Many Americans, especially in Latin America, took to the streets yesterday, on Hispanic Heritage Day, to demand the vindication of indigenous rights and show their dissatisfaction with the "infringement" that they suffered during the discovery in 1492, for which they were thrown at the ready against the statues of Christopher Columbus.
More than 70 organizations from the continent made a declaration in Quito "resistance against racism, discrimination and colonialism", in which they requested compensation and reparation measures "to redress the injustices of which they have been victims" these towns.
In this regard, Gema Tabares, representative of the Afro Caracola Saberes Itinerantes collective from Mexico, demanded that "recognize the damage caused to our territories" and made a call "to overcome the relations of colonial thought and discrimination that do not allow us to advance towards a more just and egalitarian society".
This claim was supported by the organizations that make up the Black and Indigenous Liberation Movement (BILM), with peaceful protests in the United States, Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Uruguay, Brazil, and the Dominican Republic. , Suriname and Spain.
With these activities, according to Leonardo Cerda, a Kichwa indigenous person from Ecuador and founder of BILM, it became clear that the current "It is a moment of humanity in which we must be united to face great challenges such as climate change or the devastation of nature, but this cannot happen if we do not face problems such as racism or discrimination beforehand.".
No to colonialism, no to racism
One of the most controversial leaders in America, the Mexican president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who previously requested the King of Spain and Pope Francis to apologize for the conquest, took the opportunity today to question the also known as Day of the Race, saying that "the races do not exist" because racism is "inconceivable".
His Peruvian counterpart, Pedro Castillo, did the same by renaming the date as the "Day of Indigenous Peoples and Intercultural Dialogue" with the objective of "recognize and value" to said community to ensure "respect for your rights".
In Venezuela, its president Nicolás Maduro insisted this Tuesday, the day the Caribbean country commemorates indigenous resistance, that Spain must apologize to America for the "300 year genocide" against native peoples.
"We join the voices in America that have risen to demand that the King of Spain rectify his position, reflect and ask America for forgiveness for the 300-year genocide against native peoples", said from Miraflores in an act broadcast by the state channel Venezolana de Televisión (VTV).
Also in Guatemala, where 59% of the more than 16.3 million inhabitants live below the poverty line, most of them indigenous, renamed the commemoration as "Indigenous, Black and Popular Resistance Day", to raise your voice against "the european invasion".
In this regard, the Maya K’iche spokesperson Andrea Ixchíu indicated that the mere existence of indigenous peoples "is resistance", well they carry "529 years sowing futures despite colonial, genocidal and ecocidal violence".
Hundreds of indigenous people from various departments of Paraguay also joined this clamor, who marched through the center of Asunción in demand for their rights and the restitution of their lands, within a problem that they demand to be addressed in a work table formed by the three powers of the State.
Some 122,000 indigenous people live in the South American country, belonging to 19 peoples. Of these, 66.2% are in poverty and 34.4% are in extreme poverty.
In contrast, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis defended the commemoration of Christopher Columbus’s voyage that led to the discovery of America as a celebration of a "fundamental piece of the creation of the western world".
In his message, DeSantis criticized President Joe Biden’s decision to declare it Indigenous Peoples Day after acknowledging the suffering of Native Americans at the hands of European explorers.
Less Christopher Columbus, more indigenous leaders
In America, the 529 anniversary of the arrival of Christopher Columbus was marked by the announcement of the replacement of his statue on the Paseo de la Reforma, in Mexico City, by that of "The young woman from Amajac", in honor of indigenous women.
The capital authorities removed the image of Colón last year, days before a demonstration that intended to tear it down, and today they explained that the new piece will be about 6 meters high and "a lot of historical, cultural and political significance", according to the mayor, Claudia Sheinbaum.
Since 2020, the tributes in squares and parks to the explorer Christopher Columbus and other symbols of the Spanish conquest have been vandalized in different American cities as a sign of discontent.
Such is the case of Guatemala City, where this Tuesday a mob painted and damaged some monuments, including that of Columbus himself, to whom they tied a rope but failed to tear down.
However, the protesters did take the head off the sculpture of General José María Reina Barrios, who presided over Guatemala from 1892 to 1898, and who is attributed accelerated inequality and dictatorial overtones in the Central American nation.
Likewise, members of the Ecuadorian Police had to deploy around the Isabel la Católica monument in Quito, which was surrounded by metal fences to prevent an assault like the one that occurred in 2020, when they threw eggs and paint at it, and tried to throw it to the ground. with a rope.
The attack on the sculptures alluding to this date began on Monday in the Bahamas, where the authorities presented charges against a man who damaged the one of Colón, located in front of the official residence of the governor in Nassau.
The Police explained that the detainee, who was in possession of a bulletproof vest, used a mallet to remove the right arm of the statue of the navigator, in addition to hitting the legs and the area of the base.
The event revived the debate about Columbus’s role in the discovery of the Caribbean.
In fact, the ambassador of the Caribbean territory of Antigua and Barbuda to the Organization of American States (OAS), Ronald Sanders, asked last week to end the celebration of the meeting of the two worlds that represents Hispanic Day.
In his opinion, "the original peoples of these lands did not need to be discovered because they already had a civilization, a rich culture and a knowledge that was adapted to sustainability", a speech with which the Mayan cultural manager Andrea Ixchíu agrees, for whom, despite everything lived, the dreams of the indigenous people of America "they have not been able to colonize them".