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The offending statue of Christopher Columbus. The offending statue of Christopher Columbus.

Controversial Christopher Columbus statue ‘removed for cleaning’

A citizens' group had threatened to remove the 'monument to colonialism'

Protesters had threatened to knock down Mexico City’s Christopher Columbus statue on Reforma Avenue Monday but it was conveniently removed Saturday — for restoration.

Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum denied that its timely removal was due to politics. But no one is saying whether the statue will be returned.

“It’s a project that is being done in conjunction with INAH [National Institute of Anthropology and History] and INBA [National Institute of the Fine Arts],” Sheinbaum said. “The roundabout, particularly, has been painted various times, and since then there have been thoughts about restoring it.”

The statue and the roundabout on which it sits annually attract protests and vandalism around October 12, known as Columbus Day in the United States but Día de la Raza (Day of the Race) in Mexico in recognition of the indigenous people Christopher Columbus encountered upon his arrival in the Americas.

In the days leading up to annual commemorations of the holiday, protesters were vowing to take the statue down today.

Sheinbaum dismissed the notion that the statue’s removal was motivated by the threat yet noted that the statue’s restoration could be an opportunity to reflect upon what Columbus represents.

The perspective that all Mexicans learned in school about the discovery of America — “as if America didn’t exist before Columbus arrived,” Sheinbaum said — as well as the story of Spanish explorer Pedro de Alvarado, who notoriously massacred indigenous Mexicas in 1520 during a religious celebration in the Templo Mayor, could be taken into account for next year’s celebration of the founding of Mexico-Tenochtitlán.

When asked by a reporter with El Financiero if the monument’s removal would be permanent, Sheinbaum said that decision was not solely hers to make.

A petition appeared online in July asking the city to remove the statue on the grounds that it represented a “monument to colonialism.”

Source: El Financiero (sp)

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