Ask a Mexican

Columbus Day is a national holiday in many countries of the Americas and elsewhere which officially celebrates the anniversary of Christopher Columbus's arrival in the Americas on October 12, 1492. In Mexico, it was formerly known as “dia de la raza” day of the race; it is now known as “day of the celebration of cultural diversity.” Do you know what is celebrated on October 12? How do you feel about such a celebration? Do you celebrate?

Dear readers:

We have decided to eliminate the photos of the respondents. In a recent edition, a photograph was published without permission. Although we know that it is always difficult to get photos and names amongst all of those we process every issue, we sincerely apologize to Ms. Laura Piazola Zamora for this mistake. The Editor.

 

Laura Dominguez, 62, shop owner.

I know it’s about La Pinta, La Niña, La Santa Maria, when Columbus came to the Americas. My kids, when they were little, had to dress up for the celebration and prepare a speech. I understand things have changed and the particular celebration has had a shift of focus, but I believe that if it wasn’t for Columbus, we wouldn’t be the culture we are today.

 

Jaime Gomez, 47, security guard.

When I was a child we would celebrate at school, but there were kids dressed as Europeans and kids dressed as indigenous tribes, I always wanted to be one of the Europeans but I wasn’t white enough. I am happy the name has changed because being invaded is nothing to celebrate. We were one of the strongest civilizations before Columbus came, and they took our riches and left us poor.

 

Arturo Velazquez, 51, bar manager.

I am very grateful for my heritage that has both Spanish and Mexican descent, but I do have to recognize that Europeans made native Mexicans suffer a lot. I am happy the whole concept has changed because there are more races than just Europeans with Mexicans. A little while ago, the afromexicans were recognized as a race of their own and maybe they didn’t come on the same ships as the Europeans, but they are definitely here as a consequence of Columbus.

 

Estefania Cano, 26, stay at home mom.

I know and understand my heritage and the history behind it, but I do not want to celebrate the fact that Europeans came and almost vanished a whole race and looted its riches. I have realized that history is now different, and my kids do not have an actual celebratory day like I did in school. They are taught that the day is about cultural diversity and I am proud of that. Kids now, I believe that are going to have to face the difference in time, and nowadays they not only will have European and American descent but much more due to globalization.

 

Isaac Jimenez, 33, painter.

When I was young all history was different. We had different planets, and some things were called another. Things were a little more realistic, now everything is subject to who will be offended, why we can’t say certain things, and this is one of them. The truth is that we are a country woven by the rich heritage of our ancestors, and as bad as it sounds, the European massacre was necessary for what we are today. Yes, we lost many indigenous groups and the country was left in rags. If we had more indigenous groups survive, we would have a larger percentage of Indian blood in us, and I am certain our people would be completely different.

 

Pablo Lerma, 30, nurse.

Where I’m from, that day there’s three celebrations; Columbus Day, the day of the virgin and the university foundation. I think it’s a very superficial celebration, very European but not very Mexican. It's about the merge of two worlds, but for me, it’s the beginning of disgrace. From that date, a conquer started that lasted more than 500 years. We were free sons of the earth; we were degraded to slaves. The government is still in that position against natives, making them believe they live under the “customs” and take advantage of their poor knowledge of modern law. For example, a poor community gets its land ripped away by the government because they have no idea how to defend themselves.