Mexico City to replace its statue of Christopher Columbus with a replica of a pre-Hispanic indigenous female figure

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A replica of a pre-Hispanic sculpture of an indigenous woman will be installed on one of Mexico City’s busiest boulevards, permanently replacing an important statue of Christopher Columbus.

Mexico City Head of Government Claudia Sheinbaum yesterday announced the news – the anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the Americas – explaining that the new monument is part of the “decolonization” of the capital’s Paseo de la Reforma . The character, she said, “will be the one who represents the women and in particular the indigenous women of our country to us,” she said.

The decision ends a long saga over which works of art should be exhibited on the capital’s Paseo de la Reforma. Mexican artist Pedro Reyes was originally commissioned for the work, for which he planned to make a sculpture of a woman from the Mesoamerican Olmec civilization.

“It is very important to dedicate a monument to indigenous women and to the earth, because if anyone can teach us to take care of this planet, it is our indigenous peoples and that is precisely what we have to relearn”, said declared the artist. at the time.

The statue of the “Young woman of Amajac” discovered at the beginning of the year. Courtesy of the National Institute of Anthropology and History. Photo: Photo: Maria Eugenia Maldonado Vite.

But less than two weeks later, Reyes was from the project after an outcry from artists and activists who argued that a male sculptor should not have been chosen to represent or commemorate Indigenous women. In an open letter to Sheinbaum, six women artists called Reyes’ proposal a “generalization that denies the peculiarities and diversity of women who identify as members of indigenous nations and peoples, and places their image in the hands of women. ‘a white mestizo. man.”

The six-foot-tall limestone statue that the new monument will be based on was discovered by archaeologists in January and is currently in the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City. She is nicknamed the “Young Woman of Amajac” after the village where she was unearthed, in the region of Huasteca, near the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.

Based on her posture and attire, experts believe the woman may have represented a member of the ruling class and may have been the Huastec goddess of land and fertility. Little is known about the origins of the figure.

The planned replica for the Paseo de la Reforma will be more than three times the size of the original and even larger than the bronze monument to Christopher Columbus erected on the site over 150 years ago.

The Christopher Columbus statue has been missing from sight since October 2020, when the city apparently removed it for cleaning. But many speculated at the time that it had been removed as a preventive measure before Dia de la Raza, the Mexican version of Columbus Day, an occasion that had caused the sculpture to be vandalized on several occasions in the past.

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