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Columbus statue runs aground in Puerto Rico

Sep 25, 2011 3:08:00 PM - thestate.com
It would be the tallest structure in the Caribbean and among the tallest statues in the world, a monument to Christopher Columbus in a region where he has not been regarded highly for many years.

So far, though, the nearly 300-foot (92-meter) bronze likeness of The Great Explorer just seems like a monumental morass or perhaps a colossal joke. Originally intended to grace the skies of a major U.S. city, it has been shuffled from one locale to another and lies in pieces as a businessman and the mayor of the small Puerto Rican town of Arecibo try to finally erect it overlooking the Atlantic Ocean on the island's north coast.

But this still may not be the final chapter in what has so far been a 20-year saga. The statue's final resting place is far from certain: Its backers must gather a long list of permits, including from the Federal Aviation Administration, to install a monument so tall it could interfere with air traffic. And now, Puerto Rican officials are competing to bring it to their parts of the island as a lure to tourists.

Then there is the fact that the roughly 600-ton (544-metric ton) statue, like many other large-scale public works, inspires more criticism than awe, especially since Columbus is commonly viewed now as the harbinger of genocide rather than the discoverer of the New World.

"To be honest, it's a monstrosity," says Cristina Rivera, a longtime activist against the creation of private beaches in Arecibo who has been vocal about her opposition to erecting a giant Columbus in her town. "Why do we have to bring such an exaggerated piece of work here?"

USA, South Carolina: (Latest Stories)