October 12, traditionally remembered as the day Christopher Columbus arrived at the Americas in 1492, is causing controversy on and off the Internet. Points of view on the subject are both conflicting and converging: many commemorate the arrival of what they see as the modernization of the continent, while others protest what they see as the start of an economic pillage, the consequences of which can still be seen today.
Social networks were blazing with the Spanish-speaking voices of activists defending the legacy of the indigenous civilizations of the continent, sharing photos of protests against the celebration of October 12 and recalling the disadvantages that these groups suffer today. Others insist that it is necessary to leave the past behind and celebrate the fusion of cultures that was a result of the Spanish colonization.
Numerous memes and messages debated, challenged and disputed throughout the day.
However, reactions didn't just come from Latin America: many Spanish users were also protesting against the celebration of Hispanic Day, which takes place on the same day. The Iberian Twittersphere saw attacks against the government and rejections of the legacy of the colonization.
Similarly, there were displays of support for Spain and the unity of the kingdom in times of crisis.
Ultimately, one common course connected the reactions, and it was the hashtag contending that October 12 is nothing to celebrate #nadaquecelebrar.
The hashtag was still trending after October 12 and prompted not only opinions and images, but also demonstrations and protests from indigenous communities who view the disregard for their rights as much more than just part of a distant historic past.
A large number of tweets deemed the process of colonization genocide, questioning the traditional discourse narrating the arrival of the Spanish Crown to the region, and highlighting the fact that even today it is other people who are profiting from the riches.
— Noe (@noelia__romero) octubre 12, 2015
Nunca descubrimos América, masacramos y sometimos un continente y sus culturas en nombre de Dios. Nada que celebrar. pic.twitter.com/OvzdLx13u0
— José María González (@JM_Kichi) octubre 12, 2015
We never discovered America, we massacred and suppressed a continent and its cultures in the name of God. Nothing to celebrate.
— Daniela (@DannielaSoto) octubre 12, 2015
#nadaquecelebrar y cual es la diferencia de hoy a hace 600 años? si igual o peor nuestras riquezas y recursos se van para el extranjero
— Jb Díaz (@Jbdiiaz) octubre 12, 2015
#nothingtocelebrate and what is the difference between today and 600 years ago? it is the same or worse our riches and resources go overseas
Azkintuwe, the newspaper of the Mapuche country, followed the march for the Mapuche community, which chose October 12 as a date to reinforce their demands in Santiago, Chile:
— Pedro Cayuqueo (@pcayuqueo) octubre 12, 2015
“March for the Mapuche Resistance
The march was also followed by the online Chilean newspaper El Observatodo, which clarified the group's demands in more detail:
Recuperar la tierra usurpada, el derecho humano a la libre determinación y sobre todo el fin a la militarización de [la región de] La Araucanía fueron los temas que marcaron la última marcha por la resistencia mapuche. La manifestación fue calificada por los organizadores con un momento para denunciar que el Estado, en defensa de los intereses del gran empresariado forestal, sigue “usurpando las tierras del pueblo mapuche, reprimiendo su lucha y criminalizando sus demandas”
Reclaiming the usurped lands, the human right to self-determination and above all an end to the militarization of the Araucania region — these were the issues raised in the latest march by the Mapuche resistance. During the protest, organizers denounced that the government, in defense of the interests of the big forestry entrepreneurs, keep “usurping the lands of the Mapuche peoples, suppressing their fight and criminalizing their demands”
The Mexican news collective Desinformémenos was particularly active. From their Twitter account, they shared numerous messages emphasizing that the main problem is that even today, indigenous communities throughout much of Latin America are still being displaced and marginalized.
— Desinformémonos (@Desinformemonos) octubre 12, 2015
Image: In 1492 the indigenous peoples were expelled from their lands. In 2015, the same. There is still so much to do.
DeRedes #Nothingtocelebrate. 1492. There is still so much to do.
The collective also used the caricature of Colombian Beto Barreto to bring attention to the economic and cultural influences that many people consider to be the cause of the occupation over the countries of Latin America by foreign forces.
— Desinformémonos (@Desinformemonos) octubre 12, 2015
Image: “Conquered once more.”
-We're going to celebrate Columbus Day proudly!
De Redes: #Nothingtocelebrate Conquered once again
Other users, such as David García, drew parallels between the economic processes that seem to connect the history and present day conditions:
— David García Rivero (@Deiv_G) octubre 12, 2015
Images: The signing of the first free-trade treaty with Spain.
Today what we are celebrating is the first treaty of free-trade in history signed by Spain. #Nothingtocelebrate
In revisiting the past, the discussion brought about discontent that underlined the complexity of the debate; for certain societies and mestiza communities, after years of influence, migration and ethnic merging it can be difficult to separate the distinctive elements of one common culture:
@LuisCarlos solo un aborigen puede hacer juicio de valor respecto a ese hecho. El resto de nosotros no existiría si no fuese por el 12-O.
— Andrés Loreto (@Andreslo85) octubre 12, 2015
@LuisCarlos only an aborigine can make a respected judgement with regards to this. The rest of us wouldn't exist if it weren't for October 12.