Some 150 Vox party supporters gathered on Saturday to protect the statue of Christopher Columbus in Barcelona.
Vox called on patriots to defend “the culture from attacks by vandals on the extreme left”, after parties like En Comú Podem and the CUP considered taking the statue down.
“In the face of their hatred, we have love for what is ours,” the party said in a tweet. Europa Press reported on the event at which Vox Barcelona’s deputy secretary for institutional relations, Juan Carlos Segura, spoke.
“Before the statue of Columbus falls, the Government of [Ada] Colau and the Socialists will fall,” said the deputy secretary, who has said when Columbus conquered America on behalf of Catholic monarchs, he gave indigenous peoples the same rights as the Spanish had.
Various left-wing and anti-fascists groups called for a mobilization against Vox and around 200 protested, according to the police, the Mossos d’Esquadra.
The Vox group, called “The neighborhood resists” stopped perpetrators who had tried to set fire to the monument. The emergency services arrived before the fire caused major damage. Several vehicles of the police cleared the area without injuries while they put out the flames.
Leftists shouted slogans like “Racist colonies”, “Death to Spain”, “Racismo”, “Racist Catalunya” and “Fire to Columbus”. Vox organised this action to defend Spain’s history, to defend Spain and to defend Hispanic culture, the party said.
Police initially prevented anti-fascist counter-protesters but a small group of LGBTQ activists reached the monument after the demo was over. “To me, Columbus monument represents white supremacy, so far it is a [white supremacy] symbol. They even have it in Spanish passports,” one LGBTQ protester said.
“Precisely for this reason they want to take away this statue of Columbus, because Columbus represents our history. It represents Spain, and it represents Hispanic culture,” said Segura.
“We believe in projects of love. Patriotism is a project of love, but for the collective, for the community and for history. It is the extension of the love you will give to your father and mother.
“Because of that we are patriots, and the progressives, the separatists, and the left, what they have is hate and hatred of themselves, hate for the Spanish language which has given us so much, because living in community is the best thing that could have happened to us, and the project of Hispanic culture, was a project of love and brotherhood a project of risk that a few brave men undertook backed by a daring kingdom, and with the desire to extend their language, their faith, and their civilization.
“Because of this, in Latin America, the Americans had the same rights as Spaniards, and because of that, we are pioneers in human rights. We are proud of our history, and we will not permit them to tear down the statue of Columbus,” Segura concluded.
Not only Columbus, but statues of other important Hispanic figures like Don Quijote author Miguel de Cervantes and the explorer Juan Ponce de León were also targeted and toppled during the race riots that swept across America.
The Spanish Royal Academy of History issued an angry statement noting that the attacks were “not just against the memory of famous people,” but also against the history of Spain due to “lack of knowledge”.
“Only an anachronistic and decontextualized interpretation of historical events could explain the unjustified attacks against these monuments,” stated the release.
At the beginning of the month, thousands marched in a BLM protest in Madrid, shouting “Madrid will be the tomb of racism!” echoing the Spanish Civil War slogan against fascism. “No human being is illegal,” and “The anti-fascists are here,” were among the most popular chants. Because “the immigration law kills people every day” the marchers shouted “CIEs no,” the latter in reference to the country’s migrant holding centers.
A Student Union leader told the crowd: “We are here to unite with the brothers and sisters from the United States, to point out the racists: Donald Trump. Santiago Abascal.” Abascal is the leader of Spain’s anti-immigration Vox party, which has held a number of protests in Colón square in the past.
But Vox party leader Santi Abascal commented on Twitter: “The multiculturalist policies of the elites and their lackeys on the left are turning the working class neighborhoods of Spain into authentic ghettos where the police are no longer able to maintain control.”
The migrant situation in the Canary Islands has meanwhile become critical. “We’re overwhelmed,” said an evangelical minister who runs the Modern Christian Mission NGO.
The migration route to the islands, an archipelago located off the coast of northwestern Africa, once again became popular the end of last year. During the first six months of this year, arrivals compared to 2019 have increased sixfold.
Last week, Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha González Laya, contradicted herself by saying Spain “shares a lot with this [BlackLivesMatter] movement,” but then she condemned the attacks on statues of Spanish figures.
She confirmed to Spanish daily El Paìs that diplomatic letters have been sent to the US. According to sources, the Spanish ambassador to the US has approached “federal, state and local authorities,” on the issue.
“We have made them aware of the importance we award to this shared history with the United States, as shared as it is unknown,” said González Laya at a press conference last week. The letters are not formal complaints however.
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