MEXICO CITY (AP) — Christopher Columbus is getting kicked off Mexico City’s most iconic boulevard.
Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum announced that the Columbus statue on the Paseo de la Reforma, often a focal point for Indigenous rights protests, would be replaced by a statue honoring Indigenous women.
“To them we owe … the history of our country, of our fatherland,” she said.
She made the announcement on Sunday, which was International Day of the Indigenous Woman.
The Columbus statue, donated to the city many years ago, was a significant reference point on the 10-lane boulevard, and surrounding traffic circle is — so far — named for it.
That made it a favorite target of spray-paint-wielding protesters denouncing the European suppression of Mexico’s Indigenous civilizations.
It was removed last year supposedly for restoration, shortly before Oct. 12, which Americans know as Columbus Day but Mexicans call “Dia de la Raza,” or “Day of the Race” — the anniversary of Columbus’ arrival in the Americas in 1492.
When the statue was removed last year, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador noted that “it is a date that is very controversial and lends itself to conflicting ideas and political conflicts.”
This year is the 700th anniversary of the founding of Tenochtitlan — what is now Mexico City — as well as the 500th anniversary of its fall to the Spanish conquistadores, and the 200th anniversary of Mexico’s final independence from Spain.
Most Mexicans have some indigenous ancestry and are well aware that millions of Indigenous people died from violence and disease during and after the conquest .
SheInbaum said the new statue, “Tlali,” might be ready near the date of Dia de la Raza this year.
The Columbus statue isn’t being discarded, but will be moved to a less prominent location in a small park in the Polanco neighborhood. Sheinbaum referred to Columbus “a great international personage.”