June 17 2014

Argentine Government Dismantled Christopher Columbus Statue in Buenos Aires

Many say it’s an ideological move, directed towards a reinterpretation of the history of the colonization of the Americas, while others say it’s just a necessary process for the restoration of a monument that is at risk of collapsing. The only thing that is certain regarding historical monuments is that politics is always a factor.

In a new confrontation between the Argentine government and the Government of the City of Buenos Aires, represented by political rivals, the fate of the monument is a matter of contention.

The controversy started after the national government decided that the statue, which was located behind the Presidential Palace, and slated to be dismantled – supposedly for restoration purposes – was going to be moved to the city of Mar del Plata. In its place, it was to be replaced with a statue of Juana Azurduy, a well-known symbol of Argentinean independence.

Statue of Columbus being dismanteled, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Historic preservation has become enmeshed in a situation it shouldn’t get involved in. The conservation of buildings and landmarks must be addressed as a technical matter that is concerned with the well-being of symbols that represent the past of a nation or a people. It is clear, however, that when it comes to symbolism, technocratic views always lose.

The statement coming from the national government is that the city government “does not take care of landmarks or architectureand stated that the sole intention behind the move is to repair the statue. Furthermore, they claim the move will take it to a place “as worthy as it is now,” arguing that “there are no first or second class citizens or cities.”

Statue of Columbus on the ground, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Whatever your position on this issue, whether you believe Christopher Columbus was a discoverer or the first perpetrator of genocide in the American continent; it really shouldn’t matter when you address preservation.

Statue of Columbus, dismantled, Buenos Aires, Argentina

At the end, the relocation of the statue was halted by a federal administrative judge, who listened to an appeal filed by the civil association Basta de Demoler (Stop Demolishing). The judge ordered the national authorities to avoid “any act involving dismantling and removal” of the monument.

Last year however, the statue was indeed dismantled and now its pieces rest without a certain destination on the same square the statue was previously erected on.

Do you think that politics can be excluded from historic preservation? Is there a way to really protect symbolic monuments, however controversial, from being destroyed?

Credits: Images by DyN. Data linked to sources.

Luis Lozano-Paredes

Luis Lozano-Paredes is currently a student seeking a Diploma of Architecture and Urban Planning at Belgrano University in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Born in Colombia in 1987, he grew between the cities of Bogotá and Santiago de Cali, and then moved to Argentina in 2006. There, he finished the Common Basic Cycle of Architecture, Design, and Urbanism at the University of Buenos Aires before pursuing studies in Landscape Design at the same Institution. Inspired by the Urban Transformation of Bogotá in the past decades, his interests evolved from Landscape Architecture to his current passion; Urban Planning, Policy Making, and Sustainable Development. He plans to continue his studies in Urban Planning and Sustainability in Canada, Chile, or the U.S.; but for the moment he currently works as a Graduate Research Assistant at the Center of Metropolitan Transport Studies of the University of Buenos Aires and is a Member of the Observatory of Urban Sustainability at Belgrano University. Luis’ main interests lay within the study of Smart Cities, Urban Sustainable Development, and Social Architecture in Latin America.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, June 17th, 2014 at 9:12 am and is filed under Government/Politics, History/Preservation, Luis Lozano-Paredes. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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