Personnel from La Paz's Municipal Workshop School on Monday began the process of cleaning the statue of Christopher Columbus in the city center, which last week had been painted and hung with signs calling for it to be removed because of the "genocide" perpetrated by Europeans on the New World's native inhabitants.
The first step in the cleaning is to analyze the damage done to the statue by "external agents" - glue and paint - and to determine how to clean it so as not to damage the white marble, restorer Yuri Flores told EFE.
The monument is located on one of La Paz's most heavily traveled avenues and last week it was stained with black and red paint and signs were posted on it saying "Columbus genocide," "Out with Columbus" and "Get rid of Columbus," among others.
A four-person team will do a "dry cleaning" so as not to damage the marble, removing all the glue and paint from the statue, which then will be covered with a "protective coating" to safeguard it, Flores said.
He said that the project would be finished by Dec. 15.
The monument, inaugurated in 1926 after being fashioned by Italian sculptor Giuseppe Graciosa, has a Latin inscription on its front and an Italian one on its back, since it was a present to La Paz by the city's Italian community.
The incident came a few days after local authorities in Los Angeles, California, removed a statue of Columbus from the downtown area as an "act of restorative justice" for the original inhabitants of the New World.
Bolivian President Evo Morales , a member of the indigenous Aymara people, hailed the removal of the Los Angeles statue saying that the so-called discovery of the Americas by Europeans was an act of "genocide."