“In 1492, the natives discovered that they were Indians, discovered that they lived in America, discovered that they were naked, discovered that sin existed, discovered that they owed obedience to a king and queen from another world and a god from another heaven, and that that god had invented guilt and clothing and had ordered that whoever worshiped the sun and the moon and the earth and the rain that washes it be burned alive. “
(October 12. The discovery. Of The children of the days. Eduardo Galeano)
They were savages, barbarians, and even cannibals who were civilized by us. They should be grateful that we have bequeathed culture, language and even religion to them. They could be exterminated or enslaved, but by royal decree they were granted the status of Subjects of the Crown, which implied the recognition of rights that prevented abuse, what’s more, there are even documents that prove that miscegenation was encouraged, not how it happened. in the British colonies in America that did not mix and that only killed Indians. It was not conquest or colonization, but liberation. And for all this, any good Spaniard can feel proud of this great civilizing feat, carried out with tinges of an epic feat.
This is, words more, words less, what we have heard in recent days from people like Díaz Ayuso, Toni Cantó or Pablo Casado himself, who has just celebrated his self-reaffirmation Convention, not to mention the lies spread from the official Vox Twitter account, which for example points out that Spain did not have colonies but “overseas provinces”.
There has been a kind of competition on the right and the extreme right over who is more proud than the other to be Spanish and of what our ancestors did in America, more than 500 years ago.
I am very sorry for Mr. Casado, but as a spectator of this media circus of historical distortion, I must award the Palme d’Or to Ayuso, by daring to question the very representative of Christ on Earth (according to the Catholic confession that she herself professes) , saying, and I quote literally: “I am surprised that a Catholic [refiriéndose al Papa], who speaks Spanish, speaks thus in turn of a legacy like ours, which was precisely to bring Spanish and, through the missions, Catholicism and therefore civilization and freedom to the American continent “.
Disciples of Aznar
They are catholic when the Church says what they want to hear and, when not, they do not accept a different opinion. This more than pride is being conceited and arrogant, it is believing oneself to be the absolute owners of the truth, even if the Pope himself tells them otherwise. How can it be seen that all of them are disciples of José María Aznar, who, by the way, marked the line to be followed by his acolytes by detracting from the legitimacy of the Pope’s gesture of forgiveness for being Argentine, that is, Latin American (questioning in passing the dogma of the infallibility of the Supreme Pontiff). And by the way, Aznar also mocked the Mexican president by pointing out: “And who tells us to ask for forgiveness? What’s your name? Andrés Manuel López Obrador ”, to add that“ if some things had not happened, you could not have been called what you are, nor could you have been baptized ”. For the life leader of the right and the extreme right, “the new communism in Latin America is called indigenismo. And indigenismo can only go against Spain ”.
At this point, it should be remembered that the original peoples of America did not ask to be evangelized, nor civilized, nor cultured. No one asked their opinion. Simply the conquerors planted themselves there one fine day, they took possession of those supposedly ownerless territories (no matter), in the name of God and the Crown, and through deception or warlike superiority made them subjects, forced to pay tribute and used this argumentative excuse to perpetrate one of the greatest plundering in the history of mankind, if not the greatest, melting works of art to turn into gold and silver coins, because the crown (always the crown) needed those metals to enlarge the empire.
For all this, we should not ask for forgiveness, of course not, but they should thank us, and also be grateful that they could have done worse if the English had arrived instead of the Spaniards.
The Pope asked for forgiveness
All this as a result of the fact that on September 27 the president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), no less than from the National Palace in Mexico, read a letter that was written on September 16 by the Pope Francisco to the presidency of the Conference of the Mexican Episcopate, regarding the bicentennial of the declaration of independence. In this letter the Pope states that “to strengthen the roots it is necessary to re-read the past, taking into account both the lights and the shadows that have shaped the history of the country. This retrospective look necessarily includes a process of purification of memory, that is, recognizing the mistakes made in the past, which have been very painful. For this reason, on various occasions, both my predecessors and myself have asked forgiveness for personal and social sins, for all actions or omissions that did not contribute to evangelization ”. The Pope knows this well, as a good Jesuit, a congregation expelled from America and the other territories of the Empire at the time of Charles III himself.
A year earlier AMLO sent the Pope a letter that highlighted the importance of both the Catholic Church and the Spanish Government recognizing that the memory of the conquest must be repaired through the forgiveness of violence and the extermination of native peoples. It is a good initiative, which highlights the role of memory and history, of how we approach the past to build the present and the future, but which has awakened the most ancient hatreds and the most crude arrogance.
Beyond the opinions and misrepresentations, the story is there, for those who want to read it, and it has been written centuries ago, with undeniable documents and facts. Suffice it to mention the name of Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas and his fight for indigenous rights and the abolition of the Encomienda. Who really wants to know, read his work Brief account of the destruction of the Indies, written by the friar himself in the middle of the 16th century, where the atrocities committed by the colonizers against the indigenous peoples are related.
It is worth remembering that, at that time and until much later, in Europe heretics were fried in oil, witch hunts were made and burned alive or practiced all kinds of refined torture at the hands of the Court of the Holy Office, everything which, of course, was also exported to America. It is true that some indigenous peoples made offerings to the gods and in some cases human sacrifices, but it was a practice that did not extend to all American peoples, far from it, nor did cannibalism. On the other hand, the torture to death of those who deviated from the path traced by the King or the Church was a widespread practice throughout Europe and we also leave the Americans as a “legacy”. For those who are interested, I recommend the book by Francisco Tomás y Valiente entitled Judicial torture in Spain. Or if someone prefers a classic of a lifetime, On Crimes and Punishments de Cesare Beccaria.
Another interesting aspect that is usually omitted, speaking of civilized, is that in America at that time there were three great empires, Azteca, Maya and Inca (these that Aznar does not just locate either territorially or ethnically), all with cities of hundreds of thousands of inhabitants. Tenochtitlán, for example, founded in 1325, had 200,000 inhabitants and was built in the middle of Lake Texcoco, something that even today would be a complex engineering work to match; from Tikal in present-day Guatemala or Machu Pichu in Peru, respectively. This, not to mention the pyramids, the solar and lunar calendar and a long etcetera. Meanwhile, in the seventeenth century, the Catholic Church forced Galileo Galillei to retract his heresy by stating that the Earth revolved around the Sun.
Right, far right and history
The truth is that I am glad of the interest that the right and the extreme right have shown in history. And boy, has it aroused passions. It seems that history does not matter to them until the official discourse in which they have always wanted to believe against all empirical evidence begins to be questioned.
The same happens with Historical Memory. For them, there is no need to talk about the Civil War and the Franco dictatorship, it is necessary to leave things as they are and look forward, so that the lies of the regime that they have always told and in which they have always wanted to believe prevail. And look at how they care about the history that as soon as they have been able to, they have replaced the Francoist street map by returning the name of Millán Astray to Maestra Justa Freire street.
Like every historical period and like life itself, there are always lights and shadows, nothing is black or white like the narrow mind of the right that today wants us to believe. Of course there was culture and a language and customs remained, but that does not remove all the atrocities committed that I myself, as a Spaniard, have no problem acknowledging. And this in the hope that these gestures serve so that today the indigenous peoples of America have greater respect for their rights to their culture, their language, their traditions, their own way of life, their territory and their ancestral rights.
I have said it many times and I reiterate it now: we have a lot to learn from indigenous peoples, from their worldview and their interaction in harmony with nature. They are the main supports of that one. We Westerners, the civilized and civilizers, are leading the planet into ecological disaster by ravaging its natural resources uncontrollably. The rest is supremacism and therein lies the danger of feeling pride.
Baltasar Garzón is president of FIBGAR. This note was originally published in infoLibre.