What do we celebrate on October 12? | Vladimir Acosta

The great historical dates are usually clear because they usually mark definite facts or make net cuts. But there are those that, because they serve different and even opposing interests that persist over time, or because they have several readings that never cease to collide, are confusing and contradictory from their very origin. And I do not think there is another more contradictory, confusing and convoluted than that of October 12, 1492. The only thing that is indisputable on that date is that it recreates the arrival, in three ramshackle caravels, of some lost, hungry and desperate Spanish sailors who They were on the brink of mutiny, on a small and insignificant island almost peripheral to this gigantic continent, of which neither the lost Spaniards nor their admiral, a certain Columbus, almost unknown by then, had the slightest idea that it existed; and that still could not be seen. But it is that October 12 does not remain in that first accidental and peaceful meeting of Spaniards and the American population, but refers to its direct consequence: to their conversion in the brutal Spanish conquest of almost all of this America, to the massacre, cultural destruction and subjection of the American indigenous populations, and the conversion of Spain into a huge and powerful empire.

And for more than a century, the countries of this America that for three centuries were their colonies, we celebrate that date as our own, glory of Spain, because our ruling classes, servile of Europe and worshipers of the European, made us enter the celebration of that Conquest as recipients of what the Spanish would have brought to this America: the Castilian language, the civilization they embodied and the religion that was theirs, Christianity, the only true religion. It happens that they did not know another language; that with the superior weapons and the plagues that they also brought, they massacred the natives and destroyed their cultures; And that by force they imposed on them that one true religion that, by the way, a few decades after the Spanish arrived, in that Christian Europe of theirs in the sixteenth century, with the Reformation they split into two true religions, both Christian, different and furious enemies. , who spend two centuries killing each other furiously and who end up dividing Europe into two halves: one Christian Popish, and the other Christian Protestant.

But October 12 has only been celebrated since the end of the 19th century. In the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries there was no Spanish or European celebration of that date. There was no interest or space for it. In 1592, Spain took stock of its American conquest and organized the colonial exploitation of the continent that it had conquered by subjecting and massacring American peoples, weapons and New Testament in hand. In 1692, weakened by European conflicts, Spain had somewhat loosened the reins in America and was enduring its increasing decline. In 1792 there was nothing more absurd than celebrating Spanish colonial discoveries in a Europe in the midst of the French Revolution, with a United States that had just achieved its independence from England aided by Bourbon France and Spain, and the first indications of possible similar rebellions against the dominance of the latter in its Spanish America.

The great celebration of October 12 and of the discovery and conquest of America is that of the 19th century, a celebration of colonialist Europe that is at its peak and dominates the rest of the world. Our governments do not count and the United States does not participate. They are blond, discovered by Vikings, they are about to declare themselves an Empire and will soon attack Spain to wrest Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines from it.

Starting in the 20th century, the date is celebrated in our countries as an official holiday and with successive, cynical, false or misleading names. The first was the name of Race Day, the day of the triumph of the white race over the others, the inferiors. And the unusual thing is that our supposedly sovereign countries celebrated that racism for decades. It is then changed to the manipulative name Discovery Day. It is true that when two totally separate societies that have evolved suddenly meet one day, there is discovery. But this is mutual and not just one of them. If it is a question of comparable societies in population, organization and armament, both can choose an agreement or prefer the war. But if the difference in these areas is enormous and clearly favors one, in this case the Spaniard over the indigenous, the former assaults and conquers the latter, who from discoverer becomes discovered, that is, makes him pass from subject to object, and by overcoming him, he makes him his servant or his slave. This is exactly what happened in our America after October 12. But by 1992, the fifth centenary of the Conquest, the Latin American critics to date were enormous and our indigenous populations had grown greatly in strength and in conscience. Out of prudence, Spain preferred to call it the Day of the Meeting of Two Worlds, a ridiculous and hypocritical name. In our countries it was rightly said that Spain wanted to call an encounter what had been a clash; and in Spain itself, a Spanish group protesting under the slogan of I shit on the fifth centenary.

The last attempt, this time ours, honest and patriotic, but also erroneous, has been the idea of ​​turning October 12 into its opposite, into the Day of Indigenous Resistance. Despite his good intentions and his defense of indigenism, this is a double mistake that I drew attention to from the beginning.

Historical error because the meaning of a definite, real date cannot be changed to its opposite. Napoleon did not win Waterloo nor did Sucre lose Ayacucho. There was no indigenous resistance in 1492. And that first October 12 would in any case be the Day of indigenous naivety. The inhabitants of the island of the Bahamas where the Spaniards arrived were waiting for them, they celebrated their arrival without knowing what awaited them, and they brought them water and fruits. Out of prudence, the Spaniards treated them well, gave them useless red bonnets, and several of them, who wore gold nose rings, exchanged them for broken plates or balls to guess. And similar pictures were reproduced in the following months.

Political error because despite its good intention it maintains our governments and our peoples, and especially the indigenous people, who do not want to celebrate their naivety but their rebellion, tied to the Spanish colonial festival, which Spain continues to celebrate with pride through colonialist slogans, flags and military parades, while we intend to make of it what it was not.

Indigenous resistance begins shortly after, on the island of Española. Before returning to Spain, Columbus left part of his crew in it, had a fort built for that, and left. The Spaniards soon began to run over the natives and rape their wives. Fed up with these abuses, Caonabó, cacique de la Maguana, today the land of present-day Haiti, reunites his tribe and at the head of it, at the beginning of 1493, assaults the fort, burns it, and kills all the Spaniards. That was the beginning of the indigenous resistance. Resistance that in the following decades will reproduce with other indigenous heroes throughout the American continent as the brutal Spanish conquest advances.

We should leave on October 12, remembering that indigenous resistance, which covered all of this America, which was and is American glory, which was a heroic fight against oppression, making each country ours, and better if we do it all together, to remember and honor to those indigenous heroes, but let it be far from the symbolic date of Spanish colonialism.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.