A petition to restore the Christopher Columbus statue on Reforma Avenue has gained almost 18,000 signatures and political backing.
Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum announced this month that a sculpture of an indigenous Olmec woman would take the place of the Columbus statue, and that the Columbus sculpture — removed in October, purportedly for repairs, amid threats it would be knocked down — would be relocated to Parque América, a park in the affluent Polanco district.
The petition on change.org has been signed by federal Deputy Margarita Zavala and her husband ex-president Felipe Calderón, who both belong to the National Action Party (PAN).
“Mexicans and particularly the inhabitants of the capital of the country feel indignant due to the withdrawal of our historical heritage on the pretext of its repair. We consider that it is a decision that is populist in nature,” the petition reads.
It added that Sheinbaum’s actions were illegal and broke the Federal Law of Monuments and Archeological, Artistic and Historic Areas.
“Mexican citizens demand that [Sheinbaum] and the National Institute of Anthropology immediately return the statue of Christopher Columbus to its plinth, and that those responsible be subjected to the requisite punishment,” the petition continued.
It accuses Sheinbaum of a “revisionist vision of history.”
President López Obrador celebrated the replacement of the statue last week. “It is a recognition of the cultural greatness of deep Mexico, of pre-Hispanic Mexico to its cultures,” he said in his morning press conference Wednesday.
The government has also been accused of trying to revise history. This year events are celebrating “500 years of indigenous resistance” to coincide with the 500th anniversary of the fall of Aztec Empire, alongside 200 years since independence. Academics and archaeologists criticized the government for appending another anniversary to the list: events were held this year to celebrate the 700th year anniversary of the foundation of Mexico City’s forbear Tenochtitlán, although experts say it was founded in 1325.
The Columbus statue was created by French sculptor Charles Cordier almost 150 years ago. The statue of the Olmec woman will be called “Tlalli” — meaning Earth, world or land in Náhuatl — and sculptor Pedro Reyes has been commissioned to produce it.
He published a likeness of the woman on social media last week but Mayor Sheinbaum said later it was only a draft.
With reports from Forbes México