The Spain Among Us

PrintPrintEmailEmail
 

The Spanish were the first to confront the questions posed by colonization: What is the proper, just, and moral relationship between Europeans and Native Americans? To what extent should Europeans, in an effort to “civilize” and “improve” Native Americans, impose European culture, technology, and religious beliefs upon Native Americans? Is it acceptable for European, African, and Native American peoples to become intermingled to create a new race of mixed blood? If Europeans can use American land more productively than Native Americans, can the land simply be taken? The only ideal response would have been the impossible one: to “repeal” the discovery and leave the Americas to their original inhabitants.

Más allá. When the Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes received the Cervantes Prize for Literature in 1987, he save an address saying, “The quixotic adventure has not yet ended in the New World.” He spoke about the “debate with others, debate with ourselves” over the meaning of the five-hundredth anniversary “of a disquieting date—1492” and asked: “Who is the author of the New World? Columbus, who first set foot on it, or Vespucio, who first named it? The gods who fled or the gods who arrived? … What does America mean? To whom does this name belong? What does New World mean? … How does one baptize the river, mountain, jungle, seen for the first time? And, most importantly, what name do you give to the anonymous vast humanity—Indian and Creole, mestizo and Black—of the multiracial culture of the Americas? … Who is the author of the New World? All of us are. all of us who incessantly imagine it because we know that without our imagination, America, the generic name of new worlds, would cease to exist.”