers complicit in colonialism and other forms of oppression. In the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, among others, such monuments have been toppled by protesters or dismantled by city officials in recent years. A significant number of sculptures depicting Christopher Columbus, the Italian navigator whose Spanish-funded missions in the 1490s gave way to European colonialism in the Americas, have been removed from the United States.
The statue of Christopher Columbus in Mexico City, which was presented to the city many years ago, was an important site on Paseo de la Reforma. TThe surrounding roundabout currently bears his name. As a result, spray-paint protesters condemning the European destruction of Mexico’s indigenous civilizations made it a favorite target. It was washed away last year for repairs a few days before Columbus Day, which is celebrated on October 12 in the United States but is known in Mexico as “Dia de la Raza” or “Day of the Race” , Columbus ‘birthday’ landed in the Americas in 1492.
This year marks the 700th anniversary of the founding of Tenochtitlan, the 500th anniversary of its conquest by the Spanish conquistadors, and the 200th anniversary of Mexico’s definitive independence from Spain. The majority of Mexicans are descended from indigenous peoples. During and after the invasion, millions of Indigenous people died from violence and disease. Sheinbaum predicted that “Tlali”, the new statue, would be ready in time for Dia de la Raza this year.
“Of course we recognize Columbus,” the mayor said at a press conference announcing the change on Sunday, calling Columbus “a great international figure.” However, “there are two visions,” she explained, one of which was the European idea of “discovering America,” despite the fact that civilizations had been in Mexico for ages. “And there is another vision from here, that in reality a European arrived in America, made a meeting between two places, then the [Spanish] conquest, ”she explained.
Sheinbaum is a close supporter of left-wing President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who has endeavored to portray his government as a champion of the poor and indigenous peoples, many of whom are among the poorest in the country.
According to the mayor, sculptor Pedro Reyes is currently working on a statue of a woman from the Olmec civilization, which flourished in the Gulf of Mexico from 1200 BC to 400 BC. This new statue is to replace the figure of Columbus on Paseo de la Reforma. The Christopher Columbus statue will be moved to a smaller park in the city’s Polanco district, where it will be less visible.
Tthere have been disagreements within the country over whether to retain the statue of Columbus. Several activists in Mexico have called for the statue to be destroyed as it distorts the history of colonialism by neglecting the violent narratives of oppression facing indigenous society.