Story at a glance
- In addition to Confederate statues and monuments, protesters have targeted symbols of European colonization.
- In Spain, some are upset at the removal of statues of Spanish colonizers in the United States.
- One group has offered to take these statues to move them to Spain.
After striking out in Portugal, France and England, Christopher Columbus finally got backing from the Spanish royal court to explore the Americas, opening the door to its colonization. What followed was history, and led to the enslavement and killings of the Indigenous people across the continent.
So as statues of Confederate figures fell across the United States in the weeks after George Floyd’s death and the ensuing protests, statues of Columbus and other colonizers soon followed. But while Indigenous activists in the United States cheered the removal, across the ocean, Spain's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has reportedly expressed its concerns.
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El País, a Spanish-language daily newspaper in Spain, reported that Foreign Minister Arancha González Laya has sent diplomatic letters to “federal, state and local authorities" in the United States to address the issue, although these are not formal complaints.
“We have made them aware of the importance we award to this shared history with the United States, as shared as it is unknown,” said González Laya at a press conference, according to El País.
After California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the removal of statues of Queen Isabella and Christopher Columbus from the state capitol in Sacramento, a group of residents from Talavera de la Reina, Spain, wrote a letter asking for the statue, committing to covering all shipping costs.
“We’re not ashamed of our history,” wrote the Neighbours Association of Fray Hernando de la Talavera, named after a confessor of Queen Isabella, in a letter posted to Facebook. “We’re aware that mistakes were made, but we also know how unfair it is to judge the past from the point of view of today’s society.”
The movement isn’t limited to within the United States, however, as some left-wing politicians and protesters in Spain have called for the removal of statues of Columbus in their own country. But when asked about their demands, Spain’s education minister Isabel Celaa told reporters, “Cities have history and moments which must be respected and learned from,” according to Reuters.
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