Spanish Ambassador Javier Carbajosa

Ambassador of Spain to T&T Javier Carbajosa said it would be a cause of great sadness to him and his government if the statue of explorer Christopher Columbus is removed from Port-of-Spain.

He said Spain has always been “extremely proud of the bonds of friendship and cultural interaction between our countries.”

In a statement yesterday, Ambassador Carbajosa said he had been following with great concern the debate on the issue.

“The image of the Admiral’s defaced statue is particularly unsettling,” he said.

The ambassador said his first reaction to the campaign, which is being aggressively pursued locally by the Cross Rhodes Freedom Project, was amazement.

“Really?!! At a time in which COVID-19 is still among us and the consequences on the economy of Trinidad and Tobago seem uncertain. Really? Is this an urgent problem for Trinidad and Tobago now?” he asked.

While he did not weigh in on into the pros and cons of Columbus’ arrival in the Americas, Carbajosa expressed concern that T&T’s indigenous movement had “launched an offensive of this kind” building on the momentum generated by protests in the US.

He said: “History cannot be rewritten to the taste of the consumer. It is what it is, with its lights and shadows, and it is part of our legacy. We should accept it and learn from it. My point is that trying to rewrite history and pretend that things never existed is, in my opinion, a futile and hypocritical and dangerous endeavour.”

The ambassador added: “If the City of Port-of-Spain begins with the removal of Admiral Columbus’ statue, what will be the next step? I guess that one will have to rename the capital city (a part of the Spanish legacy, as well as other cities like San Fernando, Sangre Grande, Maracas, Las Cuevas, Santa Cruz, Rio Claro, Cedros, Icacos etc), and of course the very name of the island “Trinidad”, chosen as a reflection of the pious character of the Admiral (the Holy Trinity).”

Taken to its extreme, Carbajosa contended, all signage throughout the country in Spanish and English would have to be removed and replaced since they represent the vestiges of “an oppressing force”.

“I think it would be wise to think twice about the consequences of our actions,” he said.