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West Coast Cities Temper Celebration With Reflection

August 12, 1992

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) _ Perhaps it’s just as well Columbus never made it to the West Coast.

First, the city of Berkeley decided not to give him his day. It renamed Oct. 12 Indigenous Peoples Day on the grounds that American Indians find little to celebrate in European conquest.

Now the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria - replicas of the ships that carried Columbus to the Americas - won’t be visiting West Coast ports because of a lack of money.

″It’s a terrible disappointment,″ said Jose Tono Martinez of Spain ’92, which organized the U.S. trip of the replica fleet built by the Spanish government.

Some won’t be sorry to miss the wooden ships and their tribute to Columbus and his crew. ″They brought terror to the Americas,″ said Tony Gonzalez of the International Indian Treaty Council.

Stephanie Cincotta, co-chair of San Francisco’s Columbus Quincentenary, said the no-show is disappointing but may be for the best, removing what could have been a nucleus for protest.

In fact, Cincotta changed the name of her office from Quicentennial Jubilation Commission for the same reason, deciding that ″jubilee and genocide don’t go hand in hand.″

″The Columbus celebration in the Bay area will be noted for its realistic approach,″ she said.

In Los Angeles, observances are also low-key, although county deputy protocol chief Ginger Barnard said events won’t have quite the same tenor as Northern California, where ″Berkeley has a unique attitude.″

The replica fleet’s tour ended July 31 in Boston. Spain ’92 officials hoped to visit San Francisco and San Luis Obispo in October, Los Angeles in November, and San Diego and San Juan de Capistrano in December.

But getting the ships to California meant barging them through the Panama Canal. That would have cost $850,000, money that Spain ’92 couldn’t afford to add to its already sizable investment and couldn’t raise from California’s recession-battered cities, Martinez said.

With or without the ships, Northern California’s retake on Columbus Day has had an effect.

At the North Beach Chamber of Commerce in San Francisco, Marsha Garland said the mood is subdued this year.

The chamber decided to emphasize 1992 as the ″year of the immigrant,″ she said, but ″we’re a little disappointed that, as a culture, the Italians are now being inhibited from celebrating their event.″

Martinez was unruffled by the Berkeley brush-off. Still, he said it would be a mistake to exclude benefits of Columbus’ voyage, such as the haven the New World offered.

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