Indians Protest Columbus Day
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
COLOTENANGO, Guatemala (AP) -- Thousands of Indians blocked highways across Central America and Mexico on Saturday, protesting Columbus Day and celebrating the region's Indian heritage.
Organizers of marches in Guatemala had originally predicted that participants would close Guatemala's borders with Mexico, Honduras and El Salvador, but only a few crossings were blocked.
Police and soldiers were sent out across the region to prevent violence, but no major disturbances were reported.
Saturday's protests coincided with the anniversary of Christopher Columbus' discovery of America in 1492. Many Indian groups oppose Columbus Day celebrations, arguing that the Europeans' arrival marked the start of the Indians' fight to maintain their traditions and land.
In Guatemala, 1,000 protesters blocked a highway near Colotenango, 170 miles northeast of Guatemala City near the border with Mexico.
``The 12th of October is a symbol of resistance for the Indian communities before the Spanish invasion,'' said Mario Godinez, a march organizer in Guatemala.
Across the border in Mexico, President Vicente Fox praised the Indian marches, saying they were a ``recovery of (the Indian groups') dignity, identity, culture, history.''
Copyright The Associated Press