San Juan, Jan 25 (EFE).- Spain’s King Felipe VI on Tuesday called for a renewal of relations between his country and US territory Puerto Rico during an official visit to mark the 500th anniversary of the founding of the island’s capital San Juan.
Felipe made his address following a meeting with San Juan mayor Miguel Romero, who extended the invitation to the Spanish monarch to take part in the event.
“A celebration that serves to remind us what unites us, to renew those links, to reaffirm our affection, to evoke our common past,” the Spanish king said in his speech at San Juan’s city hall.
“It should also serve for us, without a doubt, to look forward to the future together, proud of the impact of the Hispanic community in the United States, with whom we feel very close.”
Romero handed Felipe VI the Key to the City in what the Spanish monarch described as an “endearing” and “emotional” gesture.
Italian explorer Christopher Columbus first arrived in Puerto Rico in 1493 on an expedition sponsored by the Catholic monarchs of Spain.
Spanish explorer and conquistador Juan Ponce de Leon founded the first Spanish colony, Caparra, on the island in 1508, which 13 years later was moved to what is now San Juan.
“Spain brought its language, its culture, its creed, and with all this, it contributed values and principles such as the foundations of international law or the conception of universal human rights,” Felipe VI added.
A day before the official visit, a group of unknown vandals toppled a statue of Ponce de Leon, who was the first governor of Puerto Rico, in Plaza San Jose, a downtown square in San Juan.
The fall left the steel statue broken in half, with its base and legs severed from its upper section.
But mayor Romero told local media after visiting the plaza that the statue, which was erected in the 19th century, will be repaired and reinstalled on its pedestal later on Monday.
Romero, who told local media that taxpayer funds will be allocated to fix the statue, blamed the act of vandalism on “some criminals” and said he doesn’t understand what message the perpetrators were trying to send.
During his visit to the Caribbean island, Felipe VI will take part in an economics forum bringing together Spanish and Puerto Rican businesses.EFE