Many in Spain celebrate National Day, October 12, as a day for all Spaniards to enjoy a Spanish display of military might, with marches and the waving of flags painted in blood and gold.

For many, today is not a day of celebration, but a time to remember the countless millions whose lives have been so badly affected by the arrival of one lost adventurer who found a small island in the ocean from the newly united kingdoms of Spain and their, more recently acquired, the first colonial conquests.

The Canary Islands were still four years away from full control, nearly 100 years after the Spanish first attempted to take possession of them. By 1492, the native population of Gran Canaria, the Canaria, had been largely subjugated, those who did not want to follow the example of their nobles and not convert being enslaved or simply killed. Catholic monarchs, whose minds were now set on new horizons, sent wave after wave of men on ships to eventually and brutally control the indigenous population with a complex and advanced culture that had been in the making for centuries if not thousands of years. Spain’s first Atlantic colony was founded. The cruelty and violence of this conquest set the meter and method of subsequent conquests…

The last true king of Gran Canaria, Guanarteme of Galdar, Tenesor Semidan, was fatally captured after only two years of fierce fighting. He was sent on a ship to appear before the monarchs on the peninsula, where he saw for himself the power, the weapons and the true number of the invaders.

After some time, with his wife and child taken from him as prisoners, he was returned to his island home, forced to make a terrible choice between his noble heritage, his people, his kingdom and his family. In what some historians now see as an attempt to avoid total annihilation, in the face of insurmountable odds, the last king of Galdara returned, converted, christened Fernando Guanarteme, forced to act as mediator with his nobles, peacemaker, collaborator and military adviser to the enemy, and diplomat – a negotiator for the very survival of the people, already tired and exhausted by disease, scarce food supplies and continuous attacks.

In the decades and centuries that followed, many of his own people saw him as nothing more than a traitor. After brutality, disease, murder and enslavement ended, Gran Canaria finally gave up its resistance after 5 long years of struggle to become a springboard for the conquest of other island nations, some of which would continue to struggle without success. for more than a decade.

It was against this background that an adventurer, perhaps of Portuguese origin, arrived in Gran Canaria in 1492. Ferdinand and Isabel were celebrating the expulsion of the last of the North Africans who had ruled Iberia for more than 700 years, ridding themselves, as they saw it, of Jews and Muslims who controlled the peninsula, the apocryphal “Reconquista” was complete, and now they were hungry for new lands, new conquests, and new routes to untold riches. The pattern for conquest was clearly laid out in the example of these “fortunate islands” and their people. The united kingdoms of Aragon and Castile now had a tried and tested system of transferring military power, government, agriculture, and commerce to distant and soon-to-be-discovered lands that were ripe in their eyes, as well as in the eyes of Rome. conquered, colonized and, allegedly, converted, for the glory of their God. Over the next century, Spain was to become the wealthiest superpower Europe had known for a very long time.

After Tenerife was subdued, when the conquerors were still conscious of their birthright and status, Fernando Guanarteme died under mysterious circumstances, never returning to Gran Canaria, his body buried in an unknown grave.

Contrary to popular belief, most sailors already knew that the Earth was not flat. Cristobal Colon (that’s Columbus to most English speakers) was not a hero, he almost certainly was not a Genoese. Although many may still celebrate him as the “Discoverer”, his voyages across the Atlantic significantly changed world history and sounded the death knell for millions upon millions for many centuries to come. His own brutality and the brutality of his men perpetrated some of the most horrific known crimes against a peaceful indigenous population, many of whose consequences are still incomparable and are felt today, still not understood, not healed.


Blood and gold. Further reading and simple extracts from Wikipedia:

Opposition to Columbus Day dates back to at least the 19th century, when anti-immigrant nativists sought to stamp out the celebration because of its association with immigrants and the Knights of Columbus. Some anti-Catholics feared it was being used to expand Catholic influence. The more widespread modern opposition to the actions of Columbus and Europeans against the Native American population did not gain much traction until the second half of the 20th century.

On his first voyage in 1492, he reached the New World instead of arriving in Japan as he thought, landing on an island in the Bahama archipelago that he named San Salvador. During three more voyages, he visited the Greater and Lesser Antilles, as well as the Caribbean coast of Venezuela and Central America, claiming them all for the Crown of Castile.

Columbus/Columbus is a European explorer credited with creating and documenting routes to the Americas, although he was preceded by a Viking expedition led by Leif Eriksson in the 11th century. Moreover, Columbus’ voyages led to Europe’s first lasting contact with the Americas, ushering in a period of exploration, conquest, and colonization that lasted several centuries. Thus, these voyages had a huge impact on the historical development of the modern Western world. He led the transatlantic slave trade and has been accused by some historians of starting the genocide of the indigenous people of Hispaniola. Columbus himself saw his achievements primarily in the light of the spread of the Christian religion.

The indigenous people he first encountered, probably Lucayan, Taino or Arawak, were peaceful and friendly. Noticing their gold ear ornaments, Columbus captured some of them and insisted that they guide him to the source of the gold.

In his journal dated October 12, 1492, he wrote about them:

“Many of the men I saw had scars on their bodies, and when I made signs to them to find out how it happened, they indicated that people from other nearby islands were coming to San Salvador to capture them; they defend themselves as best they can. I believe that people from the mainland come here to take them as slaves. They must be good and skillful servants, for they are very quick to repeat whatever we tell them. I think they could very easily be made Christians because they don’t seem to have any religion. If it pleases our Lord, when I leave, I will take six of them to Your Majesties so that they can learn our language.”

Columbus noted that their lack of modern weapons and metal-forged swords or pikes was a tactical vulnerability, writing, “I could conquer them all with 50 men and rule them as I pleased.”

There are many lines of criticism that are interrelated. One criticism relates primarily to the treatment of indigenous peoples during the European colonization of the Americas that followed Columbus’s discovery. Some groups, such as the American Indian Movement, argue that actions and injustices against Native Americans are masked by positive myths and the celebration of Columbus. These groups argue that Columbus’ legacy has been used to legitimize these actions.

Made governor of these new lands, reports of his tyranny grew. Columbus once punished a man found guilty of stealing corn by cutting off his ears and nose and then selling him into slavery. Evidence recorded in the report states that Columbus congratulated his brother Bartholomew on “protecting the family” when he ordered a naked woman to walk the streets and then cut out her tongue because Columbus was of low birth. The document also describes how Columbus suppressed riots and rebellion by the natives; he first ordered a brutal suppression of the protests, during which many natives were killed, and then displayed their dismembered bodies in the streets, trying to prevent further rebellion. “The government of Columbus was characterized by a form of tyranny,” Spanish historian Consuela Varela, who has seen the document, told reporters. “Even those who loved him had to admit the atrocities that took place.”

Since 1987, Spain has celebrated the anniversary of Columbus’s arrival in America as a National Day or National Day. Spain used to celebrate this day as Spain Day, highlighting Spain’s ties to the international Spanish-speaking community. In 1981, Hispanidad Day became a national holiday by royal decree. However, in 1987, the name was changed to Fiesta Nacional, and October 12 became one of the two national holidays, along with Constitution Day, December 6.

Spain’s “National Day” changed several times during various regime changes in the 20th century; setting it on Columbus International Day was part of a compromise between conservatives who wanted to emphasize the status of the monarchy and Spain’s history, and republicans who wanted to honor the growth of Spain’s democracy with an official holiday.

Since 2000, October 12 is also the Day of the Armed Forces of Spain, which is celebrated annually with a military parade in Madrid. However, apart from this, the holiday in Spain is not celebrated widely and enthusiastically; there are no other large-scale patriotic parades, marches, or other events, and the celebration is generally overshadowed by the Feast of Our Lady of the Staupa, or treated simply as a national day of rest and reflection.

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