Colombians Unhappy Over Tribute to 18th-Century British Attackers


A plaque honoring British soldiers killed in a 1741 assault on what was then the Spanish colonial bastion of Cartagena is causing controversy in Colombia, The Latin American Herald Tribune reports.

Britain’s Prince Charles unveiled the plaque last week during a visit to the Caribbean port city.

The plaque, with a text in Spanish and English, was placed at the fortress of San Felipe to commemorate the British troops killed in Cartagena 273 years ago.

“In memory of the courage and suffering of all those who died in battle trying to take the city and Fort San Felipe under the command of Admiral Edward Vernon at Cartagena de Indias in 1741,” the plaque reads.

The battle for Cartagena pitted some 30,000 British attackers against Spanish Admiral Blas de Lezo and a force of barely 3,000 men, including soldiers, militiamen and city residents with no prior military experience.

Given the disparity in forces, the British were so certain of their victory that even before the battle, they minted commemorative medals praising Adm. Vernon as a hero.

But the victory and the honor went to the defenders and to Blas de Lezo, who was wounded in the fighting and died a few hours after repelling the British assault.

“To anyone in Cartagena who honors the defenders’ struggle that plaque is painful,” historian Oscar Quintana Mendoza told Radio Caracol. “It shows a lack of historical perspective on the part of the mayor.”

Cartagena’s mayor, Dionisio Velez, told Blu radio that unveiling the plaque “was a noble gesture on the part of Prince Charles,” as it implies “acceptance that his army was defeated in Cartagena.”

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