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“Consagrado a la memoria”





Sebastián de Belalcázar, Cristóbal Colón, Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada and Simón Bolivar are known as foundation fathers in the history of my country, colonizers and even heroes. In 1492, America was “discovered” by Colombus. In 1538, Jiménez de Quesada established Bogotá. In 1536, Belalcázar created Cali, and in 1537, Popayán. At least, this is the way history was told to me, the one I learned in school. It is as if nothing else were there before Spanish conquered the land and shaped these cities.


Colombian governments decided to erect monuments that honored these names. Bronze from cannons fired in the Spanish War of Independence from France were used to make a statue of Jiménez de Quesada, which was given to Bogotá after 422 years since its formation by the Spanish. Spanish sculptor, Victorino Macho, was commissioned to make a statue of Belalcázar to commemorate 400 years of his establishment of Cali and Popayán. An Italian sculptor was commissioned to make a monument of Colombus that was ultimately erected at the entrance of the city. Its placement cemented Columbus’ legacy as a heroic explorer four centuries after. In 1906, the journalist, Eduardo Posada, documented this moment, “Colombus monument will remain there, as a custodian of race, history and jurisdiction”.


Today statues of conquerors, explorers, and leaders of the Nueva Granada’s independence movement are gone, but the enduring pedestals still contain the symbolic meaning of settler colonialism behind their images.


Topographic map  Bogota 1848.
Image taken from Cartography collection of Biblioteca del Banco de la República, Colombia

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