During demonstrations against Columbus Day in Guatemala, protesters tried to overturn a statue in honor of the discoverer. Around a thousand people took part in a protest march through a rich district in the south of the capital yesterday. A statue of the former Guatemalan President Jose Maria Reyna, who ruled at the end of the 19th century, was also damaged.
At the head of the protest march, participants carried a poster that read “12. October, Day of Dignity and Indigenous, Black and Popular Resistance ”. In many countries on the American continent, Columbus Day is celebrated on October 12th, on the occasion of the arrival of the navigator Christopher Columbus in America in 1492. In Guatemala the holiday is officially called “Hispanic Day”. Indigenous groups reject this designation.
Video footage posted online shows how the demonstrators stretch a rope to bring down the equestrian statue of former President Reyna. The statue actually goes down and is beheaded. However, this does not work with a bronze statue of Columbus on a globe.
Columbus stands for colonization
In recent years, Columbus statues have been repeatedly damaged in demonstrations against Remembrance Day in many countries. For many, the seafarer is symbolic of the violent colonization and conquest of the continent.
“We are marching to say that on October 12th we have nothing to celebrate that has to do with the conquest, but that we are demanding rights,” wrote a protester on the online networks. “This day, which is so sadly celebrated, is the day of the invasion, it bears witness to expropriation, theft and multiple acts of violence.”
With around 42 percent of its 17 million inhabitants, Guatemala has the largest indigenous population in Central America.