A statue of explorer Christopher Columbus that was removed in Mexico City last year will be replaced with a statue of an indigenous woman honoring the country’s indigenous people, Mexico City’s mayor said Sunday.
Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum announced that the statue of Columbus, which had stood on a roundabout on Paseo de la Reforma, would be replaced by a statue honoring native women.
“We are putting up a statue dedicated to the Indigenous woman,” she said at a press conference on Indigenous Women’s Day on Sunday. “We owe it to them. We exist thanks to them,” she added. “It is the history of our country and our homeland.”
She said the statue would be placed on October 12, Dia de la Raza, a day to recognize the legacies of Columbus and indigenous cultures. .
In Mexico City, the Columbus statue was removed for restoration work before Oct. 12 last year, according to The Associated Press. Then graffiti covered metal barriers that surrounded the area, which read in Spanish: “Christopher Columbus killer!! We’ve already knocked him down!!”
Monuments to Columbus, the Italian navigator who sailed to the Americas on behalf of Spain in 1492, have provoked objections and protests for at least a century, with many describing him as a founder of Western Hemisphere colonialism and the transatlantic slave trade.
In the United States, a growing number of states, cities, and towns have moved to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day instead of Columbus Day, a federal holiday — which sometimes backfires.
The moves follow lengthy calls from Native American groups, who claim Columbus’s voyages led to the genocide of Native Americans in the Americas, to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
Last year, protesters around the world damaged statues of Columbus after demonstrations against the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis grew into monuments seen as symbols of white supremacy and oppression.
In St. Paul, Minn., a group of protesters tied ropes around the neck of a 10-foot-tall bronze sculpture of Columbus and tore it from its pedestal. In Boston, the head of a statue of Columbus in the North End was removed and pieces of it were found nearby.
And in Richmond, Virginia, a statue of Columbus was taken down and thrown into a lake in a city park during a demonstration in support of indigenous peoples.
When Mexico City’s statue was removed last year, Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Columbus Day was “a date that is highly controversial and lends itself to conflicting ideas and political conflict”.
The statue of Columbus will be moved to Parque América in the city’s Polanco neighborhood, Mayor Sheinbaum said.