It is the first sentence of an online event via zoom that seeks to answer two questions on Monday, 5 October at 6 pm.: “Was Columbus a hero or a villain?” and “What is his legacy and why should he be dishonoured rather than celebrated?”
What happened on 13 October 1492 was not a conquest. It was an invasion and a genocide.
The truth about Columbus’ arrival to the Americas is one that needs to be told. It must be told because the impact of the first conquest and of colonisation it still being felt now.
Columbus Day, Discovery of America, National Festivity Day, Day of Hispanidad, and Day of the Encounter of Two Worlds, are just some of the names given to Columbus’ arrival to the American continent. They are names that fundamentally look to celebrate and commemorate the date that the Italian traveller, financed by the Spanish Crown and accompanied by a crew that is said to have had a questionable reputation, “discovered” and brought “civilisation” to America.
It’s been this way for years, for centuries, based on a story told cheerfully at school in which Columbus arrives to discover a world and unite it with his own, bringing civilisation accompanied by religion.
But the truth behind this version of history has been forgotten for a long time. It was not the discovery of a continent – America had been discovered thousands of years earlier by its inhabitants.
There was no “civilisation” to speak of, rather Columbus imposed his world, customs and religion on the natives, which had nothing to with those held and practiced by the true owners of America.
The invasion, genocide and colonisation that took place continues even today in a different form: multinational corporations, interventionism, megaprojects, wars.
For this reason, the name of the event, “Columbus must fall! End Imperialism in Latin America and the Caribbean!” is so direct, and even more so considering the two questions posed by the organisers (P12O Platform 12 October Resistance Continues): “Christopher Columbus, a hero or a villain?” and “What is his legacy and why should he be dishonoured rather than celebrated?”
The organisers emphasise that “Columbus initiated the colonisation, rape and exploitation that even after political independence is still with us today in the form of neo-colonisation, where multinational corporations extract the natural wealth and leave countries and environments destroyed. Many of these fossil fuel multinationals are UK based, they are amongst the biggest global generators of carbon emissions. Columbus legacy is planetary destruction. The peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean have been resisting colonialism and oppression for over five centuries. We need to learn about their struggles and support them in the here and now, we need to unite with them and break the chains of capitalist destruction.”
The event (which is part of the P12o Ix Annual Forum 2020 “COVID-19: Neo-colonial Genocide. Our People’s Resistance Continues”) will focus on the following issue:
“Columbus genocide against the indigenous peoples of the Caribbean” by Cecil Gutzmore, Independent Pan Afrikan Scholar; “Columbus was an enslaver as well as a coloniser” by Andy Higginbottom, Kingston University / Colombia Solidarity Campaign; “Resistance of the original peoples” by Amancay Colque, Bolivia Solidarity Campaign; “Cerrejon Coal: Afrodescendant and indigenous communities resisting British mining multinationals” by Diana Salazar, UCL / Colombia Solidarity Campaign; “Columbus’ heirs – ExxonMobil and the attempted colonisation of Guyana2 by Melinda Janki, international lawyer; and “Overthrowing Columbus: unifying our rebellions in planet repairs for global justice” by Kofi Mawuli Klu, joint coordinator, XR Internationalist Solidarity Network (XRISN). Moderator: Andy Higginbottom.