Statue of Spanish Explorer Vandalized


AP PHOTO/Carlos Giust

Monument of Spanish explorer lays in pieces on the ground

Natalia Garcia, Staff Writer

     Early Monday morning unknown people in San Juan, Puerto Rico demolished the statue of Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León. José Juan García, a police commissioner for San Juan, stated that officers patrolling the cobblestone streets of the capital’s historic district heard a loud bang at 4:30 am. García said it sounded like an explosion. This occurred hours before the visit of the Spanish king, Felipe VI, to meet with the Governor of Puerto Rico, Pedro Pierluisi, to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the founding city. 

     Juan Ponce de León is known to be the first governor of Puerto Rico. The move into power caused turmoil amongst the native Tainos. Many consider him as a hero while others see a tyrant. 

     Local media reported that a group called the Borikén Libertarian Forces claimed to be responsible for the damages. Also, according to a news organization, NotiCentro, they sent a statement saying, “Before the supposed visit of the King of Spain, Felipe VI, to Puerto Rico and the escalation of ‘gringo’ invaders taking over our lands, we want to send a clear message: Neither Kings nor invading ‘gringos’; Borikén is ours. Juan Ponce de León, who was the first governor of Puerto Rico imposed by Spain’s tyranny more than 500 years ago, represents the worst. He was the ringleader of crushing our Tainos ancestors who resisted under the leadership of Agüeybaná  El Bravo. The history hasn’t been told well but the generation that does not tolerate, comes to the rescue of it and with pride, we will fight like the original peoples of Borikén.” 

     Miguel Romero, mayor of San Juan, did not take this incident lightly. He called the citizens who took down the statue bandits. 

     “This is an act of vandalism, it is the commission of crime, it is to destroy and seek damage property of the people of Puerto Rico,” Romero said. 

     The statue was reinstalled in the evening on the same day the incident happened. Many tried to prevent the reinstallment. A history teacher got on the pedestal while two others climbed the crane that was used to lift the statue. It’s likely that the people who damaged and are against the statue will not sit with their arms crossed.