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Spanish mayors fight over Columbus story

Steve Tallantyre · 21 May 2014, 13:09

Published: 21 May 2014 13:09 GMT+02:00

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Party allegiances were consigned to the dustbin of history as Seville's Juan Ignacio Zoido and Huelva's  Pedro Rodríguez waged a war of words.

As members of Spain's ruling Popular Party (PP), the two men share political ideals but have very different views of what happened over 500 years ago when Christopher Columbus's three ships left Spain to travel to the New World.

The row ignited when Zoido raised the subject in a meeting on Monday with Spain's Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy.

"Dear Mariano," he reportedly said, "in the modern age, Seville was the Kilometre Zero (the place in Spain from which all distances are traditionally measured — now Madrid's Puerta del Sol square).

From here, the ships left to discover America and here the construction of the Europe of the future was begun. Although they say that the ships left from Palos [in Huelva], that is a lie: the ships left from here."

The mayor of Huelva hit back on Facebook, writing that Zoido should receive a "zero in history" and that the "wild" declarations were "fruit of the immense love that my friend Zoido has for his city," according to the website of Spanish TV channel Antena3.

He added: "But it is one thing to have passion for Seville and quite another to rewrite history."

He cited Columbus's diary and said that he would send a copy to Zoido.

"Every history book names the port of Palos de la Frontera, and Huelva, as the departure point for Columbus's ships," he wrote.

Others joined in with the argument, including the socialist President of Huelva's council, Ignacio Caraballo, who offered to give Zoido free history lessons and asked if his opinion was the result of "ignorance, or navel-gazing, or both."

Story continues below…

Italian-born Christohper Columbus, known in Spanish as Cristóbal Colón, made a series of voyages westwards across the Atlantic ocean between 1492 and 1502.

Sailing under the flag of Spain, he raised European awareness of the American continents despite having originally set out to find Japan.

The fiery debtate over his point of departure comes only a week after a team of US archaelogists claimed they may have found Columbus's missing ship, the Santa María.

Steve Tallantyre (news@thelocal.es)

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