I still have the memory of when I was in school, how the discovery of America was celebrated on October 12 of each year (or Columbus Day) and how we held cultural events to commemorate that historical date when the Spanish they arrived at what for them were “the Indies” in that mission led by Christopher Columbus with his huge ships: the Niña, the Pinta and the Santa María, to evangelize and teach Spanish to the indigenous people.
It is tremendous to look back and be aware of how centuries and centuries later that story continued to be offered intact without being questioned and how now in Spain I witness the most absurd and delusional justification by a sector of the Spanish elite of what was the colonizing process and its consequences.
Spanishness? What is that concept? A narrative that has been built on the bases of plunder, torture, the enslavement of millions of Africans and the genocide of indigenous peoples to generate an image of greatness, strength, and empire; something that a Spanish sector wants to keep alive and that the right wing boldly capitalizes on with racist speeches that are applauded and defended in the streets and in institutions. The curious thing is that in the colonization there never existed such an idea of ”Hispanicness” as the right defends, but rather a looting initiative sponsored by the Spanish crown at the expense of whatever it was for the indigenous peoples; with people like Hernán Cortes disobeying orders from the crown and doing what he wanted, invading and looting on their own because the objective was none other than to obtain gold and territories.
That is to say, it is not only a celebration that is sustained in a lie, because neither to carry religion and Spanish as a generous gesture were the true objective of the colonizers; neither the theft of wealth and the genocide was done in the name of the Spanish flag – which obviously did not even exist -; Rather, today that concept of “Hispanicness” is not questioned at all about the damage caused and how it installed a system of racial and colonial domination and exploitation. Something to which numerous studies of history and anthropology that explain that slavery survived in Spain, -yes, in the peninsula- even after it was prohibited in 1837, until well into the nineteenth century and that it was even when more economic returns reached.
The consequences of that colonial, racial and patriarchal regime we see today on TV or on social networks with statements like those of Aznar and Ayuso that border on stupidity and ignorance, but that are so applauded and credible by so many in Spain, that are dangerous. And they are so because they are protected under the same system that allows racist attacks to continue to remain in impunity, that police controls continue to be carried out based on ethnic profiles, that, against the opinions of international human rights organizations, there are still prisons in Spain for issues of administrative irregularity for migrants, that a system of foreigners subsists that makes the access of rights to millions of people almost impossible. There is a system that allows all this and it is no coincidence.
That civilization that they claim to have brought us with the “discovery” is equivalent to the progress that they are now selling to us through extractive multinationals, which leave behind environmental and economic crises for the inhabitants of the countries where they arrive and who also know it. we have to thank. What a tremendous national complex, to live in that permanent need to be reaffirming their ability to oppress others to build a national identity, as if Spain had nothing else to offer and as if being embraced by the flag was the only way to be a “true Spanish”.
It is necessary to rewrite history, reread it, see it critically; assume what happened and be able to walk towards the dismantling of that painful and colonial heritage. We are not going to be silent in the face of expletives and lies; we are not going to let the history continue to be told by the colonizers. This “Hispanicness” is ashamed, clumsy and cynical. Genocide, slavery, looting and racism are not reasons for which a country should be proud. On October 12 there is nothing to celebrate.