More than 500 years after his death, the figure of the sailor Christopher Columbus It is still current, sometimes in the pillory, in the United States. The statue of the Genoese in Central Park, in New York City, was included yesterday, Thursday, in the US list of historical places, after the controversy that arose in January, when several personalities and civil groups called for its withdrawal as a " symbol of hatred "and" racist ".
The decision of the governor of the State of New York, Andrew M. Cuomo, comes after the controversy that caused the withdrawal of another statue of Columbus of the main park of Los Angeles, on November 10, with the argument that the admiral, who arrived in America in 1492, It was "a genocide" of the indigenous tribes, in a campaign led by Councilman Mitch O'Farrell against the symbols of the Spanish conquest. That fact motivated this newspaper to ask a dozen historians, Spaniards and Americans, if Columbus can really be considered a genocide. Almost all refuted that adjective, although they disagreed about his performance as governor of the West Indies. The other conclusion is that the Spanish protagonism in the arrival, conquest and colonization of America It is very unknown in the United States.
On the other coast of the country, however, the official vision of the navigator is more benevolent. "The Columbus monument is venerated by the Italian-American community in New York and is a tribute to the ways in which our State has welcomed immigrants from all over the world," Governor Cuomo said in a statement. The statue, erected in 1892, was commissioned by Carlo Barsotti, editor of the newspaper Il Progreso, the first newspaper in the Italian language in the United States, and was made by the Italian sculptor Gaetano Russo. Funding was provided by Italian-American entrepreneurs.
The process for the inclusion of the monument in the registry of historical places accelerated on September 20. The Office for Historic Preservation of the State of New York moved the proposal to the National Register of Historic Places, which included the statue in its directory on November 20.
The statement explains that the statue has a historical value as an "example of public art" and for "the representation of the ethnic and social history" of the country. Cuomo, of Italian origin, made no reference to Christopher Columbus as discoverer of America, but showed it as an "image" used at the end of the 19th century by "Italian immigrants who suffered great prejudice and hostility" to "create an identity ethnic "with the aim of overcoming these prejudices and achieve assimilation.
When controversy arose at the beginning of the New York statue, the mayor, Bill de Blasio, also of Italian descent, distanced himself from the matter, which motivated him not to be invited by the organizers of the traditional Columbus Day parade. the Bronx. "A fake Italian", came to call some of the organizers of this party that is held on the second Monday in October.