101415-columbusChristopher Columbus: Hero or murderer?

Guest Editorial

By Cathy Rodriguez-Malave

Columbus Day has been a US Federal holiday since 1937. I see it as nothing more than a foolish tradition celebrating the life of a murderer.

Yes, I said murderer. But I will get to that in a moment.

Let’s be quite honest. Columbus was lost when he landed in the Bahamas. Columbus believed he had arrived in East Asia. Columbus did not discover the Caribbean. There were flourishing civilizations of indigenous people who alreadyinhabited these areas.

One could argue that Columbus discovered the Caribbean from a European standpoint. Ok fine,he was the first European there. But is that worth celebrating? I guess that would depend on who your ancestors are and what you know about history.

I’m going to tell you what I know based on who I am and what I have discovered. I encourage each and every one of you to do some research on your own and come to your own conclusions based on facts.

This editorial focuses on the Tainos.

Columbus and his crew made slaves of the indigenous people of the Caribbean.  They used extreme violence and brutality to make the indigenous people submissive. During his reign of destruction and terror, Columbus used forced labor in which indigenous people were put to work as gold miners. If the indigenous people did not produce the gold he required, they were brutalized and often their hands were cut off.

It has also been said that Columbus’s men brutalized the indigenous people through the use of attack dogs, trained to tear the indigenous people apart.

There are written accounts where Columbus describes the indigenous Tainos to be very peaceful and loving. Columbus viewed this generosity as a weakness and he considered that they were idiots, easily manipulated to do whatever he wanted. It is also documented that Columbus’s men coveted the beautiful indigenous women and regularly raped and brutalized them.

When the women attempted to fight back, their children were often murdered brutally in front of their mother’s eyes. Columbus ordered many indigenous people to be taken from the island of Hispaniola and transported to Spain to be sold as slaves but many did not make it and died on the journey. Columbus and his men managed to decimate the Taino population through murder and disease.

There are accounts of indigenous people being decapitated, dismembered and even cut in half so that Columbus’ men could test the blades on their swords. On what is now the Dominican Republic, Columbus ordered that the brutalized and dismembered bodies of indigenous people who dared to revoltagainst him, be paraded on the streets as a lesson to all.

Columbus’s brutality would eventually be discovered. Settlers lobbied against Columbus to the Spanish court, and accused him of mismanagement in the “new world”.

The king and queen of Spain ordered an investigation and in 1500 Columbus and his brothers were detained and shipped back to Spain. Even though Columbus was stripped of his title of Governor, he was eventually pardoned.

This is the man who America celebrateson the 12th of October.

I refuse to celebrate Columbus Day. I will instead celebrateIndigenous People’s Day who because of their loving and accepting nature, were taken advantage of, brutalized and destroyed. I choose to remember my ancestors.