The arrival of Christopher Columbus and the colonization gave rise to statements that have little to do with the reality, from which the conquerors and their descendants sought to justify themselves.

That, if it were not for Columbus’ feat, we would not be here today. That European weapons’ superiority made the conquest looks like a tour. That the “Spanish” (as if Spain were only one nation) subdued the “indigenous people” (as if hundreds of cultures were only one reality). That the conquerors were philanthropists,carriers of civilization, or that the conquered peoples were almost angelic beings, incapable of doing evil (evil deeds). That the synthesis that emerged from the “encounter” between the two groups (the so-called “races”) was carried out in a balanced, egalitarian and positive way. Not to mention the myth that attributes the Latin America backwardness and dependence to its conquest by the Spanish, Portuguese or Italian peoples who transferred to the continent their “culture very little accustomed to the work”, unlike the United States, “civilized” by the “entrepreneurs and serious” Protestant Anglo-Saxons.

Although they were created and fed by sectors that compete with each other, all these myths have something in common: the ignorance or denial of the capitalist character of the conquest of America. Precisely, none of the trends that raise these groundless historical statements has the will to break with capitalism, even though they, very rarely, dedicate some repudiation speeches to capitalism.

This lack of knowledge about the facts, this limitation, cause that none of the myths resist to the objective analysis, in the light of historical facts, an analysis more than necessary to understand and change the history – and the present – of our continent.

These are some of the myths as common as old, about the European arrival in America and its consequences: 

America was conquered by the superiority of European weapons. It is true that European military technology was superior, but it is also true that the only unquestionable European advances were in the territories of the great Inca and Aztec States or faced with isolated tribes, and, even though,  not without great resistance. It was this way because, once recovered from the surprise, the native combatants developed techniques, tactics and strategies to neutralize and beat the European weapons, to the extent of using the own European weapons as well as developing, with supreme skill, one of the most important weapons: the horse. 

Nor did lack, among the natives, brilliant military leaders or examples of heroism. Thus, in 1824 – the year of the end of Spanish domination – the Amazon, the Chaco and the Patagonia, that is, somewhat around half of South America, remained in native hands. Similar situation was taking place in North America. But why then, nevertheless, the indigenous resistance was not able to win? Simply because the conquerors were driven by an unstoppable historical force: the development of modern capitalism, which absorbed and transformed everything in its path.

If it were not for Columbus, we would not be here. This myth mixes the reality that Columbus’ voyages have integrated the American continent to the global context with the belief that we Americans are direct and pure descendants of Europeans, product of the conquerors will of populating the continent.

The truth is that, at no time, Columbus, the Catholic kings or their successors had the slightest interest in populating South America: they were only looking for goods to place them in the European market, especially gold and silver. The logic of milking the continent as if it were a cow produced a certain type of settlement by introducing slaves or enslaving the natives that they managed to subdue. This is the opposite of what is said in the old myth that Columbus’s crusade began “America’s civilization”. As to the miscegenation between Europeans and natives, this was carried out as a product of sexual violence suffered by indigenous women, not as a desirable and positive development. The existence of such miscegenated population is a reason for discrimination to the present day, belying so the official myths of “the race day”, “day of the meeting among cultures”, “day of the respect for cultural diversity”, etc.

Indigenous people good, European bad. Many defenders of the native people show the pre-Columbian America almost like a land without evil, a paradise on Earth. But the reality is that almost all native peoples had confrontations with each other. There were even large states ruled by elitist castes that subdued entire ethnic groups, which in many cases resisted violently. In fact, it has probably been social and power struggles within these complex societies. This explains the ease with which some conquerors formed alliances with native people in their invading campaigns, which contributed to the decline of indigenous America.

“Spaniards” against “Indians”. This myth does the same misleading generalization to both cases. Assigning hundreds of cultures that lived on this continent with the same characteristics, as if they were one only entity, the Eskimos and the Caribbean, the Iroquois and the Quechua, is as false as to assert that America was plundered by “Spain”. It was the Spanish crown the political entity responsible for the looting of most of the continent, not the entirety of the Spanish people. Indeed, in the long run this plunder ended up by damaging entire peoples of Spain such as the Catalan, Galician and Basque, who, up to the present day, are oppressed nationalities by the Castilian and monarchical centralism.

The backwardness of Latin America is due to its colonization by peoples culturally unused to work. There is the tendency to suggest that the backwardness situation of our countries is the result of having been colonized by southern European peoples, or because they have not “digested” well the “African-indigenous” elements, whereas the Yankees have advanced because they are rooted in Anglo-Saxon and Germanic-Scandinavian origins, in other words, the Yankees’ root comes from the white race. But the cause of poverty in our countries is the wealth of our natural resources, which the colonizers and their heirs of the native bourgeoisie dedicated themselves to explore and bring to market almost without adding value to them. In the Yankee case, the north of the country has evolved from a colony of independent peasants – who formed a solid domestic market because they had no raw materials to offer to the world market – until they developed navigation and manufacture and conquered the independence and its current power; not without first defeating the “Latin American” part within its own nation: the proslavery and agrarian South.

“It is necessary to leave behind these happenings buried by history, etc.” Some brushstrokes of institutional political correctness will not erase the facts. Racism, the situation in which the natives live, the backwardness of our countries have their roots in the cause and the consequence of October 12th: the world capitalism that relegates our countries to the plundered condition. The looting of America and the enslavement wars against American natives continue (these natives today are ourselves, no matter how white and Euro-descendants we are). The plunder and the enslavement continue because our countries are dominated by a social class which participates in this looting that Columbus began. The task of rupture with the Columbus legacy started by the revolutionary patriots of the nineteenth century was truncated by the social sectors that have largely remained in power in our countries. It is not possible to close a wound that still bleeds, the racism will not end while the divisions and boundaries that were imposed against us to better dominate us, are not torn down. October 12th (the Spanish America independence day) will continue to be a day of mourning while our countries continue prostrated and being plundered. The task of conquering freedom for our continent follows fully current in the struggle for the second and definitive independence that will complete the formal independence that happened nearly two centuries ago.

And this second independence, a task reserved for the workers and oppressed peoples of the continent, will be the starting point to put an end to the system born out of the October 12 independence, which put the continent’s wealth and the lives and freedom of millions of people at the service of the unbridled pursuit of profit: capitalism. It will be possible to talk about “meeting” and “respect for diversity” only when, on the ruins of this injustice transformed in world order, stand up a new society on the basis that each person can give according to his/her capabilities and receive according to his/her needs: a socialist world.