It’s Time to Take Down Statues of Conquistadors

Wikimedia Creative Commons

It was a matter of time before this was suggested. What do you think?

In 2006, the city of El Paso financed the construction of a 36-foot statue of the infamous Spanish conquistador Don Juan de Oñate riding his horse into battle. For some reason, this bustling city on the US-Mexico border with an 80 percent Mexican American demographic was intent on erecting a conquistador statue, a monument to a European who attempted to conquer, Christianize, and loot the Americas.

As a 16-year-old, I largely missed the statue’s political implications. I was more taken aback by the horse’s jarring anatomically correct under-parts. But my mother—the daughter of an exiled Spanish flamenco dancer—was quite outraged when they placed the monument at the entrance of the El Paso International Airport.

 “Qué asco!” I remember her hissing, “How could anyone dedicate a statue to a monster who cut off people’s feet! It’s—it’s just so fascist!”

At the time, my mother was tuned into the loud opposition presented by Acoma Pueblo like Maurus Chino and local Chicanx activists, who were pointing to the gruesome truth of Juan de Oñate’s life. In the days that Oñate marched into what is now northern New Mexico, it would have been hard to consider him anything less than a butcher. He is responsible for the unprecedented massacre of the Acoma Pueblo in 1599, for cutting off the feet of male survivors, and for selling the Acoma Pueblo’s remaining women and children into slavery. The guy was so bad, he was even put on trial for excessive cruelty by the Spanish colonial government—an institution with fairly low standards in the 16th century.

Yet El Paso’s statue of Don Juan de Oñate is not an isolated problem.

READ MORE

Subscribe today!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Must Read

New Mexico Native James Borrego to Become First Latino Full-time NBA Head Coach

Victor Landa May 9, 2018

Spurs assistant coach James Borrego not only landed his first full-time head-coaching job on Tuesday, he made NBA history. The AP is reporting that Charlotte owner Michael Jordan has completed a […]

How One Woman Is Fighting To Get More Latino Movie Roles

Victor Landa

When casting director Carla Hool moved to Los Angeles from Mexico City in 2011, she found stereotypical Latino movie roles written without much depth: “The gardener, the immigrant who crossed the […]

Border congressman among highest funded by group running immigrant detention centers

Victor Landa June 22, 2018

U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, has received $32,400 in political contributions from a company that operates immigrant detention centers — the second most of any elected official in the country […]

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED on massive scale to help reunite immigrant children with their families

Victor Landa July 9, 2018

This is an opportunity for experts on Latin America to get involved and lend their expertise. Please also share widely: URGENT HELP NEEDED ASAP!! Center for Human Rights and Constitutional […]

5 Women Who Are Mobilizing The Latino Community For The Midterm Elections

Victor Landa May 24, 2018

The midterm elections this year are a pivotal time for activation, regardless of what side of the aisle you stand on. The Latino vote particularly is being mobilized by some […]

Latinos And Others Find Trump Tweets Not Unusual

Victor Landa April 23, 2018

NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro talks to Pilar Marrero, a writer at the Spanish language daily La Opinion in Los Angeles, about President Trump tweets attacking California’s sanctuary laws. LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST: This past […]

When Your 12-Year-Old Son Faces Little League Racism

Victor Landa April 30, 2018

As parents, we walk a fine line between solving our children’s problems and letting them struggle on their own, like when they’re faced with little league racism. My 12-year-old plays […]

Will The Latino Vote Tip Elections THIS Year?

Victor Landa May 29, 2018

In more than 20 years of Hispanic marketing, I’ve heard this line over and over: The Latino vote could tip the elections this year. It’s true the Latino vote has […]