Twelve years after the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, Spanish conquistador Don Diego de Vargas marched into Santa Fe on horseback to reclaim the city.

Thursday morning, a statue of a man who is both honored and reviled was hauled away in the back of a flatbed tow truck.

At the direction of Mayor Alan Webber, a crane removed a statue of de Vargas, which had been part of a growing controversy over historical markers and monuments in Santa Fe.

The removal of the statue from Cathedral Park downtown came hours before a planned demonstration over historical monuments and hours after an unsuccessful attempt overnight to remove at least part of the obelisk on the Santa Fe Plaza.

Video taken at Cathedral Park of the removal of the deVargas statue.

The obelisk, a war monument erected more than 150 years ago, had been the focus of a planned protest led by indigenous activists until Webber announced Wednesday he planned to call for its removal, along with the de Vargas statue and another obelisk downtown dedicated to Christopher “Kit” Carson.

City Councilor JoAnne Vigil Coppler accused the mayor of sparking more controversy.

“If the opportunity had been provided to discuss this matter, the decision may have resulted in the same conclusion to remove the statues,” she said Thursday.

“However, the unilateral removal and attempted removal of statues in downtown Santa Fe under the cover of darkness represents a lack of respect for the democratic process in this city,” Vigil Coppler added. “The city’s destruction applied to the obelisk amounts to unabated vandalism. Many believe the city councilors had a say in this, and I can confirm that is not the case. Without opportunity for the public and the City Council to weigh in and explore remedies, the mayor has created another controversy.”

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham also had a role in the decision to attempt to remove the obelisk ahead of the planned protest.

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Workers overnight attempted to remove the obelisk from the Santa Fe Plaza but halted the attempt out of concerns of damaging it. Daniel Chacón/The New Mexican

After the mayor announced his intentions, Lujan Grisham reached out to Webber to offer help from the state.

“The governor dispatched state assistance in the inspection of the” obelisk, city spokeswoman Lilia Chacon wrote in an email, adding “state contractors determined the top of the obelisk was unstable and removed [it and] verified the remaining portions were stable.

But workers who were on the Plaza until about 3 a.m. said they planned to remove the top two tiers of the obelisk but were forced to stop the job because it would’ve damaged or destroyed the monument.

“We can’t do it with this crane,” one of the workers said. “The [monument] is too big. It’s all solid.”

In an interview after a peaceful demonstration on the Plaza in which some speakers reiterated their calls for the removal of the obelisk, Webber said the work on the Plaza in the wee hours of the morning was not an “undertaking” of the city.

“I think the governor recognized that we have a public safety issue and a risk and thought it would perhaps be a way to resolve the issue and simply create the space for a positive conversation,” he said.

Webber said he asked city workers to put the de Vargas statue in “safekeeping.”

“We saw what happened in Albuquerque where things started out peacefully but went badly,” he said, referring to a shooting at a protest over a statue featuring another Spanish conquistador, Juan de Oñate. “My feeling has always been there’s no statue that is worth any human life.”

Former City Councilor Ron Trujillo, who ran unsuccessfully for mayor against Webber, said he reached out to Webber to express his concerns about the removal of the de Vargas statue without public input. He also criticized the botched attempt to remove the obelisk under the cover of night.

“Why now is the governor getting involved in something right here? Yes, she’s the governor of the state, but Santa Fe needs to take care of its problems,” he said while standing at a descanso, or memorial, where the de Vargas statue once stood.

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Trujillo said the surreptitious actions to remove the monuments breed mistrust.

“As much as people want to see it disappear in the middle of the night, it’s not going to happen,” he said, adding the obelisk is on historic property that is a National Historic Landmark and on the State Register of Cultural Properties.

The obelisk has been a long-running source of controversy, mostly over an inscription that says it was dedicated to the “heroes” who died in battle against “savage Indians” when New Mexico was a territory. The word “savage” was chiseled off years ago. In 2017, the word “courageous” was written in but is no longer there.

Around 2 a.m. Thursday, workers removed the tip of the obelisk.

Also missing from the monument is a plaque the city installed decades ago stating “monument texts reflect the character of the times in which they are written and the temper of those who wrote them” and that “attitudes change and prejudices hopefully dissolve.” It’s unclear whether the workers removed it.

The work crew was contracted by the state of New Mexico.

The governor’s communications director, Tripp Stelnicki, said Lujan Grisham contacted the mayor “offering the state’s assistance in getting that obelisk inspected or ultimately potentially removing it, just saying, ‘How can we be helpful and ensuring that this is a safe environment Thursday night?’ ”

Stelnicki said safety played a role in the decision.

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A crew contracted by the state works on the obelisk on the Plaza early Thursday morning.

“Our concern is if people try to take it on themselves to take it down, they might injure somebody because it’s old and it’s top heavy and it’s not as sturdy as you might think,” he said in a telephone interview. “I don’t know how heavy it is, but it’s a lot of concrete, and we’re worried about somebody getting crushed.”

Former City Councilor Frank Montaño, who attended part of Thursday’s demonstration on the Plaza, said he didn’t understand how anyone expected to remove the obelisk from the downtown square.

“That probably was not well thought out,” he said. “I think the intention was certainly a good intention.”

Montaño said the city is dealing with an extremely sensitive issue.

“When I see the speakers up here, I can feel their pain, the Natives and the pain that they are experiencing,” he said, referring to the speakers at Thursday’s rally. “I think that for a lot of Hispanic people, there is also a pain that they are feeling when they see that something that they grew up as understanding to be a good thing is now all of a sudden something that perhaps is evil. All these things need to be talked about. It’s not one way or the other. I mean, there’s reconciliation that needs to be done on both sides.”

The removal of the de Vargas statue touched a nerve among longtime Hispanics, many of whom credit the conquistador with the resettlement of Santa Fe after the Pueblo Revolt of 1680.

061820Protest_40.JPG

Former City Councilor Ron Trujillo, who portrayed Don Diego De Vargas in 1994, sets up a descanso where the statue once stood. Luis Sánchez Saturno/The New Mexican

City Councilor Roman “Tiger” Abeyta, a Santa Fe native, said de Vargas is part of his heritage but doesn’t “define me as a Hispanic trying to live my best life in modern America.”

“A statue of him definitely doesn’t,” he said. “I know that the removal of the statue and monuments makes some local Hispanics angry and heartbroken because they feel like they’ve already lost their neighborhoods, and they are now losing their culture, too.”

Abeyta said he was always taught that his culture is alive in how he thinks, speaks and passes on to his children.

“It’s in the music I listen to, the food I eat and the traditions I celebrate,” he said. “Statues cannot define who we are as a city, but they should tell the world what we value.”

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(70) comments

Larry Fancher

Santa Fe has been referred to as "THE CITY DIFFERENT"...well maybe not so much anymore. By removing these monuments Santa Fe is removing the History of what made Santa Fe and why its architecture, culture and its people are a unique microcosm in our modern world. This is as absurd as it would be to go from this action the tearing down San Miguel Chapel (the oldest church in the USA), Loretto Chapel or St. Francis Cathedral because they are associated with The Catholic Church (which oppressed the Native People). Why not embrace all history, not just that which political correctness has endorsed.

Richard Reinders

In my humble opinion, it's a tragedy that Mayor Webber's "big tent" (his mayoral campaign slogan) did not have the table and the seats for the local citizens of Santa Fe to have voice about his dismantling of our history. Had his "big tent" provided the table and seats for dialogue, understanding, and representation from our valued cultures, our City of Holy Faith could have set a profound moment in history during this very complex time for a decision made in unity. Furthermore, had his "big tent" and those seated at the "big tent" table agreed that removal of the statues was the best decision, it could have been done with honor, respect and ceremony. It could have been a learning moment taught by example and our tri-cultural elders, historians, leaders, and citizens would have had a presence and agreement. Thank you, Eileen Vigil-Reinders

Mark Stahl

It is a good idea to remove the De Vargas statue before it was damaged in protest. It can be kept safe until decision is made about its future. Perhaps we should take a moment to listen to what the peaceful protesters are saying. Those who think New Mexico's, and the United States ', history has been, until recently, a peaceful, harmonious march of progress should look a little harder. Many Americans see a long history of discrimination and oppression, to say the least, and have only seen progress through active protest, often to be met with vicious violence. One can only hope for a future where all Americans can attain the ideals espoused in the American dream.

Stefanie Beninato

Mark. Destruction of public property turns the protest from peaceful to violence. Why didn't the organizers use the democratic process to get the statutes and obelisks removed?

B. Rosen

Good riddance to the statues and monuments to conquistadors! Keep history in the museums, if you want a monument to your favorite historical figure, put it on your own private property! Our Native American brothers and sisters feel offended by these monuments and they really serve no purpose, I never even bothered to look at them. Let’s put some nice art in their place, our town has lots of wonderful artists who could create some non offensive sculptures for our public spaces.

Gretchen Baltuff

This is a question only, not an attack for a challenge. What would the estimated population of Natives Americans be if the Spanish hadn't invaded and brought their diseases and their weapons?

Brad Doubles

Fair question but totally irrelevant because that is not what happened...History is never kind in the eyes of the conquered, forgotten or wronged. But it is still the fact that must be dealt with and no amount of sanitizing will change the factual outcome of historical events. We can learn from them, find a new way forward, forget if you want but it still won't erase what happened....for that, you would need a DeLorean with a flux capacitor😆

Richard Reinders

No Pueblo member would still be here, the Comanche, Navajo and Apache would have wiped them out De Vargas fought those tribes back and saved the Pueblos

Stefanie Beninato

Given any population numbers are estimates and the difference in what indigenous group(s) may have prevailed given Navajo, Apache, Comanche and Ute raids without Spanish interference , your whole question is just assumption and has no relevance today

Brad Doubles

Let me get this straight...A WHITE mayor from out of town, removes a statue that is of historical importance to the majority, Spanish population of Santa Fe so as not to be perceived a racist by the minority native population and psuedo white sympathizers? MAJOR LOGIC GAP

History is there for us to learn from, not to tear down. These same people complaining nowadays were not so happy when the Taliban was destoying centuries old monuments in their country. Major hypocrisy but that is what I would expect from the left.

Now that the staue is gone and others will follow, what impact will that have on the CURRENT problems for all of these victim classes. Especially that overweight native woman who started this whole mess with the Entrada protest. How is this going to change the fact that many in the pueblos and on reservations are still unhealthy, uneducated and unemployed. Those folks need to make changes to their OWN LIVES by THEMSELVES before dictating how the rest of us should live.....

julian espinoza

Dido

Matthew Garcia

This just goes to show the racism towards Hispanic people. There has always been an attempt to erase the Spanish heritage from this city. I understand that the conquistadors carry their controversy. However that is part of the history. Most Northern New Mexico Hispanics have Native American blood. Most Native Americans in Northern New Mexico have Spanish blood. We are one people with two cultures we are New Mexicans. Lot’s of New Mexicans have Anglo blood, lots of Anglos have New Mexican blood. We are becoming one people with three cultures we are New Mexicans. We will continue to grow into one people with more cultures as people discover and move to our state. I feel like the people who are destroying our history are not New Mexicans. They are not from here, they don’t understand. They come to New Mexico, call us racist to cover their racism, and erase our culture, in order to steal our culture and heritage. Instead of tearing down our culture and history, let’s add to it. Let’s leave up the monuments and create more. Leave De Vargas, leave Kit Carson, erect a statue of Popé, name a new street Tewa or Towa or Tiwa or Keresan. We need to recognize that this “PC” social justice, is just another form of racism. It’s a state sponsored racism. It’s an eradication of New Mexico’s culture.

Richard Reinders

Mathew well said, this state was a great place to be with the live and let live attitude, I am a transplant of 35 years off and on but never once did I want to change the unique quality of the culture. I am not sure what the agenda is that the progressive transplant from the west and east coast have by stirring this nonsense , but New Mexican need to fight back and vote all these people out like half of the city council who has been silent through this and the Mayor. Matter of fact all our legislators have also been silent so they also need to be looked at. Again well stated.

Bonnie Cox

[thumbup]

julian espinoza

Well said!!

Stefanie Beninato

You do know that there is a street in Santa Fe called Zia and that just N of Osage and W of Cerrillos there is a small subdivision with street names like Kiva, Tewa, Hano, Hopi, Otowi, San Felipe etc.

Andrew Lucero

To all our worthless politicians (especially the Mayor) and these moronic activist all I have to say is, History is not there for you to like or dislike. It is there for you to learn from it. If it offends you, even better. Because then, you are less likely to repeat it. It's not yours to erase. It belongs to all of us.

Stefanie Beninato

Judith Senda The Three Sisters Collective is based in Santa Fe; one of its founders’ father (Elena Ortiz) was from Ohkay Owingeh so I am not sure the leftists from the East and West coasts accurately describes or acknowledges the true organizers.

Dr Michael Johnson I have to take exception to your constant remark first that the Spaniards brought civilization to this area and now it is Spaniards and Anglos brought modern civilization here. Care to tell me what is modern about the Inquisition? Are payment for scalps civilized?

And as for no civilization prior to the Spaniards, eg roads---there are 30 ft wide flat roads going out of Chaco; the people in Chaco predicted the comet in 1454—also recorded there and in Europe; sophisticated understanding of microclimates; developed spirituality and art etc….

Lavonne Slusher

Racists don't like being called out on their racism? Too bad. Cockroaches and bed bugs hide from the light too.

Robert Bartlett

I think that your posts show that we are nearing peak racist demagoguery.

Patricia Ortiz

Including yourself. Those who shout the loudest are the guiltiest.

Dr. Michael Johnson

Our Lady of Guadalupe is crying right now...........[sad]

Lupe Molina

She's always crying. Her son died. It's kind of her thing.

kyle renfro

THE STATE POLICE SHOULD ARREST WEBBER FOR DESTRUCTION OF PROPERTY

Bonnie Cox

Not police power.

No, it is up to us. It is called IMPEACH. It can be done. Bring on the petitions.

Lupe Molina

Oooohh! I see. With the outfit and the hair I always thought that was a statue of Prince.

Richard Reinders

Webber are you in the habit of kicking hornet nests, this is going to come back on you , the city council and the Gov. ten fold. The least you could have done is invite the Pueblo Governors and the representatives from the Spanish side like Orlando Romero Historian and the Spainish ambassador to the US and done this in a ceremonial fashion instead of doing it like you were taking out the trash. Shame on you and shame on all your progressive benefactors.

Eric Allin

Instead of fighting injustice by removing monuments/statues, which conjure up the atrocities their people suffered, maybe work on the atrocities that are CURRENTLY affecting their people; alcoholism and sexual abuse within families that run rampant. Those are issues that matter, now. Not the removing of visual representations of horribleness that happened hundreds of years ago. Let's be current with our concerns about what's literally affecting your people.

Kathy Fish

Webber's boldest move yet. Hear hear! Chilled and thrilled at all this represents: A commitment to confronting deep-seated racism, and an acknowledgment of a truly rich and storied past. This statue does not our history make. It's a beautiful day to look forward.

Alfred Padilla

Remember folks when these fanatics run out of statues they will come for you. If you continue to vote democrat this is what you will get. Solution vote these fanatics out of office and return those statues to where they belong. Trump2020 Law&Order

David Ford

Horsehockey Alfred. GOP should stand for Gift of Paranoia, now that it is no longer the party of Lincoln.....

James Morris

Sign the petition "Rename De Vargas Mall in Santa Fe"

You can read more and sign the petition here:

http://chng.it/MLvswpKS

KT Rivera

enough already.

Robert Bartlett

How about Robert Byrd Mall?

Joey Martin

This one really hurts. Just about every other weekend I would take my children to Cathedral Park and this statue as well as several other monuments were all an opportunity for me to teach my children about their ancestors, the good and the bad. I don't care what anyone says but this is an attempt to erase history and shows a lack of resptect for cultural identities. This new mayor is going to far and is pandering to issues that are not focused on what is the true problem; concerns for our safety no matter what the color of our skin is or our historical identities... our history.

Felicia Goldberg

Wow this isn't good at all....lets see I'm Hispanic, Jewish , a woman and have some indigenous DNA. who and what am I supposed to hate more?

Also who makes these decisions unilaterally without public input during a national crisis?

Is this allowed?

Comment deleted.
Lupe Molina

Alright, Santa Fe New Mexican. You have conditions for your comment section, now enforce them.

Comment deleted.
KT Rivera

Forgiveness matters!

Comment deleted.
KT Rivera

Forgiveness!

KT Rivera

Mr. Mayor you are fired. The city of Santa Fe does not appreciate the way this was done. Doing things without a single discussion shows your administration's true colors. Shame on you! Perhaps you should remove all artwork in town since someone will always be offended by something. You no longer represent the overall good of this city- just caving to the squeaky wheels.

Kathy Fish

Right. Because the marginalized, the silenced, the raped, the downtrodden, the persecuted - squeaky wheels, each and every one.

KT Rivera

Who have been living in peace in this area until they unleashed their hate to start another war.

Andrew Lucero

Who exactly made the decision to remove these monuments? And why were they trying to remove the obelisk in the dead of night and the statue in the early hours of the morning? Someone tried to pull a fast one and have all these monuments removed while we were sleeping. Where was the City Council on this? Did they know about this, or did they meet in secret and make this decision… I think there may be some legal issues here.

Dr. Michael Johnson

Webber, the disgusting, cowardly carpetbagger once again ignores democracy and the democratic process to impose his unilateral will upon the citizens without their consent or discussion. Dictatorial power is written where in the NM Constitution and City Charter? He disrespects the vast and significant Spanish and Anglo cultures who brought prosperity, wealth, and modern civilization here, through great personal sacrifice. NM would be nothing but an empty, desolate desert without them, now they are being told you don't matter or count anymore. Sad.

Alfred Padilla

Thank you!

Tiffany Thomas

This is the one time I agree with you.

Stefanie Beninato

WOW! Webber thinks he is above the law--sound familiar? Did the city attorney have enough time to know that Joanne Vigil-Coppler's institutional memory (status on national and state historic registers--needs federal law to remove) is incorrect?

IMHO Webber is again trying to burnish a national reputation. See comments from first story: Where does Webber get off calling for the removal of particular statutes without seeking public input (and not just from protesters). Is he going to use the bogus emergency powers that he and his city manager have been using to make all kinds of changes without tranparency and public scrutiny to tear down the statutes and the obelisk. I am glad that Joanne Vigil Coppler has some institutional memory on the obelisk. To me it is in a different category than the statutes--which were put up in the late 20 C to honor one ethnic group in our town--the one sidedness of ethnicity in this town has always been problematic IMHO (and I am part Hispanic but not from here). The obelisk because of the removal of the word savage and the "excuse our language, it is historical" marker on the other side gives us opportunity to reflect and discuss racial/ethnic attitudes/bias and the changes over time. The obelisk is also the zero point for many deeds in downtown and the eastside. I am glad it is a historic monument and Webber cannot unilaterally take it down.

Oh BTW how about changing the name of Entrada Park (Don Diego and Cerrillos--actually a small, insignificant pocket park) to Peace Park?

William Craig

Amen. By the way, the article and comments from Wednesday are at:

https://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/local_news/activists-protesting-controversial-statues-turn-focus-to-santa-fe-plaza-obelisk/article_03e638b8-afed-11ea-90a4-6f9486661ccb.html

Cynthia Paxton

Another idea for a more productive "community" - how about you stop complaining about children who swim in our public pools?

Comment deleted.
julian espinoza

Don't forget to erect of statue of Donal Trump!!

Comment deleted.
Eric Allin

Exactly, this is just opening up a can of worms. It'll never end.

Khal Spencer

Deep breathing, folks.

I'm glad they left the obelisk alone. If it had been damaged the thing in a rush to remove it, the anger would outweigh any good. Slow down, folks, and get that commission together, get public input, and ensure we do this by consensus rather than edict.

I'm not sure where this stops. I think that is what some of us are scratching our heads over. Hawai'i had plenty of streets named after both Hawaiian monarchs (Kalakaua, Kamehameha, etc) and colonial masters (Dole) when I lived there (1987-2001) and there was blood on everyone's hands (Battle of Nuuanu, for example).

When you live on a small island, you need to accommodate each other. I wonder what is happening over there these days.

Nicoletta Munroe

An historic decision that will calm tensions concerning genocide, colonialism and patriarchy. Juan de Onate was the first governor of Santa Fe in the 16th century, yet was exiled in disgrace following the 1599 Acoma massacre. He was found to have used "excessive force" by the Spanish government. Symbols of tyranny, cruelty, and conquest are reminders of a time period when the quest for silver and gold superseded respect for humankind. Keep in mind that the obelisk on the Plaza was defaced when the word savage was carved away. Let us consider the word savage, does it say "Save age"?

Eslee Kessler

Yes! A very good summary.. We need to go beyond the historical debate to the moral question- why glorify symbols of “ tyranny, cruelty and conquest”? I would think we could come up with other symbols to commemorate the many contributions of the Hispanic, indigenous and Anglo cultures here in New Mexico.

William Craig

And yet the city’s “extraordinary financial crisis” means Chávez Center will stay shut until mid-July, although Rio Rancho and Albuquerque have already reopened their rec centers. ¡Ya basta!

William Craig

And our SF tax dollars also just paid for sheriff’s deputies to respond to a burglary at Zorro Ranch whose “late” owner famously made generous donations to local politicians and scientists connected to Harvard.

Epstein also sued SF County to get his property taxes drastically reduced, leaving the rest of us to pick up the bill.

William Craig

Crimes from centuries ago seem more important to the mobs than the recent criminality of politicians and their jillionaire sugar daddies, who’ve used their endless funny-money to turn the world into a gigantic whorehouse for their endless fun.

Now that we’re flushing the old criminals down the memory hole while venerating the new ones, maybe De Vargas Street should be renamed “Eric Griego Street” since that’s where the convicted state senator’s wheeling-dealing took place, as seen at:

https://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/local_news/griego-found-guilty-on-multiple-corruption-counts/article_a977b23e-cb2a-11e7-a896-2b44f6cf202c.html

Robert Bartlett

So now will we have to change the name of the shopping center? Our clueless mayor seems not to understand that this will never end until grown ups take charge.

joe martinez

Sanctimony feels so good. We get a sense of wholesomeness when these statues come down. Now we can get back to our jobs and contribute to society. Latest poll has Santa Fe tied with Portland and Seattle for 2nd place in the race for wacko capital of the West. Frisco way ahead in 1st, of course.

Susan Haynes

Please, never call San Francisco "frisco." Insulting to people who live there, where I lived for 22 years.

Eric Allin

This "PC" sudden uprising is a joke. Tell me, how many people that these monuments truly "offend" contemplate, on a daily basis, about how these monuments offend them? Or, is it "the thing to do" since it's being broadcast all over the media, across the world? Do these activist dwell on the offensive nature of the statutes on a daily basis? Every time they drive by, walk by one of these monuments, are they brought to tears, sent into deep thought about the travesties their people endured hundreds of years ago? Probably not. It's in the news, so let's suddenly get "woke" and make some headlines. Basically, if anything offends any of us, let's just get a mob of protesters (with similar view points) and demand we get what we want. My group of like minded protesters will demand the removal of weeds that plague the city and demand that the road conditions throughout the city are repaired, as they should be since that's what we pay taxes for. Maybe then, our voices will be heard. Apparently that's what you need to do; march, protest and vandalize (Kit Carson monument- on federal property by the way) and then we'll get our way.

paul pacheco

TODAY I’m going to be a non-hater, liberal leftist and want to remove statutes because they represent hatred and racism: The mayor is right in correcting this travesty that other mayors approved and helped to erect. That goes for you Mayor Sam Pick and Mayor Larry Delgado and Mayor Debbie Jaramillo, and all the other mayors who celebrated the historic events that prompted the erection of some statutes. I don’t blame those who want to protest to try and make their point known, we must yell loudly and be like protestors around the nation. Because the Spanish settlers who came here were haters! And we must rid hatred from our communities but never mind from our hearts! Afterall, these statues were approved by our previous city councilors and civic leader’s who were haters and racists too! But while we’re at it let’s not allow Zozobra to go up anymore either, his creator Willl Schcuster was probably a hater and racist too. He participated in this celebration that went back 275 years before he came here from back east and he is contributing to the problem. Or we can wait and protest in September! Way to go Mayor Webber, if you weren’t nurturing and taking care of our fair city, getting rid of the hatred who knows, you might just be walking around somewhere in Portland!

Prince Michael Jauregui

A truly sad day in New Mexico's -and America's- history. Another cowardly attempt to marginalize the vast and vital contributions made, however imperfect, by Hispanos/Latinos in America. New Mexicans, the words of My Late, Beloved Grandma Manuelita will prevail: "Dios, ve todo."

joe archuleta

That’s what the people of Santa Fe deserve for voting for a Republican, next he’ll do away with the Santa Fe fiestas!

Miranda Viscoli

Good job Santa Fe. Mayor Webber thank you for your leadership. De Vargas is not a symbol that fosters unity and, in fact, the reverence to his name embodied in the act of having that name on street signs, names of schools and public statues is a racist affront to members of our Indigenous Populations every time they drive by. In Santa Fe, we tend to feel morally superior when we watch states like Virginia finally facing their demons by removing statues of Robert E. Lee and other symbols of institutionalized racism. Our reverence to perpetrators of genocide that centuries ago should certainly make us take a hard look in the mirror.

KT Rivera

The fact that you believe it was homage to genocide is the problem. What's next? Take down all statues of Moses because he was human?

Abe Rivera

Oh c’mon. That’s a stretch. The Spanish “Conquistadores” as they were and are still called to this day. De Vargas is commemorated for the “bloodless” reconquest of Santa Fe but we don’t talk about how the indigenous people were given an ultimatum to bow to Spain and become Catholics or die.

Even so, after Santa Fe was taken back, De Vargas had several (some say as high as a hundred) indigenous people killed. Many more were forced into slavery for the Spanish colonists.

These are people who lived here for centuries, colonized, forced to change their religion, all to pacify European settlers who were only here because they heard a rumor about seven cities of gold.

This is the legacy of the man who is inexplicably revered in Santa Fe.

Moses...please.

KT Rivera

My point was representation is in the eye of the beholder. Colonization was never celebrated. A statue of Moses will represent different things to different people. Will we take those down too because he was a flawed man?

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