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Statue of Indigenous woman will replace Mexico City’s Columbus statue

The governor of Mexico City has confirmed that a statue of an Indigenous woman will replace the capital’s Christopher Columbus monument.

Claudia Sheinbaum, Mexico City’s governor, announced that the statue will finally be replaced after years of requests.

The Columbus statue, which was erected on Mexico City’s most prominent boulevard in 1877, was removed last year after indigenous rights activists threatened to tear it down. 

Image: AP Photo/Fernando Llano

Before its removal, protesters frequently graffitied the Columbus statue to protest against the brutal treatment of indigenous people.

Sheinbaum said the site will be replaced by a replica three times the size of the original pre-Columbian statue known as the Young Woman of Amajac

The replacement was announced on 12 October, 528 years to the day after Columbus discovered the Americas.

October 12 is widely celebrated as Columbus Day in the US, but in Mexico and other Latin American countries, it’s referred to as Día de la Raza (Day of the Race) and is viewed as a day to commemorate native resistance against European conquest.

Sheinbaum added that the new monument will recognise how “indigenous women had been the most persecuted” during and after the colonial period. 

The statue is pre-Hispanic in style with an open-eyed stare, although it’s likely coloured stones were originally inserted in her eye sockets but have been lost over time.

While no one is really sure what the sculpture represents, it’s believed it may depict a leading female member, a member of the elite, or part of the governing class of the Huastec people at the time of its creation. Other theories believe it may be a fertility goddess of the Huastec culture.

The original Young Woman of Amajac statue currently sits in Mexico City’s Anthropology Museum.