Falling Back, 29 & 30. Remembering What Was Lost

It was a holiday yesterday, the Día de la Hispanidad, better known as Columbus Day in the U.S. Here, it's a patriotic day, more than anything to celebrate Spain, with a military parade and flyover in Madrid, which the King and the government ministers preside. This year, there was the bare bones of one, celebrated in the large courtyard in front of the royal palace in Madrid. But all the dignitaries showed up, even Republican, quite-left-of-center Pablo Iglesias, leader of Podemos. He had no other choice, however, since he and his party form part of the government. Anything else would have been exulted in by extremist-right Vox.

Which held its own parade in the rich neighborhood of Salamanca, in Madrid. There, the neighbors and supporters drove around in their cars, beeping horns, waving giant flags, and crying out their signature cry of "Gobierno dimisión!" to show their displeasure. At the end of last week, they also held protests against the regional state of alarm decreed by the central government. There was one who cried out in front of a television camera, "Putos demócratas de mierda! Viva Hitler!" (Damned democrats! Long live Hitler!), just spitting his hatred onto the reporter who had asked for a statement, no mask in sight. 

So much "patriotism". The day supposedly celebrates the shared culture between Spain and Latin America, that's why it's called Día de la Hispanidad, the day of the Spanish world. But the reason that that shared culture exists is because of an imposed colonialism that only benefited Spain. We got the gold, the silver, the commodities, and the slaves. They got slavery, the loss of their own culture, diseases such as smallpox, and the imposition of a God they didn't need. 

Columbus was a smart man. He knew the world was round, and had done his calculations. He went to the monarchs most likely to finance his trip. In exchange, he got renown, power, and money. He didn't do it for altruistic reasons. He did it for what moves most men; money. He didn't care about the indigenous people he met. He cared about how to exploit his discovery the most to earn the most from it. That he didn't actually reach India was a thorn in his side, because the riches of India were widely known. In the end, though, he achieved what he had set out to find. And an entire continent faced the imposition of strange customs they had not asked for. 

What should be celebrated on this day is the diversity that made up the American continent before we stumbled onto it. We should celebrate the myriad of languages, of histories, of world views, that we chose to shove aside in our misguided belief in our superiority. There are no superior or inferior people; there are different people that contribute to the beauty of what we can achieve.

Life continues. 

Dominican Republic, Zona Colonial, Relax


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