Latin America & Caribbean

Colombia seeks to remove plaque unveiled by Prince Charles

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Media captionCartagena residents feel the plaque unveiled by Prince Charles, is "ignorant of history"

The mayor of the Colombian port city of Cartagena has said he will ask for a controversial plaque unveiled last week by Prince Charles to be removed.

The plaque memorialises a British naval officer and his troops who laid siege to the city in 1741 in an attempt to take it from the Spanish, which ruled it at the time.

It was unveiled by Prince Charles on his visit to the city last week.

The lack of mention of the Spanish losses was criticised by residents.

The plaque was damaged earlier by a local protester, who was detained by tourist police officers.

Pegleg's victory

Cartagena Mayor Dionisio Velez, who attended the unveiling with Prince Charles, said that it had never been his intention to "stir this controversy, or hurt the feelings of people".

Image copyright EPA
Image caption A local resident damaged the plaque with a hammer earlier today

The Siege of Cartagena

  • Admiral Edward Vernon arrived at Cartagena on 13 March 1741
  • He headed a powerful flotilla of 186 ships carrying around 28,600 troops. His orders were to take the city
  • He faced Spanish opposition and some 3,600 troops
  • The British retreated after about two months, after suffering heavy losses from fighting and yellow fever
  • According to historians at the time, the Spanish lost most of their troops in defence of the city
Image copyright ALAMY
Image caption Gen Blas de Lezo became famous for his defence of the city of Cartagena from English forces

"A mayor has to avoid errors, but when it's clear he has made one, he is obliged to rectify it," he said.

The plaque, in front of the 16th Century San Felipe fortress, recalls "the valour and suffering of all those who died in combat while seeking to take the city".

One of the largest British fleets ever assembled arrived in Cartagena in 1741 and tried to take the rich port city from the Spaniards.

They were eventually repelled by a small force of Spanish soldiers, militia and local residents under the command of Gen Blas de Lezo.

Gen de Lezo became known as a master strategist thanks to his successful defence of Cartagena in the face of forces almost 10 times bigger than his.

A statue to Gen de Lezo, also known as Pegleg, stands at the entrance of the San Felipe fortress.

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