Many Americans, especially in Latin America, took to the streets this Tuesday, on Hispanic Heritage Day, to demand the vindication of indigenous rights and show their dissatisfaction with the “violation” they suffered during the discovery in 1492, for which they attacked the statues of Christopher Columbus.
Such is the case of Guatemala City, where this Tuesday a mob painted and damaged some monuments, including that of Columbus himself, which they tied a rope but failed to knock down.
However, the protesters they did remove the head of the sculpture of General José María Reina Barrios, who presided over Guatemala from 1892 to 1898, and who is attributed an accelerated inequality and dictatorial overtones in the Central American nation.
More than 70 organizations from the continent made a declaration in Quito, Ecuador “Of resistance against racism, discrimination and colonialism”, in which they requested compensation and reparation measures “to redress the injustices of which these peoples have been victims.”
In this regard, Gema Tabares, representative of the Afro Caracola Saberes Itinerantes collective, from Mexico, demanded that “they recognize the damage caused to our territories” and made a call “To overcome the relations of colonial thought and discrimination that do not allow us to move towards a more just and egalitarian society ”.
This claim was seconded by the organizations that make up the Black and Indigenous Liberation Movement (BILM), with peaceful protests in the US, Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Uruguay, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Suriname and Spain.
One of the most controversial leaders in America, the Mexican president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who previously requested the King of Spain and Pope Francis to ask forgiveness for the conquest, He took advantage of the occasion today to question what is also known as Columbus Day, saying that “races do not exist” because racism is “inconceivable”.
In Guatemala, where 59% of the more than 16.3 million inhabitants live below the poverty line, most of them indigenous, renamed the commemoration as “Day of the Indigenous, Black and Popular Resistance”, to speak out against “the European invasion.”
In America, the 529 anniversary of the arrival of Christopher Columbus was marked by the announcement of the replacement of his statue on the Paseo de la Reforma, in Mexico City, by the one of “The young woman of Amajac”, in honor to the indigenous women.
Last year, the capital authorities withdrew the image of Colón, days before a demonstration that wanted to tear it down, and today they explained that the new piece will be about 6 meters high and “a lot of historical, cultural and political significance”, according to the mayor, Claudia Sheinbaum.
Since 2020, tributes in squares and parks to the explorer Christopher Columbus and other symbols of the Spanish conquest they have been vandalized in different American cities as a sign of discontent.
The attack on the sculptures alluding to this date began on Monday in the Bahamas, where the authorities filed charges against a man who damaged that of Colón, located in front of the official residence of the governor in Nassau.
But these facts are not new. In Chile, in 2019, protests against the increase in the passage of the metro damaged some 60 statues, including that of Colón, which had been inaugurated in 1910, according to CNN.
In 2018, in Bolivia, the statue of Columbus on the Paseo del Prado in La Paz woke up vandalized one day in November with a sign that read: Columbus genocidal.
An hour before, the statue of Columbus had been removed from downtown Los Angeles, California. According to authorities, the decision was made “as an act of restorative justice for the original inhabitants,” according to CNN.
In Argentina, the government of Cristina Fernández had a statue of Columbus removed in 2013 and Hugo Chávez did it in 2009 in Venezuela.
The “trial” that Chávez supporters had done to another statue in 2004 was famous, where the final verdict and unanimously was his demolition.
And more recently, in 2020, protesters from Puerto Rico They asked for a statue of Columbus to be removed for “genocidal and pedophile.”
In the United States, following the death of African American George Floyd in 2020 at the hands of police, The protests left a statue of Christopher Columbus toppled in Minnesota, another beheaded in Boston and one more vandalized in Miami.
* With information from EFE *