Argentine news is abuzz with rumors that President Mauricio Macri may have agreed to replace the iconic statue of Juana Azurduy, independence hero of indigenous decent, with one of Cristopher Columbus, who needs no introduction and last year was removed from his perch in the park behind the Casa Rosada to make room for our girl Juana. These rumors stem from the Italian press and come on the heels of Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s visit to Buenos Aires.
Major Argentine outlets have picked up the story as a viable possibility, to which we say Shut. The. Front. Door. File it under things that are not acceptable.
Sources out of Casa Rosada are claiming that we can all breathe a sigh of relief, as, “It is not true. There is no possibility of a promise to reinstate the statue of Columbus.” From the mouth of politicians, amirite?
Here’s a brief history: in 1921, long before Columbus’s genocidal history had caught up with him and he still very much enjoyed hero status, the Italians gifted the Argentines a statue of the Genoese explorer. He enjoyed prime real estate by the Casa Rosada until the statue was taken down in 2013 by former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and replaced by the Azurduy likeness, a gift from Bolivian President Evo Morales. Macri, then mayor of the City of Buenos Aires, was stridently opposed to the switch, and his City government and the national government fought bitterly in court over the Cristina’s decision to remove the monument. But you can guess who won, and Chris now sits in a corner in the Costanera.
Prime Minister Renzi is the first Italian official to visit our shores in 18 years. He landed yesterday and dove into a full agenda calling it “open a new era in relations between the two countries.”
Let us hope that unlike the promises from Ben and Jen that they would never break up, this one claiming no harm will come to Juana is true. The rumor mill claimed that it would be discussed over lunch today at the Casa Rosada, so pray to your empanada gods that there’s no statue switch up.