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Columbus Day sparks protests in Latin America - Reuters

Reuters ()
October 14, 1998

Title: Columbus Day sparks protests in Latin America
Author: Reuters
Publication: Reuters
Date: October 14, 1998

Indians in Honduras symbolically executed Christopher Columbus
on Monday while demonstrators stripped named in Mexico, staked a
claim to ancestral lands in Paraguay and marched in protest
elsewhere in Latin America on Columbus Day.

Five hundred and six years after the Italian explorer
iscovered America on behalf of the Spanish crown, Columbus
was vilified as having brought genocide to a people he
mistakenly called Indians because he thought he had sailed to

A mock trial in Honduras condemned Columbus to death for mass
murder. A plywood image of Columbus -- known as Cristobal Colon
in Spanish -- was skewered with arrows fired by indigenous

e of the jury are demanding Spain pay indemnification to the
indigenous people of Honduras, U.S. citizen Nancy Jodaitis told
about 1,000 protesters. e are asking for reparation, that
Spain publicly apologize for the genocide it caused.

While Columbus is generally remembered in the United States and
Europe as a heroic explorer, in Latin America his first voyage
in 1492 is lamented for introducing the Spanish conquest,
slavery and the demise of great civilizations.

Through disease and warfare, indigenous populations plummeted in
Latin America. The Spanish conquerors also tried to demolish
vestiges of the existing cultures. The same could be said for
Brazil, colonized by the Portuguese.

Spain's ambassador to Honduras, Manuel Gomez Mujica, brushed
aside calls for reparations, saying, think history has been
made and cannot be changed. What we should do is profoundly
analyze what happened and learn for the future.

In Mexico City poet Jose Chavez stripped naked at a monument to
Columbus on the capital's main boulevard, while sympathizers of
the pro-Indian Zapatista guerrilla movement demonstrated in
Mexico's southernmost state of Chiapas.

ee been colonized for 500 years. Today is a time for poets,
Chavez told reporters upon climbing the monument wearing only a
hat and socks. He was not arrested.

An estimated 3,000 people marched in downtown Mexico City. In
Chiapas, the largely Indian state on Mexico's southern border
where Zapatistas launched an armed uprising nearly five years
ago, about 1,500 people marched in the city of Ocosingo some 500
miles (800 km) southeast of Mexico City.

In Paraguay, about 2,000 Indians from four ethnic groups marched
in the capital Asuncion to demand a return of ancestral lands.
Paraguay has one of the most uneven distributions of land in
South America.

ur most serious problem is food, protest leader Carlos Mareco
told reporters. very day there are fewer wild animals because
of environmental degradation.

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