A thousand people marched Tuesday, October 12 in the capital of Guatemala and tried to throw a statue of Christopher Columbus to the ground, in a sign of rejection of the celebrations of October 12, noted an AFP photographer. Protesters marched down Reforma Avenue, in an affluent neighborhood on the southern outskirts of the capital, a banner displaying “October 12, day of dignity and indigenous, black and popular resistance” leading the way.
During the three-kilometer march to the Old Government Palace in the historic center of Guatemala City, protesters attempted to topple a bronze statue of Christopher Columbus, and damaged a similar statue of the former president Jose Maria Reyna (1891-1898), erected on the busy avenue. “We are marching to say that we have nothing to celebrate this October 12 in relation to the conquest, but rather rights to claim”, wrote anonymously on social media. “This day so sadly commemorated is that of the invasion, it speaks of dispossession, theft and multiple violations”, he added.
The “Day of Dignity and Resistance”
According to video footage posted on social media, participants placed a rope to pull down the equestrian statue of former President Reyna and successfully bent and beheaded it. But they couldn’t do the same with the statue of Christopher Columbus on a sphere representing the world. Statues of the Genoese navigator have been overturned or vandalized in recent years in various countries of America, often by groups accusing him of being responsible for the colonization and conquest of the continent by Europeans.
Guatemala is the country with the largest indigenous population in Central America, at 42% of the 17 million inhabitants. Indigenous peoples reject the name “Hispanic Day”, which commemorates Columbus’ arrival in America on October 12, 1492, and defend “Dignity and Resistance Day”.