Mexico joins the long list of countries gripped in a post-colonial reckoning with problematic historical figures as its capital city puts plans in motion to replace a long-standing monument to Christopher Columbus. Previously located on one of Mexico City’s main thoroughfares, Paseo de la Reforma, the 19th-century bronze statue of the controversial explorer was removed by city officials last October for scheduled restoration. Its pedestal has remained empty since then, and now it seems that the Columbus statue will never return to its privileged perch.
On September 5, the International Day of Indigenous Women, Mexico City’s Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum Pardo announced that the Columbus statue would be replaced by a monument to Indigenous women. “We owe it to them. We exist because of them,” she remarked at an event marking the occasion. “It is the history of our country and our homeland.”
The city has commissioned Mexican artist Pedro Reyes to create the new sculpture, which will purportedly depict an Olmec woman and will be called “Tlalli” (meaning “earth” in the Nahuatl language). Some of the oldest inhabitants of Mesoamerica, the Olmecs formed the earliest known major civilization in what is now modern-day Mexico. “It’s very important to dedicate a monument to Indigenous women and to the Earth,” Reyes said of the commission, “because if anyone can teach us how to take care of this planet, it’s our native peoples, and that is precisely what we must learn again.”
The new monument is expected to be complete by October 12, which is Columbus Day—or as it is recognized in Mexico, Dia de la Raza. Meanwhile, the Christopher Columbus statue will be moved to a less prominent resting place, located in a small park in the city’s Polanco neighborhood.
Mexico City announced plans to replace a controversial Christopher Columbus statue with a monument to Indigenous women by Mexican artist Pedro Reyes.
The statue's pedestal has remained empty since it was removed for scheduled restoration last October. The new monument will be completed this October.