On October 12, the Day of Hispanity, of the Race, of the Indigenous Peoples, of the Indigenous Resistance or simply of the Discovery of the two Worlds is celebrated.
Despite the fact that more than 500 years have passed since the voyage of Christopher Columbus, this date and its meaning cannot dock in the port of Concord and it is shipwrecked in the sea of controversy. For many, it all comes down to whether or not to ask for forgiveness for the acts carried out during the conquest of America.
“I don’t think we have to apologize, the story is what it is. We have to admit that some things were done wrong, but I don’t think we have to apologize,” says Teresa García, 62, a Madrid resident, who observed a military ceremony on the occasion of the celebration of October 12, this Monday.
On the same day, the Latino community took to the streets of the center of the Spanish capital to celebrate with folk dances an October 12 that they consider theirs. It defends the historical heritage, the ethnic and cultural mix, and the pride of being part of Latin America.
“On October 12, the day of the discovery of America is celebrated, which was when the Spanish arrived in America. It was a contribution of cultures, in addition to ours, it meant adding more knowledge and being able to mix, interculturally and reach what we are now “, defends Dora Turin, of Latin American origin.
“Let’s forget hatred and resentments, let’s fight for unity and not for division,” agreed Roberto Turin, referring to the controversy.
The date has become a political and ideological pulse, in which even Pope Francis has had to do. The pontiff has exhorted Spain to apologize for the excesses of the conquest. For some experts, such as María Saavedra Inaraja, historian at CEU San Pablo University, the commemoration, whatever it is called, should be centered on his legacy.
“The best comparison for the American colonization by Spain is what the Romans did with Spain, they gave us an identity, they gave us a culture, a language, because it is a bit of what Spain brings to America,” he argues.
Carlos Malamud, professor of American History at the Spanish National Distance Education University and principal researcher for Latin America at the Elcano Royal Institute, believes that “celebrating Hispanidad does not make much sense, but it does remember that we are all part of a community social and cultural and that the ties that unite us go beyond historical recriminations “.
But the conquerors didn’t just bring new knowledge to America. The recognition of the indigenous genocide is a pending issue when this legacy is studied.
“What are we going to celebrate? What’s more, we believe that no one should celebrate or commemorate this date. What must be done at this time is an acknowledgment of the damage caused by the horrors committed because what the Spanish Empire brought to our peoples was not civilization and progress, it was a regime of terror, it was a regime of barbarism, “condemns Paula Guerra, a Latina and activist against racism in Spain.
Should Spain apologize? Should October 12 be commemorated? These are questions that do not reach a consensus, especially when the issue is trapped in political polarization and populist discourses on both sides of the Atlantic.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.