Mexican Indians protesting conquistador monument

A city in southern Mexico has agreed to consider a petition by Mayan Indians to remove a recently installed monument to the Spanish conquistadores who led the bloody conquest of the region in the 1500s.

Over 100 Mayan groups and individuals from the Yucatan and other Mexican states signed the petition asking that the monument to Francisco de Montejo and his son be removed from a boulevard in Merida, Yucatan’s state capital, which was installed in June.

Between 1528 and 1546, Montejo and his son led bloody battles killing Mayas by the thousands and suppressing Mayan culture. The Maya continued to resist, but their lands were largely taken and many were forced to labor on plantations owned by the descendants of the conquerors.

“This represents an insult for the Maya nation,” Artemio Kaamal of the Maya civic group Kuxa’an’on (“We are Alive” in Maya). “This injures the identity and roots of the Mayan people.”

Merida cultural affairs director Roger Metri Duarte said the city council should take up the issue next week, but the issue remains a sensitive one in a city where most residents are a mix of Spanish and Indian blood, along with later waves of immigration.

Historian Juan Peon Ancona said the monument “breaks a historical taboo against erecting monuments to those who came and conquered us,” he said in a video of the ceremony posted on YouTube. He also said the Montejos “gave us the Spanish language and the Catholic faith,” and were deserving of the honor.

Mexicans have traditionally spurned attempts to praise the conquistadores, and there are hardly any monuments to them in the entire country.

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