As part of two months of mobilisations in the streets of Colombia, the demonstrators repeated the form of protest that became a global wave last year: this Monday (28), they toppled a statue of Christopher Columbus located in the town of Barranquilla, north of the parents.
According to the newspaper El Espectador, the monument, placed in front of the Church of Our Lady of Carmen, was donated in 1892 by an Italian colony. Since the beginning of the acts, the indigenous peoples of the country have already canceled the tributes to the Spanish colonizers Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada and Sebastián de Belalcázar.
This is not the first time that a statue of Columbus, presented as the first European to reach America, has been demolished. A year ago, in June 2020, two Genoese monuments were destroyed in the United States, one in Richmond and the other in Boston, and two more were removed by Chicago City Hall amid anti-racism protests. which followed the assassination of the former. security guard George Floyd black.
It is indeed this wave of demonstrations that led to the overthrow of statues honoring figures linked to the colonial past and slavery. The movement also reached Europe, where images of racist figures were taken at the initiative of local authorities in London and Antwerp.
In October, Bolivian activists bathed a statue of Columbus in the country’s capital, La Paz, in red paint, as a metaphor for the bloodbath that signified the Spanish conquest of the Americas.
Colombo’s fall in Barranquilla on Monday was accompanied by protests in other Colombian cities, such as the capital Bogotá, as well as in Medellín, Pereira and Cartagena. Police say buses have been attacked by protesters, who in turn accuse police of abusing force.
About two weeks ago, the National Strike Committee announced the temporary suspension of protests until July 20, Colombia’s Independence Day, but actions were already expected to continue to continue. ‘be perpetrated.
Colombians have continued their daily protests since April 28. The uprising grew out of discontent over a tax reform proposal by President Iván Duque who, among other things, increased the tax on goods and services and broadened the tax base.
Duque backed down, deleted the agenda and reworded the proposal, which will now focus on the temporary taxation of the wealthiest businesses and classes. The violent crackdown on the acts, however, fueled discontent over the country’s structural problems, such as social inequalities, and protests continued.
More than 60 people have already been killed during the protests, according to local authorities. Just last week, two men were killed in less than 48 hours in protests that included clashes with police. Human Rights Watch accuses police of being involved in at least 20 killings; 16 of the victims were said to have been shot with intent to kill. The NGO report also describes cases in which agents sexually assaulted protesters.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights was in the country in early June to investigate allegations, leading the government to pledge to investigate 21 killings that took place during the protests. The United Nations, the United States and the European Union have also denounced the excesses committed by the public forces.
Duque says groups linked to drug trafficking and the National Liberation Army (ELN), the last recognized guerrilla warfare in the country, camouflaged themselves among the demonstrators to provoke conflict.