“Ask for forgiveness? Ask for thanks for everything that the Spaniards left us»



Alfonso Borregodirect descendant of the Apache leader Geronimo, learned from a young age at school and in his family, settled in the El Paso region (Texas, USA), that the Spanish had come one day and had razed everything and killed all the men, women and children of his land. «The tribes tell you that the Spanish committed many atrocities and stole everything, but they have nothing written, nothing consistent, it is simply a story that is in the oral tradition and that is how it is told generation after generation. And people don’t think, they don’t ask questions, they just repeat what they’ve heard,” he says in an interview with ABC.

That his famous ancestor Geronimo spoke perfectly in Spanish

or discovering that the Indian reservations, the last redoubt of the Native Americans in the US, are still located today in states with names of Spanish origin, gave Borrego the first clues to discover a different story from the one he had been told. “The Americans came sweeping up all the Indians from the East. like Custer, which has a lot of movies and tributes. The Indians were moving, while they were chasing them until they were in reservations. That is the reality, but people do not change the focus, because since childhood they have been told that the Spanish killed all their ancestors », he recalls.

American, Mexican, Apache, Hispanic, frontiersman, mestizo… Listen to the voice of Alfonso Borrego, president of the Cultural Heritage Society Association of the Camino Real de Tierra Inside, it is very necessary in the midst of the total offensive initiated in North America against the statues, the symbols and the Spanish legacy. “Now there are people here talking about how Spaniards should ask for forgiveness. But what are you talking about? Ask for thanks because they left you all the buildings, the language, the technology, food and animals that were unknown in America, all done, ”considers the spokesman for an association, present in twenty municipalities in the southern United States. , which is dedicated to claiming the cultural importance of the route that linked Mexico City with Santa Fe for more than three centuries.

Apache warrior Geronimo in the late 19th century.
Apache warrior Geronimo in the late 19th century.

The Spanish remained as the villains of history for the indigenous people, the Mexicans and the Americans for the simple reason that they were the only ones who left the continent. “New Spain ended and Mexico began. And Mexico had to raise the country’s pride and nationalism. Who to blame? Well, the Spaniards, who were no longer here and did not care about defending their legacy », he points out. In his opinion, it was the English who acted against the natives with the rigor and violence attributed to the Spanish: “The difference between an English and a Spanish is that the English killed everyone.”

honor the blood

The cinematographic figure of Geronimo, a warlord who at the end of the 19th century wreaked havoc on the border between Mexico and the US, was linked to that of the last Apache to surrender. A war cry, from the American paratroopers, “Geronimooo!”, To romantically remind the free soul that he fought against the American army until he had no breath left, no hiding place in Mexico. His descendant no longer fights with rifles or axes, but rather with a writing pen and against a very different enemy, the distortion of history, but both have in common the mestizo roots that run through their veins. «When the Spaniards arrived here they mixed with the indigenous people. They are two cultures combining and creating things. That for me is a wonderful and beautiful thing », he proclaims.

Borrego, whose life moves between Texas and northern Mexico, considers that the current war against Spanish history in America goes beyond the old nationalist efforts or the ancient Anglo-Saxon mechanisms to pass the buck. «Since the 1980s, thought has been changing, asking to be more inclusive and toppling statues because such a character had slaves or killed so-and-so. But they won’t gain anything by throwing them away. They think that if they delete statues we will no longer see the history we had, but the reality is that we cannot go back. History precisely serves to remember what happened and the problems that have to be avoided”, he adds with his particular border Castilian.

Precisely as a reaction to the recent attacks on the Hispanic past, many Native Americans have begun to ask certain questions about their past: “More and more of us natives are sick and tired of being victims, of being involved in that group . That of Spain is also our heritage.

Miscegenation as a weapon

The descendant of Geronimo does not belong to any active tribe, but he is fed up with politicians speaking on behalf of indigenous populations. Just two days ago, Andrés Manuel López Obrador,president of Mexico, broke off relations, at least verbally, with Spain invoking a hodgepodge of political, economic and, once again, identity reasons related to the viceregal period and the treatment of indigenous people. The Tabascan politician, whose grandfather Joseph Obrador He was born in Ampuero (Cantabria), declared this Wednesday that “we are not a land of conquest” and returned to the fray with his campaign of historical revisionism.

The Royal Road of Inland.
The Royal Road of Inland.

-What do you think of López Obrador’s statements about the shared history of Spain and Mexico?

-He is the president of a nation and I am the president of a cultural association (laughs). I do not know what to say. Of course I don’t like him saying those things, and they already go several times. I work very hard to erase borders and that idea that we are different. Here we can have a physical wall, but that does not affect me. We are the same culture, the same history and the same heritage. To unite and have a joint relationship you have to work and stop saying those things. The president’s wife is a historian, or so they say, but she doesn’t help anything in the battle and only answers political questions.

-Would it help something if Spain apologized to the indigenous people?

They won’t win anything. Besides, who is going to apologize to whom? I say all the time in Mexico: “Look, what you have to do is keep the benefit left by the Spanish.” Where I live is where all the merchandise entered for 400 years from the south to the north. That is the story we should be talking about. Not that you apologize to me or I apologize to you.

-How do you convince those who believe that the Spanish were the destroyers of their world?

I don’t have to convince anyone. Is history. They are absolute facts. When I give my lectures, people don’t answer or reply to me. I say common sense things that people can touch, believe and see. If you look at the world we are in today, things are like that. If I say that the Spanish did not put the Indians in reservations, as many think, it is because the English did that. It is a fact.

-What differentiated the way of populating the Spanish from what the English did later?

-When the English arrived here, to the south, they asked themselves: who gave the Indians rifles and horses? Well, the Spanish! Because the natives did not have dealings with the Spanish, as we later had with the English, it is that we directly lived with them. We were part of the Spanish border. History is like that and you can’t erase or throw statues to deny it. Neither can this history be put on trial from current eyes.

“Hispanic mestizos are the largest group in the world. But we have to recognize that culture.”

-The key is in the merger?

-Look, the culture is mestizo and Spain already came with its miscegenation from Europe. We are all part of that culture. You don’t have to elevate one part more than the other. Hispanic mestizos are the largest group in the world. But we have to recognize that culture, what we are, in Peru, in Argentina, in Venezuela, in Costa Rica, in Mexico or in the Philippines. But, when they tell us from a young age that the worst of the worst were the Spanish, well, nobody wants to be part of that group.

-And how is this black legend about Spain reversed?

-The problem is that the educational system in the United States creates this thought and it costs a lot to change it. I teach at universities, institutes and schools telling what the Camino Real was and what the Spaniards did, but it is not in the plans. We here on the border are interested in this story, be it good, bad or average. If we all walk the path of truth there will be more peace. When I told it in Mexico at the end of the talk, people came to thank me. “I already know where my roots come from. Thank you,” they tell me. Because the reality is that nobody wants to be a descendant of the Spanish, because they are the worst.

-So we have to throw down the statues of the gringos?

-It does not mean with this that it is necessary to attack the English. No, because they also built many things and laws of the United States in which we live. I just say, it’s history, it can’t be used to hate each other. Learn! Learn the truth and let us all live in peace. Let’s accept the good and the bad. You have to spread the word.

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