“Oh, it must be that thing covered up with pigeon poop in the back lot…”

Northern New Mexico experienced demonstrations last year focusing on statues memorializing early Spanish explorers who had brutalized Native American people in the Southwest. Several statues and memorials were removed or torn down by angry protestors.

In Santa Fe, city administrators feared that a statue in Cathedral Park memorializing Diego de Vargas would be vandalized, so they ordered it removed and taken to a safe and secure place. De Vargas was the Spaniard who led the reconquest of New Mexico following the Pueblo Revolt of 1680.

When a former city council member inquired recently about the whereabouts of the statue, he learned that instead of being in a “safe and secure location,” it had merely been dropped off in the back lot of the company that the city had hired to remove it.

Removed statue turns up in backyard of business
Statue of Diego de Vargas, sitting on a moving pallet in an undisclosed lot somewhere in Santa Fe. Photo from Albuquerque Journal.

“The city never told them (the moving company) where to take it,” lamented Ron Trujillo, a former city council member and head of a historical committee which for years had re-enacted De Vargas’ re-entry to the city. (That celebration has also been put on hold.)

City mayor Alan Webber said he had been told that the statue was removed to a secure location on city property, but now admits he was mislead.

The current location of the statue is not known, although it was apparently easy enough for a “courtesy” photographer to find and share a photo of it with the Albuquerque Journal. The city has promised it will soon be whisked away to a true “safe and secure” location, hopefully covered up to avoid prying eyes more pigeon droppings.

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