Mexico Metropolis Replaces a Statue of Columbus With Considered one of an Indigenous Girl | Latest News Table

Mexico Metropolis Replaces a Statue of Columbus With Considered one of an Indigenous Girl

MEXICO CITY — Statues of Columbus are being toppled throughout the Americas, amid fierce debates over the area’s legacy of European conquest and colonialism.

Few have been extra contentious than the substitute of a monument on the coronary heart of Mexico’s capital, pertaining to among the most intense disputes within the nation’s present politics, together with not simply race and historical past, but in addition intercourse.

After extended debate, Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum introduced Tuesday that the Columbus statue that after gazed down on Mexico Metropolis’s predominant boulevard can be changed with a pre-colonial Indigenous determine — notably, a lady.

Introduced forward of Ms. Sheinbaum’s anticipated run for president in 2024, the brand new statue is broadly seen as an try by the mayor, who’s the primary lady elected to steer North America’s largest metropolis, to handle — or exploit — the cultural tensions gripping the nation, together with the rising resistance by girls to a male-dominated tradition.

The brand new statue “represents the battle of girls, significantly the Indigenous ones, in Mexican historical past,” she mentioned in a information convention asserting the choice on the anniversary of Columbus’s first arrival within the Americas. “It’s a historical past of classism, of racism that comes from the colony.”

Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has gone farther than his predecessors in denouncing the historical past of colonialism, celebrating Indigenous tradition and presenting himself because the defender of the poor towards the nation’s conservative opposition and principally European-descended elite.

He staged elaborate commemorations this 12 months to mark the five hundred years because the fall of the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan, positioned in at the moment’s Mexico Metropolis, to Spanish invaders. He toured the nation in latest months to apologize to Indigenous communities for colonial atrocities, and has demanded comparable atonement from the Spanish authorities.

However Mr. López Obrador has proven considerably much less sensitivity to Mexico’s rising feminist motion.

In recent times, Mexican girls have more and more taken to the streets to demand authorities motion towards one in every of Latin America’s highest charges of home violence. At the very least 10 girls and ladies had been murdered in Mexico on common day-after-day final 12 months, based on official authorities figures, and many of the crimes go unpunished.

Earlier this 12 months, hundreds of girls turned out to protest in Mexico Metropolis, attacking ramparts exterior the presidential residence with bats and blowtorches. Feminist protesters have additionally attacked colonial statues, seeing them as symbols of Mexico’s male hegemony.

Mr. López Obrador has minimized these protests, going as far as to name them an opposition ploy to destabilize his authorities. Final month, he claimed the feminist motion in Mexico was solely created after he took workplace in 2018.

“That they had turn into conservative feminists solely to have an effect on us, just for this function,” he mentioned, making use of to the feminists a phrase he usually makes use of to deride his political opponents.

His disparaging remarks have introduced a political problem to his protégé and attainable successor, Ms. Sheinbaum, who has tried to place herself because the chief of a extra progressive, youthful wing of the president’s left-leaning Morena social gathering.

She has additionally drawn criticism from the feminist organizations by condemning violent assaults on public buildings in 2019.

“Violence is just not fought with violence,” she mentioned on the time.

The bronze statue of Columbus, erected in 1877 atop a pedestal in a site visitors island, had been defaced by protesters previously, and officers took it down final 12 months, amid threats of additional injury.

As a replacement can be a reproduction of a stone carving named “the Younger Woman of Amajac,” which was found in January within the japanese state of Veracruz and dates to across the time of Columbus’s voyages, greater than 550 years in the past. The brand new determine will stand about 20 toes tall, 3 times the peak of the unique, now housed within the Nationwide Museum of Archaeology in Mexico Metropolis.

The selection of a statue of a lady to interchange Columbus might attraction to feminists, whereas on the identical time supporting the Indigenous rhetoric of Mr. López Obrador, mentioned Valeria Moy, director of Middle of Public Coverage Analysis, a Mexican assume tank.

“She is making an attempt to fulfill everybody, particularly her president,” mentioned Ms. Moy. “From a political standpoint, the statue selection looks as if determination.”

However not everybody was happy, on both aspect of the cultural divide.

“They’re specializing in the statue, with out specializing in the rights of girls who’re alive,” mentioned Fatima Gamboa, an activist with the Indigenous Lawyer Community, a Mexican advocacy group.

Ms. Gamboa, a member of the Maya Indigenous individuals, mentioned a gesture celebrating Mexico’s Indigenous heritage does little to enhance the precarious socio-economic situations and discrimination nonetheless suffered by many Indigenous girls.

A conservative former president of Mexico, Felipe Calderón, mentioned the monument to Columbus was a precious piece of Mexico’s creative and historic heritage, and disagreed with its substitution.

“To take away it, to mutilate it, is against the law,” he wrote on Twitter final month, when Mexico Metropolis’s authorities first introduced plans to interchange it with an Indigenous image. “They’re robbing it from Mexico Metropolis, its residents, and all Mexicans.”

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