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October 12th – the “Discovery” of America and Official History Printer friendly page Print This
By Eduardo Galeano | Notiindígena
Translated from Spanish and edited by Arturo Rosales – Axis of Logic
Friday, Oct 13, 2017

Wednesday, 12 October 2017, is an opportune moment to remind ourselves about the “discovery” of America, 525 years ago. It is a date still celebrated in the Spanish speaking world as “Race Day” or, more accurately in Venezuela, as “The Day of Indigenous Resistance” by a decree of 10 October 2002 emitted by Comandante Hugo Chávez.*

One of Latin America’s most astute observers of history and the Americas was the Uruguayan writer, Eduardo Galeano (d. 2015) who expresses better than most historians the ridiculous irony and mendacity of “Race Day”. “Slaughter Day” would be more appropriate. - AR


Did Christopher Columbus discover America in 1492? Or did the Vikings discover it before him? And before the Vikings? Those who lived there did not exist?

The official history relates that Vasco Núñez de Balboa was the first man who saw from a peak in Panama, the two oceans. Those who lived there, were they blind?

Who put the names to maize and potato and tomato and chocolate and the mountains and rivers of America? Hernán Cortés, Francisco Pizarro?

Those who lived there were dumb?

They have told us and keep on telling us that the pilgrims of the Mayflower went to populate America

Was America devoid of humans?

Since Columbus did not understand what they were saying, he thought that they did not know how to speak.

As they were naked and tame and gave everything in exchange for nothing, he thought that they were non-thinking people.

And since he was certain that he had reached the Orient through the back door, he thought that they were Indians from India.

Later during his second voyage, the Admiral dictated an Act establishing that Cuba was part of Asia.

The document of 14 June 1494 pledged that the crew of his three ships recognized it as well; and anyone who said otherwise would receive a hundred lashes and would be fined with a sum of ten thousand Maravedis and have his tongue cut out.

The notary, Hernán Pérez de Luna confirmed this on good faith.

And at the foot of the document the sailors who could write, signed their names.

The conquistadors were demanding that America was what was not. They did not see what they saw, but what they wanted to see: the fountain of youth, the city of gold, the kingdom of emeralds, the country of cinnamon. And
they portrayed the Americans just as they had imagined the pagans from the East.

Columbus saw on the coasts of Cuba mermaids with men’s faces and feathers, and knew that not far from there that men and women had tails.

In Guyana, according to Sir Walter Raleigh, there were people with eyes on their shoulders and mouths on their chest.

In Venezuela, according to Pedro Simón, there were Indians with ears so large that they dragged behind them on the ground.

On the Amazon River, according to Cristóbal Acuña, the natives had feet facing backwards, with heels forward and toes at the rear, and according to Pedro Martín de Anglería women cut off one of their breasts so as to be able to shoot a bow and arrow more accurately. Anglería, who wrote the first history of America but never went there, also said that in the New World there were people with tails, as Colunbus had noted, and their tails were so long that they could only sit on seats with holes.

The Black Code prohibits the torture of slaves in the French colonies. But it was not to torture, but to educate them that masters beat their black slaves and when they fled, they cut their tendons.

The laws of the Indies, which protected the Indians in the Spanish colonies, were very moving. But most moving were the gallows and the pillory erected in the center of each town square.

The reading of the Requirement was most convincing on the eve of the assault on each village. It explained to the Indians that God had come to Earth and had left in his place Saint Peter and Saint Peter was succeeded by the Holy Father and the Holy Father had granted the favor of all this land  to the Queen of Castile and therefore they would have to leave or pay tribute in gold. In the case of refusal or delay in payment war would be waged on them and they would become slaves along with their wives and children.

But the Requirement was read in the countryside at the dead of night, in Castilian without an interpreter, in the presence of the notary not not in front of just one Indian because the Indians were sleeping some distance away and they did not have the faintest idea of what would be coming down on them.

Until very recently, the 12 October was “Race Day”.

But did such a thing really exist? Who is this Race but just a useful lie to be able to exploit and exterminate thy neighbor?

In 1942, when the United States entered the world war, that country's Red Cross decided that negro blood would be not admitted into their banks of plasma. In this way any racial mixing was avoided when injections were used.

Has anyone ever seen negro blood?

The after Race Day, it became The Day of the Encounter.

Are colonial invasion encounters? Encounters, those of yesterday and those of today? Shouldn´t they really be called rapes?

Perhaps the most telling episode in American history occurred in 1563, in Chile. The Fort of Arauco was besieged by Indians, and was without food or water, but Captain Lorenzo Bernal refused to surrender. From the stockade, he shouted:

-        We will be even more!

With what women, asked the Indian chief?

-        With yours. We will give them sons who will be your masters.

The invaders called the ancient American cannibals, but more cannibalistic was the Potosí Silver Mine, whose mouths ate the flesh of the Indians to feed Europe's capitalist development.

And they called them idolatrous because they believed that nature is sacred and that we are brothers of everything that has legs, paws, wings or roots.

And they called them savages. In that, at least, they were not mistaken. So ignorant were the Indians that they were unaware that they needed visas, certificates of good conduct and work permits from Columbus, Cabral, Cortés, Alvarado and Pizarro, as well as from the pilgrims of the Mayflower.

Original Spanish language URL

Translated from Spanish and edited by Arturo Rosales – Axis of Logic

© Translation Copyright 2017 by

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