Activists take aim at conquistador statues in New Mexico

New Mexico

FILE – In this file photo dated Wednesday, June 10, 2020, a damaged Christopher Columbus statue stands in a waterfront park near the city’s traditionally Italian North End neighborhood, in Boston, USA., after the statue was found beheaded Wednesday morning. Statues of the 15th-century explorer and the Spanish conquistadors who followed him and colonized much of the Americas have not become targets for demonstrators in Spain and USA. The death of George Floyd at the hands of police and Minneapolis, USA, has sparked a re-examination of injustices and inequalities in the fabric of many societies, often symbolized in statues of historical figures have become the focus of protest around the world. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, FILE)

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Two public statues of conquistador Juan de Oñate in New Mexico are drawing renewed attention and criticism as memorials erected in honor of Confederate leaders and other historical figures worldwide become a focus of protests.

More than 1,500 people have signed a petition calling for the removal of an Oñate statue on the outskirts of Española in northern New Mexico.

Activists are calling on Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller to remove another Oñate likeness from a caravan of colonists set in bronze outside a city museum.

Oñate arrived in present-day New Mexico in 1598. He is celebrated as a cultural father figure but also reviled for his brutality.

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