Latin America & Caribbean

Plaque unveiled by Prince Charles in Colombia is removed

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Media captionCartagena residents felt the plaque unveiled by Prince Charles, was "ignorant of history"

A controversial plaque unveiled last week by Prince Charles in the Colombian port city of Cartagena has been removed after local opposition.

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.

But Cartagena Mayor Dionisio Velez ordered its removal after it was criticised by residents.

They were angry that it did not mention the Spanish troops who also died.

Some were galled that it was placed near a statue of the Colombian hero who repelled the attack by the British.

Local journalists and writers said the plaque glorified colonial warfare and commemorated an attack by invaders whom they described as "English pirates".

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

It was unveiled by Prince Charles on his visit to the city last week, but was damaged by a local protester with a hammer.

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

Image copyright ALAMY
Image caption Gen Blas de Lezo is honoured for his defence of the city of Cartagena from English forces

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

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.

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

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