Statue of conquistador toppled in Puerto Rico before Spanish king’s visit

“Some individuals approached the statue,” positioned in a sq. within the historic heart of San Juan, and “caused damage,” in keeping with a police report quoted by native media.

The capital’s mayor, Miguel Romero, criticized the incident as an “act of vandalism” in remarks to information outlet El Nuevo Día, however sought to downplay the importance of the incident and the extent of the harm.

Felipe VI arrived hours later and was given a pink carpet welcome. He was visiting Puerto Rico, a US territory, to mark the five hundredth anniversary of San Juan’s founding.

The metropolis’s origins date again to 1521, however the official celebrations had been delayed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Authorities indicated they had been safety digicam footage to assist determine these chargeable for damaging the statue.

Local media reported {that a} group generally known as the Boriken Libertarian Forces has claimed duty.

“Faced with the… visit of the King of Spain, Felipe VI, to Puerto Rico and the escalation of ‘gringo’ invaders taking over our lands, we want to send a clear message: Neither kings nor ‘gringo’ invaders,” the group wrote in an announcement.

Before the statue was reinstalled, Rafael Capo, a 35-year-old historical past instructor, determined to climb the empty pedestal in protest.

For him, there’s a direct hyperlink between the veneration of the Spanish colonial previous, and Puerto Rico’s present political relationship with the United States.

“Five hundred years later, history continues to repeat itself… They keep importing people from outside to get rid of the locals,” he mentioned, referring to present authorities insurance policies that provide tax advantages to foreigners, principally rich Americans.

Police eliminated Capo and different protesters so municipal authorities might reinstall the statue, which they mentioned was not severely broken.

Ponce de León undertook a royal mission in 1508 to discover and colonize the island, which the native Taino inhabitants known as Boriken. He ultimately turned Puerto Rico’s first governor.

Ponce de León is thought for main the primary official European expedition to Florida and serving as the primary governor of Puerto Rico. Painting: Public Domain/Wikipedia

The statue was cast in 1882 in New York, with bronze obtained from British cannons captured after a failed assault on the Spanish in Puerto Rico in 1797.

Because the United States obtained the island from Spain at conflict, folks born in Puerto Rico are US residents who can transfer to the US mainland in the event that they select.

But as a result of folks born in Puerto Rico shouldn’t have regular voting illustration within the US House of Representatives and Senate, political analysts broadly think about their political standing to be colonial.

They have their very own legislature and a non-voting envoy to the US House.

The similar lack of actual and full voting rights within the US House and Senate can also be confronted by residents of the US federal district, Washington, DC; American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the US Virgin Islands.

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