Opinion

São Paulo’s Borba Gato statue should be permanently removed. Here’s how to do it

Protesters set fire to a controversial São Paulo statue, commemorating a notorious slaver from Brazil's colonial period. But direct action can only go so far – the solution lies in legislation

borba gato statue fire
Protesters set the Borba Gato statue on fire during anti-Bolsonaro protests. Photo: Gabriel Schlickmann/iShoot/Folhapress

Movements in the U.S. and United Kingdom to vandalize and remove statues deemed to be glorifying those countries’ colonizing and slave-trading past have now spread to Brazil. Last week, a group which calls itself the Peripheral Revolution set fire to a controversial statue of famous pioneer Borba Gato in the southern zone of São Paulo, Brazil’s biggest city.

Borba Gato is among the best-known of Brazil’s Bandeirantes, a group of explorers and fortune hunters credited with the inland expansion during the country’s colonial period. Stretching the borders of Brazilian territory to lands unexplored by settlers, the Bandeirantes captured,...

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