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Day of Death of Diverse Cultures

Today at school, we celebrated yet another anniversary of the beginning to what would lead to one of the bloodiest, cruelest, and senseless genocides known in our history: ‘The discovery of America’.

By Rudy and Paz

‘Who are these people?’. ‘I dont know, but they say we have mass destruction weapons’. ‘Oh no’.

When I was in primary school, this day was known to us as just that, ‘the day America was discovered’. We practised for months to put up a little performance for the whole school, when the moment usually portrayed was the moment when ‘Colon and the indigenes first met’. Sounds like the start of a love-at-first-sight movie, huh?; that is, if we count abuse, rape, mass murder of their children, and constant torture as part of a nice lovely relationship.

When I entered, say, fourth grade, teachers at school were pleased to announce how the commemorative day had been renamed to ‘Day of the Race‘. Now, I know this might sound a little wrong for some of you born-english speakers, but race isn’t such a strong word in our language as it is in yours -which does not by any means disregard the existent and beating racism even the latino community has.
So, now our little performances changed slightly; instead of portraying the ‘conquerors’ and ‘discoverers’ as awesome heroes, we were also starting to see the other side of this history -well, kinda. But it was still kind of an improvement. Indians weren’t just some dumb and ignorant bland characters anymore: we got to see a little of them.

But real change to the way we were used to see this day really happened when it was renamed ‘The Day of Clash of Cultures”. Now, that’s something. Now, instead of just remembering just that sole moment of contact, we got to see this cultures with more depth, and I actually got the chance to study about the people before Colon on this land for the first time -utterly boring at that time, but I really appreciate having had that opportunity now-a-days.

People still kind of thought it was a little unrespectful, or odd, so a few years ago this day got a new identity: ‘Day of Cultural Diversity’.
We now thoroughly study the past of this land, and try to come to terms with the fact that, hey, europeans weren’t the first ones to ever live here, which was kind of jerky from our part.

Although I do think this went through some improvements, I think we will never be able to say we’ve tackled this problem from the right angle until we’ve come to terms with another huge fact: what happened here was a TRAGEDY.
To say it in numbers, when Spain first got here, there were about 80 million aborigines living in all America. By the time of the next count, about a century later, we were left with 3 million. Three fucking million. From eighty. So about 77 million people died during that time, and I think we can all agree it wasn’t because of ‘unfortunate situations’, or ‘many many wars’ -though wars did take their nice number out of it.

Oh no, that’s not even the worst part. What really got these people dying  were things like slavery, forced work in very unhealthy situations, torturous lifes, sicknesses from the europeans, alcohol… All these people had to die and go through all that in order for the Kingdoms of Spain, Portugal, France, Holland, and England to prosper.

From the moment the new people set foot on the new land, they automatically assumed that was just there for them to take as much advantage of it as they could. EVERYTHING there was served for them, and therefore belonged to them. The land, the nature, and yes, even the people in it -men and women they didn’t even consider human at first.

They raped this land and stripped it away from its dignity and beauty for the sake of ‘progress’ and ‘civilization’ -really, if you just stopped to read about this amazing cultures for a second, then you’d even wonder WHO the real civilised person was, which is what I do.

I don’t know about you, people, but I have nothing to celebrate on this day. I do a lot of reflexing, remembering, and reading, to try to honour these past cultures -something which I never truly accomplish. It’s up to everyone to interpretate this date however they want. But, do bear in mind, I’ll feel sick every time I see someone acting as Colon the hero.

Thanks for reading.

-Mila.

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5 thoughts on “Day of Death of Diverse Cultures

  1. Unfortunately I doubt the full magnitude of the brutality of the European “discovery” of the Americas will ever be fully appreciated – it’s not in countries that have done a better job recognizing their indigenous past than Argentina, as low as that bar is. Here in North America, “Columbus Day” is still a holiday.

    It’s a step forward however that Argentina is finally recognizing and studying it’s indigenous past. I studied ethnic identity in Argentina for a paper a few years ago and there’s been a step forward over the past decade and especially over the past few years. Finally the remaining indigenous people in Argentina are getting opportunities to study in their traditional languages. Hopefully Argentina continues to take steps acknowledging their wrongs (especially the brutal conquest of the desert) and acknowledge the native influences.

    We can’t change the past but we can’t forget and lose what we have left of indigenous cultures.

    • You are completely right; there’s still a lot to do, culturally speaking, here in Argentina on this subject. Even in Buenos Aires’ own structure, you can see how hard this will be, though. For example, just blocks away from Julio A. Roca’s statue (the president that organized the massacre of the southern indigenous people), there’s a statue in honor to the indigenous women. This might seem like something little and silly, but it is in the every day details that we see the double speech some people here still have.
      We need to make a bigger step forward, to actually start not only appreciating, but accepting these cultures, with its differences and characteristics.
      Forgetting is a forbidden word here in Argentina. Or, at least, it should be, after everything that happened in the last century.
      Anyways, thanks for reading and for such a great reply!
      -Mila.

      • Glad to leave some comments, always interested in hearing opinions within Argentina, especially beyond the cliches that dominate the discussion. Plus my Castellano is rusty so it’s nice to be able to discuss these things.

      • I’m glad you always do.
        Hey, if you ever need to practice your Castellano, don’t hesitate to ask! I’ll be glad to help.
        Best of wishes!
        -Mila.

  2. The same goes for most of the Indian sub-continent……and in fact most of the world!! Being from Bangladesh by birth but being raised in London – I could never understand my elders hatred for the English. As I got older i realized why. These countries you mention raped and pillaged most of the world to get to where they are. And they continue to do so in any way possible-now it’s economic policy, IMF, WTO and other such M’F***** organisations that brutally pillage every resource they can get their hands on. Where will this lead to?? I’m sorry but one day we will all die and leave all this behind!! I for one live a life of conscience and the more aware and awake people become, the more change is possible. I even foresee this in my life time!!

    Thank you for your thought provoking and so true post!!!

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