Mexico City activists are celebrate a hard-fought victory after the city’s acting mayor, Martí Batres, announced late last month that authorities would not remove a feminist guerrilla artwork from the capital’s main boulevard. The ‘anti-monument’, as it is called, honors the country’s victims femicide and disappearance and replaced a Monument of Christopher Columbus which was dismantled in 2020. In the years since, city officials have come up with alternative statuary options, some of which have since been criticized and renounced by members of the indigenous community.
After the monument to the Italian colonizer was removed from a roundabout on Paseo de la Reforma, a thoroughfare that runs directly through downtown, feminist organizers across the country — many of them indigenous — reclaimed the space as a site of resistance and ongoing protest. On September 21, 2021, activists took over the roundabout to install a figure of justice on the central pedestal – a purple metal figure of a woman with her left fist raised – and dubbed the area “La Glorieta de las Mujeres than Luchan”. meaning “The roundabout of fighting women”.
The roundabout has become the epicenter of multiple protests across the country, including demonstrations by the left-wing Zapatista-led movement for indigenous autonomy in Chiapas; call to the release five political prisoners from Eloxochitlán de Flores Magón in Oaxaca; and demands for an end to systemic violence against Central American migrants and the country’s indigenous communities, who represent more than 15% of the total population of Mexico.
At a press conference on Monday June 26, the roundabout was noisy with cheers and the sounds of mariachi music as activists celebrated the news that Batres, who recently took office following the resignation of former mayor of the city Claudia Sheinbaum to compete for the presidency of the country, had confirmed the city »wouldn’t touchthe roundabout, which has since been covered with thousands of names of missing and murdered women and protest posters.
“After an intense long battlewe have succeeded in making dignity prevail, ”reads a Press release shared organizers. “They gave us nothing, they don’t give us anything, and we have nothing to thank them for, because it was the resistance of all the women who came here…that sustained this space.”
In September 2021, Sheinbaum said the city would commission contemporary Mexican artist Pedro Reyes to sculpt a bust of olmec woman for the roundabout, which resulted in critical artists, writers and curators who argued that “a male artist who does not identify as Indigenous” should not be in charge of design. The controversy forced the city to reverse its appointment and explore alternative options.
Then, in October 2022, Sheinbaum announced that a replica of an ambiguous statue discovered in Veracruz along the country’s Gulf Coast in January 2022 would officially replace the old Columbus monument. Known as ‘La Joven de Amajac’, meaning ‘Young Woman of Amajac’, the replica artefact was quickly dismissed by activists, who criticized its portrayal of a pre-war ruling class. conquest and its lack of connection with the indigenous communities of the country.
Activists were ready to continue defending La Glorieta and were not anticipating Batres’ announcement, organizer Teresa Villalobos said. Hyperallergic by email. Just hours before the acting mayor confirms local journalists that the city would not disrupt the site, Villalobos said protesters were on high alert on the evening of the night of June 21, when government trucks and workers stopped at the roundabout.
“We hesitated because the government has been very strict in its insistence that ‘La Joven de Amajac’ and La Glorieta de las Mujeres that Luchan share spaceVillalobos explained, adding that it wasn’t until the next day that the mayor agreed to leave the “anti-monument” alone. Rather than place the replica of “La Joven de Amajac” in the center of the roundabout, the municipal authorities decided to place it in a space close to the site, a decision which drew mixed reviews among the organizers.
“For some of us it is a triumph that ‘La Joven de Amajac’ is not placed in the roundabout because the head of government has failed to impose himself on the space. If the government entered, it would be like colonizing the site again,” Villalobos explained to Hyperallergic. “For others, it is a sign of stubbornness on the part of the presidential candidate, who could have found a better place [for the sculpture] rather than insisting that it be like some sort of shadow.
In addition to their aforementioned longstanding list of demands, organizers are now asking the city to recognize the site with changed names for nearby bus stops and street signs – some of which still bear the name of the old statue of Columbus.
“We want justice, and we will take advantage of the space to achieve it,” Villalobos said.