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.
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.
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 architecture" and 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.”
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.
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.