Target of vandalism and anti-colonial protests, the Christopher Columbus statue in the emblematic Plaza Colón (Columbus Place) lost its place to an indigenous woman statue. But now officials have voted to put it back up in a quiet and chic district called Polanco.
MEXICO CITY — Christopher Columbus, the 15th century "discoverer" of the Americas, has recently been having a bad run in the Western Hemisphere, among the European conquerors getting a bitter anti-colonial reassessment of their supposed heroic role in history. In Mexico City, authorities recently decided not to restore the prominent Columbus statue to the spot it had occupied since the 19th century, after it was taken down for repairs in October 2020.
Now, Mexico's Council of Monuments, a state body, decided unanimously to move Columbus from the emblematic Plaza Colón (Columbus Place) along the city's most prestigious avenue, to a quieter, residential district called Polanco, the Heraldo de México daily reported.
The statue, which was made in Paris and had become the target of sometimes political graffiti and vandalism in the 1990s, became a touchstone as part of the worldwide Black Lives Matter last year. Now officials have sought to keep Columbus in a public space, but take away much of his spotlight: the spot in Parque América was chosen over 20 other possibilities, in part as this area has the capital's lowest vandalism figure — at least so far. Polanco is a wealthy residential zone that includes embassies, and it may be no coincidence here that it has a greater proportion of residents of Spanish or European origins.
For the Plaza Colón, the city wants instead a monument to commemorate native Mexican women, though that has proved as divisive as Columbus's removal. A sculpture initially chosen, named Tlali, is being shelved, as critics said it was the work of a white, male artist with a Spanish name, Pedro Reyes, and chosen without consultations. Reyes recently insisted the principal challenge in this project was in fact aesthetic, not political. That may be the hardest case of all to make.