Mexico City is set to replace Italian explorer Christopher Columbus' statue with one of an Indigenous woman after the explorer's statue was removed last year ahead of protests.

Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said that the Columbus statue will be removed and be replaced by a statue of an Olmec woman, according to a BBC News report.

Protests have targeted Columbus statues in Latin America and the United States.

Sheinbaum said that the removal of the statue was not an effort to "erase history." Rather it was an attempt to deliver "social justice" for the historical role of women in Mexico, especially Indigenous women.

She noted that the people owe them the history of their country, according to an Aljazeera report.

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Christopher Columbus Statue in Mexico City

The Columbus statues were donated to the city many years ago and have become a favorite target of protesters condemning the European suppression of Mexico's Indigenous people.

The statue was removed for a supposed restoration before October 12, known as Columbus Day. Mexicans, however, call the occasion "Dia de la Raza" or "Day of the Race."

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador noted that the removal of the statue is very controversial and lends itself to the conflicting idea and political conflicts, according to a USA Today report.

Most Mexicans have Indigenous ancestry and were aware that millions of Indigenous people have died from violence and disease during Columbus' conquest.

Pedro Reyes, a Mexican sculptor, will be creating a new statue of an Olmec woman. The Olmec civilization is thought to be one of the oldest civilizations in Mesoamerica.

Reyes said that if anyone can teach people how to take care of this planet, it's the native peoples.

Christopher Columbus Statues in the United States

Several Columbus statues in the United States have also been toppled down, particularly in Minnesota, Boston, and Richmond, Virginia, as protesters were angered by the death of George Floyd.

In Minnesota, the sculpture of Columbus was brought down after a group of protesters had tied ropes around the statue's neck and pulled it from its pedestal, according to The New York Times report.

Among the demonstrators were local Native Americans, according to reporters at the scene.

Native Americans have denounced the legacy of Columbus as an explorer, with the Indigenous people in Maryland asking Columbus Day to be changed to Indigenous Peoples Day.

Columbus had launched the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade when he seized hundreds of Tainos and shipped them to Spain for gold, according to a Baltimore Sun report.

He also enslaved and used others for sex trafficking, including Indigenous children as young as nine years old.

In addition, he required Taino people to bring him gold every three months, or he would cut off their arms, with research showing that many Tainos died this way.

Columbus' priest had also recorded several brutal massacres of Indians, which included disemboweling them. He had also encouraged the rape of women.

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Written by Mary Webber

WATCH: Mexico removes Christopher Columbus statue before annual protest - from Al Jazeera English