Mexico City — Columbus statues have been overthrown throughout the Americas in a fierce debate about the conquest of Europe and the heritage of colonial regions.
Few have been more controversial than the exchange of monuments in the heart of the Mexican capital, touching on some of the most intense controversies in current politics, including race and history, as well as gender. ..
After a long debate, Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum announced on Tuesday that the statue of Columbus, which once overlooked the main boulevard of Mexico City, will be replaced by pre-colonial indigenous people, especially women.
Announced before Mr. Shainbaum ran for president in 2024, the new statue shows women’s resistance to a culture of male dominance by the mayor, the first woman elected to lead the largest city in North America. Countries including.
The new statue “represents the battle of women in Mexican history, especially indigenous women,” she said at a news conference, announcing the decision on the anniversary of Columbus’ first arrival in the Americas. “It’s a history of class and racism from the colonies.”
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador condemns the history of colonialism, celebrates indigenous cultures, and defends himself as a defender of the country’s conservative opposition and the poor, primarily against the European elite. By presenting, we are far ahead of our predecessor.
This year he held an elaborate commemorative ceremony to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the fall of the Aztec capital, Tenochititran, in today’s Mexico City to the Spanish invaders. In recent months he has toured the country to apologize to the indigenous community for colonial atrocities and demanded a similar atonement from the Spanish government.
However, Lopez Obrador shows that Mexico is significantly less sensitive to the growing feminist movement.
In recent years, Mexican women have been increasingly on the streets to demand government action against one of the highest domestic violence in Latin America. At least 10 women and girls were killed on average daily in Mexico last year, with most of the crimes unpunished, according to official government statistics.
Earlier this year, thousands of women protested in Mexico City, attacking the walls outside the presidential residence with bats and torch lamps. Feminist protesters also attacked colonial statues and regarded them as a symbol of Mexican male hegemony.
Lopez Obrador even calls it an opposition ploy to minimize these protests and destabilize his government. Last month he claimed that the feminist movement in Mexico was created only after he took office in 2018.
“They have become conservative feminists just for this purpose and just to influence us,” he says, applying the words he often uses to ridicule his political opponents. I did.
His derogatory remarks pose a political challenge to his disciple and potential successor, Mr. Shainbaum.
She also received criticism from feminist organizations for condemning violent attacks on public buildings in 2019.
“Violence is not fighting violence,” she said at the time.
The statue of Columbus, built on a pedestal in a safe zone in 1877, has been polluted by protesters in the past, and authorities demolished it last year under the threat of further damage.
Instead, there is a replica of a stone sculpture named “Amajak’s Young Woman,” discovered in January in the eastern province of Veracruz, dating back to the Columbus voyage more than 550 years ago. The new figure is three times as tall as the original, about 20 feet tall, and is now in the National Museum of Archeology in Mexico City.
Valeria Moi, director of the Center for Public Policy Research, a Mexican think tank, said choosing a female figure instead of Columbus could appeal to feminists and at the same time support Lopez Obrador’s indigenous rhetoric. Said there is.
“She is trying to satisfy everyone, especially her president,” Moi said. “From a political point of view, the choice of statue seems like a good decision.”
But not everyone is happy with either side of the cultural difference.
“They are focusing on statues, not on the rights of living women,” said Fatima Gamboa, an activist on the Mexican advocacy group Indigenous Lawyers Network.
Gamboa, a member of the Maya indigenous people, said the gesture of celebrating the indigenous heritage of Mexico has little help in improving the precarious socio-economic situation and discrimination that many indigenous women still suffer.
Former Mexican conservative President Felipe Calderon said the Columbus Monument was a valuable part of Mexico’s artistic and historical heritage and did not agree to replace it.
“It’s a crime to get rid of it and cut it,” he wrote on Twitter last month when the Mexican City government first announced plans to replace it with an indigenous symbol. “They are robbing Mexico City, its inhabitants, and all Mexicans.”