With the global spread protests advocating racial and social justice, it is no surprise therefore that indigenous protesters in Colombia have toppled a statue of Spanish conquistador Sebastián de Belalcázar in the south-western city of Popayán. Police looked on as members of the Misak community used ropes to tear down the equestrian figure of de Belalcázar, who founded the city in 1537. Indigenous leaders said he represented five centuries of genocide and slavery. Popayán’s mayor said it was an act of violence against a symbol of a multicultural city.
De Belalcázar led numerous expeditions in north-western parts of South America, founding also what is now Ecuador’s capital Quito. Protesters across America toppled statues associated with slavery. The Misak community blames the conquistador for the killings of their ancestors and land grabbing. The toppling of statues associated with slavery and colonialism has been a prominent feature of the Black Lives Matter protests in the US and Europe.