Indigenous people from the Misak community demolished a statue of the Spanish conqueror on Wednesday Sebastian de Belalcázar in Popayán, capital of the troubled Colombian department of Cauca (southwest), as a way of “vindicate the memory of murdered and enslaved ancestors by the elites. “
“From Belalcázar it was a genocide who massacred the peoples he conquered. My respect to the Misak who today claim their dead. On the ground a symbol of 500 years of slavery, “said the president of the Indigenous and Social Alternative Movement (Mais), Martha Peralta, on Twitter.
To demolish the statue, located on the top of a hill, a group of indigenous people who were protesting against the violence in the region they tied ropes to the equestrian sculpture.
“It is his way of reclaiming the memory of ancestors murdered and enslaved by the elites. In protest of the crisis,” added Peralta.
Sebastián de Belalcázar, born in 1480 in what is now the Spanish province of Córdoba, was a conqueror who founded Quit on December 6, 1534, as well as the Colombian towns of Cali, Popayán and Belalcázar.
The Movement of Indigenous Authorities of the Colombian Southwest (AISO) argued that De Belalcázar committed crimes such as “genocide, dispossession and land grabbing, physical and cultural disappearance of peoples that they were part of the Pubenences Confederation “, that inhabited the region at the time of the conquest.
According to the agency, these complaints are based on “chronicles, historiographic accounts, reconstructions, files of the dead archive and classified archive of the central archive of Cauca,” among other sources that go from academic texts to “credible histories of oral tradition of our ancestral Misak peoples “.
The Mayor of Popayán indicates that the statue was made by the Spanish artist Victorio Macho and erected in the Morro de Tulcán, the main archaeological site of Popayán, in 1937.
“A symbol of 500 years of humiliation and domination to the original peoples. My respects to the Misak brothers and sisters. As a multiethnic and multicultural State, other symbols should flourish and adorn the libertarian landscape, “said indigenous senator Feliciano Valencia.
What happened in Popayán reminds what happened in recent months in the US, where after the death of the African-American George Floyd at the hands of a white policeman, attacks on monuments of Confederate leaders, founding fathers and explorers linked to the Spanish “conquest” of America multiplied.