On October 12, opinions for and against the commemorations for the so-called “discovery” of America arose with passion. The date has been celebrated throughout the history of Spain and Latin America. However, in recent years, the tribute has shown differences and proposals for resignification in different countries. In addition, in some cases the importance of the day is disappearing, some historians emphasize.
Hispanic Day, Race or Indigenous Peoples Day? Traditionally, and according to history books, October 12, 1492 is recognized as the day that Christopher Columbus discovered America. Action followed by the arrival of the Spanish to the continent.
But behind the story, acts of violence against aboriginal communities, transgression of human rights, repopulation, adaptation of customs, language and religion, among others, stand out. Facts that contrast in the commemoration of the date, depending on where you look at it.
The results of Columbus’s voyage are shipwrecked amid discord. More than 500 years later, the commemorations have taken on various connotations, especially in recent years.
Mexico and Bolivia are unmarked from the exaltation to “the conquest” of October 12
In Latin America, some governments have introduced changes that have made it clear that the date is not a reason to pay tribute to the colonizers, but rather an opportunity to vindicate indigenous peoples and their struggle to claim their rights, wealth and territories. To “decolonize” the narratives that silence indigenous voices, the authorities of some countries in the region point out.
Mexico, under the Administration of the current president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has stipulated as of this year that the commemoration becomes the ‘Day of the multicultural nation’.
Beyond a symbolic definition, the measure is in addition to actions such as the removal of a statue of Christopher Columbus in Mexico City. Instead, feminists have erected the figure of a woman with a clenched fist pointing toward the glass and steel skyscrapers of Paseo de la Reforma, the wide avenue that exemplifies Mexican capitalism.
“The statues of Columbus began to be questioned for precisely the same reason that they had been built: because they were symbols of Western domination, of Catholic religious domination, they were symbols of an idea somewhat rooted in history in which they were He said that America should be ruled by white men, ”explained historian Federico Navarrete.
In due course, the statue will be replaced by an indigenous woman from the Olmec civilization, during the pre-classic period of Mesoamerica, announced the mayor of the city, Claudia Sheinbaum, an ally of AMLO.
The change is at the center of a controversial national debate. There are those who are opposed to considering it a blow to historical memory and highlight the contributions and mixtures of cultures and knowledge for the continent to change to what it is today. Voices calling for concrete changes have also been raised.
“In the 21st century, it is not enough for the government to say that it represents other groups, but it has to open voices to others. That is, if it is going to build a monument to indigenous women, it seems clear to me that there must be some participation of indigenous women in the process ”, emphasizes Navarrete.
Meanwhile, in Bolivia, the date is celebrated as the ‘Day of decolonization’, a change introduced during the term of former President Evo Morales, the country’s first indigenous president.
The nation remembers the struggle of the native peoples against what Morales called “imperialist rule.” Previously, each October 12 was celebrated as ‘Race Day’.
Spain, between a national holiday and the exaltation of colonization by the right
The date has become a political and ideological pulse in which the Spanish Government, the different political banks, including the extreme right that exalts a colonizing approach, and even Pope Francis have been involved, who has exhorted this country to apologize. for the excesses of the so-called conquest.
In Spain, the nation of origin of the so-called “colonizers” for some; and of the current customs and language of the Latin American nations, for others, October 12 is a holiday and with it the national celebrations stand out.
The Spanish monarchy, led by King Felipe and Queen Letizia, attended the traditional military parade, accompanied by the Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, opposition politicians and members of the Spanish Olympic team.
“This October 12 we claim what unites us, what makes us great as a society, what makes Spain a welcoming, open, diverse country. Let’s celebrate our commitment, solidarity, cooperation, multilateralism. Let’s celebrate who we are ”, highlighted Sánchez.
On the same day, members of the Latino community took to the streets of the center of the capital to celebrate what they consider to be a heritage, the ethnic and cultural mix, and the pride of being part of Latin America. Others, wearing indigenous clothing and anti-colonial slogans, also took to the streets to express their disagreement with the celebration.
On the other hand, in the most radical wing of the right wing of Spanish politics, the Vox party claimed pride in Hispanicness and feeling benefited from those who discovered “the New World.”
“How proud to feel we are heirs of those who discovered the New World, of those who put an end to the genocide of the Indian peoples, of those who invented the Empire of Human Rights, of those who gave the world the greatest work of universal brotherhood that has ever contributed. no people ”, said in a public ceremony, the leader of VOX, Santiago Abascal.
Amid the discrepancies, the historic date remains caught between political polarization and controversy from both sides of the Atlantic.
With AFP and local media