Montreal Gazette

Mexico City to replace statue of Columbus

Indigenous woman figure to be replacemen­t

- ADELA SULIMAN AND SOFIA DIOGO MATEUS

THE ROUNDABOUT WILL ... BECOME A GREAT RECOGNITIO­N

OF THE 500 YEARS OF RESISTANCE

OF ... INDIGENOUS WOMEN.

A statue of Christophe­r Columbus that was on prominent display in Mexico City will be replaced by a female Indigenous figure, the city's mayor said this weekend.

The looming Columbus figure has stood tall on the Paseo de la Reforma boulevard for over 100 years, but on Sunday the mayor of the capital city, Claudia Sheinbaum, said it was time for a change of landscape and to make way for a monument that delivers “social justice.”

“We are announcing that the Columbus roundabout will very soon, in October, become a great recognitio­n of the 500 years of resistance of the Indigenous women of our country,” Sheinbaum said. “We owe it to them.”

Although the country recognizes Columbus, “there are two visions,” one native and the other a European vision of the “discovery of America,” she told an event in the capital.

The statue was taken down from the Paseo de la Reforma boulevard last year for restoratio­n work ahead of an annual protest and has not been put back up.

Sheinbaum is an ally of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who has staked a large part of his leftist political claim around championin­g Mexico's Indigenous communitie­s.

Last month, López Obrador asked the country's Indigenous peoples for forgivenes­s for the abuses inflicted on them during the bloody 1521 Spanish conquest of the Aztec empire. He has previously called on Spain's royal family and Pope Francis to formally apologize for atrocities committed during the Spanish conquest at the beginning of the 16th century.

The replacemen­t of Columbus figures has been common in the U.S. too, where statues of the Italian navigator have been removed or defaced in places like Richmond, Va.; Boston and St. Paul, Minn., since Black Lives Matter protests prompted a worldwide re-examinatio­n of the colonial era.

For Mónica Moreno Figueroa, a Mexican academic in the United Kingdom and co-founder of the Collective to Eliminate Racism in Mexico (COPERA), the removal of the Columbus statue is “symbolical­ly important.”

Figueroa said she welcomed the public debate that the decision had spawned over “what kind of images we want in the public space.” However, simply replacing Columbus with a possibly anonymous Indigenous woman, in a country that is home to at least 50 Indigenous groups, lacked nuance, she added.

“It's good to have this debate and to think about what to do with these things but I think a replacemen­t in itself needs to be carefully thought about,” Figueroa said.

I THINK A REPLACEMEN­T IN ITSELF NEEDS TO BE CAREFULLY THOUGHT ABOUT.

 ?? FERNANDO LLANO / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FILES ?? Graffiti that reads “Christophe­r Columbus assassin, we've already knocked him down,” is seen on a barrier at Mexico City's Columbus statue last October.
FERNANDO LLANO / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FILES Graffiti that reads “Christophe­r Columbus assassin, we've already knocked him down,” is seen on a barrier at Mexico City's Columbus statue last October.
 ?? MARCO UGARTE / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FILES ?? A statue of Christophe­r Columbus stands defaced in Mexico City last year. It will be replaced by a statue honouring Indigenous women, says Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum.
MARCO UGARTE / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FILES A statue of Christophe­r Columbus stands defaced in Mexico City last year. It will be replaced by a statue honouring Indigenous women, says Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum.

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