News   /   More

Statue of Spanish explorer toppled in Puerto Rico capital ahead of king's visit

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The Juan Ponce de Leon statue in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico is seen prior to its toppling on January 24, 2022, hours before Spanish King Felipe VI was set to visit the Caribbean island. (Photo by AFP)

A statue of Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon has been toppled in Puerto Rico's capital San Juan, hours before a visit to the Caribbean island by Spain's King Felipe VI.

According to a police report quoted by local media, some individuals approached the statue located in a square in the historic center of San Juan, and caused damage.

Felipe VI was due later Monday in Puerto Rico, a US territory, to mark the 500th anniversary of San Juan's founding.

The city's origins date back to 1521, but the official celebrations were delayed due to the COVIID-19 pandemic.

Local media reported that a group known as the Boriken Libertarian Forces has claimed responsibility.

"Faced with the... 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 'gringo' invaders," the group wrote in a statement.

Ponce de Leon undertook a royal mission in 1508 to explore and colonize the island, which the native Taino inhabitants called Boriken. He eventually became Puerto Rico's first governor.

The statue was forged in 1882 in New York, with bronze obtained from British cannons captured after a failed attack on the Spanish in Puerto Rico in 1797.

The toppling of statues has intensified following the killing of African American George Floyd by police in the US state of Minnesota.

His death helped fuel global protests, including in the US, the UK and elsewhere, where much of the focus of demonstrations has been on their colonial past.

Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

Press TV News Roku