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Why protesters in Colombia are targeting monuments of Spanish conquistadors | USA

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Members of the Muisca indigenous community perform a ritual burial of conquistador Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada in Bogotá.
Members of the Muisca indigenous community perform a ritual burial of conquistador Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada in Bogotá.

The Monumento a Los Héroes, dedicated to soldiers who fought for independence, is without one of the movement’s most famous figures, Simón Bolivar, astride his horse. The Avenida Eldorado in the Colombian capital of Bogotá is no longer watched over by an early 20th-century statue of explorer Christopher Columbus nor his patron, Queen Isabella I, the Castilian monarch who unified Spain’s kingdoms. The city’s downtown Avenida Jiménez has been renamed Avenida Misak after the Minsk indigenous community. The protests in Colombia have left a string of empty pedestals and an urban landscape attempting to redefine itself.

Following repeated attempts – some of them successful – by protesters and indigenous communities to knock down statues of Spanish conquistadors, among other historical figures, the government of President Iván Duque has removed some and announced a review into other monuments that have stood in the country since 1920. “Our priority is to protect our patrimony. In view of potential incidents, we have decided to move them on a temporary basis to the La Sabana [railway] station,” said Culture Minister Angélica Mayolo. Recently appointed to the post, Mayolo has performed a change of tack on the government’s position concerning monuments. Her two predecessors in the ministry had described the pulling down of statues as vandalism. “The country must respect different viewpoints and listen to indigenous communities who today feel discriminated against by symbols of national heritage, but without condoning violence and destruction,” Mayolo said on announcing the decision of the National Heritage Council to review the presence of several monuments. However, it is not yet clear who will be involved in the dialogue or which are the statues in question.

Protesters surrounding the Monumento de los Héroes in Bogotá.
Protesters surrounding the Monumento de los Héroes in Bogotá.Mauricio Dueñas Castañeda / EFE

During the first days of the protests in Colombia, which started on April 28, indigenous protesters toppled a statue of the Spanish conquistador Sebastián de Belalcázar in Cali for a second time. “We have knocked down Sebastián de Belalcázar in memory of our chief Petecuy, who fought against the Spanish crown, so that today we, his grandchildren carry on the fight to change this system of criminal government that does not respect the rights of mother earth,” the Indigenous Authorities of the South West movement said. The same fate later befell a statue of the conquistador Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada, the founder of Bogotá. Images of his face pressed against the floor and the flags of the Misak indigenous people of Cauca flying on the pedestal were a harbinger of what was to come for monuments across the country. Later that day, a photograph of Dilan Cruz, a young protester killed by the police in 2019, was installed in place of Quesada but during the night a group of people removed it. The Avenida Jiménez, one of Bogotá’s busiest thoroughfares, is now known – at least informally – as Avenida Misak, in homage to the indigenous protesters who pulled down the statue.

Following the toppling of the Belalcázar statue, and foreseeing what would happen to similar monuments, the Bogotá District Institute of Cultural Heritage (IDPC) opened up a series of talks over the monuments and what they represent with around 170 people participating. One of the conclusions drawn from the talks is that there is consensus “even among those who have a traditional point of view that it is necessary to broaden the scope of the patrimonial narrative,” and that there should be “no closed-door debates or ones that involve only experts.” “What we have seen during the protests is that there is an interpellation of public space,” explained IDPC director Patrick Morales.

The statue of Spanish conquistador Gonzalo Jimenez de Quesada after being knocked down by Misak indigenous protesters.
The statue of Spanish conquistador Gonzalo Jimenez de Quesada after being knocked down by Misak indigenous protesters.– / AFP

The Misak community has been at the forefront of the tumbling of statues during the protests. On June 10 they gathered around the monuments to Columbus and Queen Isabella I. When they tried to pull the figures down, a squadron of riot police quickly intervened, forming a cordon around the statues and clashing with protesters. Ten people were injured. Although they did not achieve their objective, the protesters remained in place, singing and dancing. The following morning, the government made a surprise decision: the statues were removed. Images of the historical figures laid flat on a huge tow truck in the center of Bogotá, and of the protesters on the vacated pedestals waving flags, were seen by some as a victory for the indigenous communities, although the government stressed it was a preventive measure to protect the statues.

Professor Amada Carolina Pérez of the Social Sciences faculty at the Pontifical Xavierian University explained that the protests are not just a questioning of historical figures, “but of colonialism as a matrix of thought and esthetics.” Pérez agreed with Morales that “this is a telluric movement that is shaking up pubic space” and one that is linked to the graffiti, murals and monuments to resistance that have sprung up during the two months of protests. “This protest has stirred up some very significant things, questioning the way memory has been created in the public space and showing how it could take on a new significance,” Pérez said.

The question now is: what to do with the fallen statues? Where should they be housed? What end should they be given? These are the questions that the roundtables between the authorities and the communities will seek to answer. In Bogotá, where talks are progressing, some proposals have come to light. One is to house them in museums, as other countries have done in the same circumstances. “Take them to museums as backdrops for difficult debates about difficult pasts. It could be an option that, for example, Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada ends up as an exhibit in one of them. Then, more questions arise. How do we present it? Do we completely retore it or display it with the marks left from when it fell?” asked Morales.

Other options being considered are a public display that would pass through the regions where the historical events occurred to generate debate. Another proposal has been put forward by indigenous groups in Bogotá: to perform ritual burials. This was what happened with the statue of Quesada. On June 20, the winter solstice, the Muisca community gave the Spanish conquistador a funeral procession. The idea, said Morales, was to “let him go and to pardon him, to let the scars heal.” The Muisca explained it like this: “Performing a burial is to ‘cleanse the deceased,’ that is to say paying the spiritual and material debt left behind, healing the history or memory of everything and everybody that was affected. We walk to pay the debt and make sure that history does not repeat itself.”

English version by Rob Train.

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Census 2022 – what difference does it make?

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Next Sunday, April 3rd, is Census night. Millions of people in homes countrywide will fill in page after page of questions, some of which are deeply personal and many of which might be unfamiliar.

But what it is it all about?

At a basic level, Census 2022 will be used to inform planning of public policy and services in the years ahead, according to the Central Statistics Office.

The questions will cover a range of environmental, employment and lifestyle issues, including the use of renewable energy sources in homes.

The questions will help inform policy development in the areas of energy and climate action, and the prevalence of internet access, to understand the availability of and need for internet connections and range of devices used to access the internet.

Questions also focus on changes in work patterns and will include the trend of working from home and childcare issues, while questions are also asked about the times individuals usually leave work, education or childcare, to help identify and plan for transport pattern needs locally and nationally.

Other topics covered include volunteering and the type of organisations volunteers choose to support, tobacco usage and the prevalence of smoke alarms in the home.

And of course there is a time capsule – the chance to write something which will be sealed for the next 100 years.

In this episode of In The News, the head of census administration Eileen Murphy and statistician Kevin Cunningham about what it all means for us.

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Oscars 2022: Will Smith makes Oscar history after slapping Chris Rock over joke about wife Jada Pinkett Smith | Culture

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Will Smith took the Oscar for Best Actor at last night’s 94th Academy Awards, but he also became the protagonist of the ceremony for other reasons. The night was following the script, until Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock on the stage after the latter made a joke about the shaved head of the former’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. Rock had quipped that he was “looking forward to GI Jane 2,” in reference to her look. Pinkett Smith has revealed publicly that she has alopecia. It looked as if the moment had been planned, until Smith went back to his seat and shouted: “Get my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth.”

The moment, which immediately became Oscar history but for all the wrong reasons, left the attendees with frozen smiles, and asking themselves whether it was possible that a veteran such as Smith could have lost his cool in front of tens of millions of people. After taking the prize for Best Actor, the superstar actor made a tearful apology, saying that he hoped the Academy “will invite me back.” Later on, actor Anthony Hopkins called for “peace and love,” but it was already too late. The incident overshadowed the success of CODA, which took the Oscar for Best Picture. Just like the time when Warren Beatty mistakenly named La La Land as the big winner of the night, no one will speak about anything else from last night’s awards.

At first sight, Smith’s actions looked as if they were scripted. When he first heard Rock’s joke, he laughed. But his wife was seen on camera rolling her eyes, and it was then that the actor got up onto the stage and hit Rock. When he returned to his seat he raised his voice twice to shout “Get my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth,” sending a wave of unease and shock through the attending audience. The fact that he used the f-word, which is prohibited on US television, set alarm bells ringing that this was real and not a planned moment. In fact, the curse word was censored by the broadcaster, ABC, in the United States.

During a break, Smith’s PR manager approached him to speak. In the press room, which the actor skipped after collecting his prize, instructions were given to the journalists not to ask questions about the incident, Luis Pablo Beauregard reports. The next presenter, Sean “Diddy” Combs, tried to calm the situation. “Will and Chris, we’re going to solve this – but right now we’re moving on with love,” the rapper said.

When Smith took to the stage to collect his Best Actor award for his role as Richard Williams – the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena – in King Richard, he referred to the character as “a fierce defender of his family.” He continued: “I’m being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people. I know to do what we do you’ve got to be able to take abuse, and have people talk crazy about you and have people disrespecting you and you’ve got to smile and pretend it’s OK.”

He explained that fellow actor Denzel Washington, who also spoke to Smith during a break, had told him: “At your highest moment, be careful, that’s when the devil comes for you.”

“I want to be a vessel for love,” Smith continued. “I want to be an ambassador of that kind of love and care and concern. I want to apologize to the Academy and all my fellow nominees. […] I look like the crazy father just like they said about Richard Williams, but love will make you do crazy things,” he said. He then joked about his mother, who had not wanted to come to the ceremony because she had a date with her crochet group.

The Los Angeles Police Department released a statement last night saying that Chris Rock would not be filing any charges for assault against Smith. “LAPD investigative entities are aware of an incident between two individuals during the Academy Awards program,” the statement read. “The incident involved one individual slapping another. The individual involved has declined to file a police report. If the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report.”

On December 28, Pinkett Smith spoke on social media about her problems with alopecia. She stated that she would be keeping her head shaved and would be dealing with the condition with humor. “Me and this alopecia are going to be friends… Period!” she wrote on Instagram.



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House-price inflation set to stay double digit for much of 2022

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House-price inflation is expected to remain at double-digit levels for much of 2022 as the mismatch between what is for sale and what buyers want continues.

Two new reports on the housing market paint a picture of a sector under strain due to a lack of supply and increased demand driven by Covid-related factors such as remote working.

The two quarterly reports, one each from rival property websites myhome.ie and daft.ie, suggest asking prices accelerated again in the first quarter of 2022 as the stock of homes available for sale slumped to a new record low.

Myhome, which is owned by The Irish Times, said annual asking-price inflation was now running at 12.3 per cent.

Price

This put the median or typical asking price for a home nationally at €295,000, and at €385,000 in Dublin.

MyHome said the number of available properties for sale on its website fell to a record low of 11,200 in March, down from a pre-pandemic level of 19,000. The squeeze on supply, it said, was most acute outside Dublin, with the number of properties listed for sale down almost 50 per cent compared with pre-pandemic levels.

It said impaired supply and robust demand meant double-digit inflation is likely until at least mid-2022.

“Housing market conditions have continued to tighten,” said author of the myhome report, Davy chief economist Conall Mac Coille.

“The broad picture of the market in early 2022 remains similar to last year: impaired supply coupled with robust demand due to Ireland’s strong labour market,” he said.

Soure: MyHome.ie

“One chink of light is that new instructions to sell of 7,500 in the first 11 weeks of 2022 are well up from 4,800 in 2021, albeit still below the 9,250 in 2019. The flow of new properties therefore remains impaired,” said Mr Mac Coille.

“Whatever new supply is emerging is being met by more than ample demand. Hence, transaction volumes in January and February were up 13 per cent on the year but pushed the market into ever tighter territory,” he said.

He said Davy was now predicting property-price inflation to average 7 per cent this year, up from a previous forecast of 4.5 per cent, buoyed strong employment growth.

Homes

Daft, meanwhile, said house asking prices indicated the average listed price nationwide in the first quarter of 2022 was €299,093, up 8.4 per cent on the same period in 2021 and and just 19 per cent below the Celtic Tiger peak, while noting increases remain smaller in urban areas, compared to rural.

Just 10,000 homes were listed for sale on its website as of March 1st, an all-time low. In Dublin, Cork and Galway cities, prices in the first quarter of 2022 were roughly 4 per cent higher on average than a year previously, while in Limerick and Waterford cities the increases were 7.6 per cent and 9.3 per cent respectively.

The report’s author, Trinity College Dublin economist Ronan Lyons, said: “Inflation in housing prices remains stubbornly high – with Covid-19 disturbing an equilibrium of sorts that had emerged, with prices largely stable in 2019 but increasing since.

“As has been the case consistently over the last decade, increasing prices – initially in Dublin and then elsewhere – reflect a combination of strong demand and very weak supply.”


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