Monday, October 13, 2008

Happy Indigenous People's Day!

The case for why Columbus should NOT be honored:

Columbus planned to conquer and colonize all the Caribbean islands and the mainland. The islands were populated by over a million Taino Indians, peaceful farmers and fishermen. Unable to find enough gold to finance his schemes, Columbus captured thousands of Tainos and shipped them to the slave markets of Spain. The Tainos resisted with fishbone-tipped spears, but these were no match for artillery. Columbus demanded that each Taino pay a tribute of gold dust every three months, under penalty of amputation of the hands. In two years over a hundred thousand Tainos were dead, and the survivors were slaves in the mines and plantations. Columbus personally invented European imperialism in the Americas and the transatlantic slave trade.
Source: Red Coral

And so Columbus, desperate to pay back dividends to those who had invested, had to make good his promise to fill the ships with gold. In the province of Cicao on Haiti, where he and his men imagined huge gold fields to exist, they ordered all persons fourteen years or older to collect a certain quantity of gold every three months. When they brought it, they were given copper tokens to hang around their necks. Indians found without a copper token had their hands cut off and bled to death.

The Indians had been given an impossible task. The only gold around was bits of dust garnered from the streams. So they fled, were hunted down with dogs, and were killed.

Trying to put together an army of resistance, the Arawaks faced Spaniards who had armor, muskets, swords, horses. When the Spaniards took prisoners they hanged them or burned them to death. Among the Arawaks, mass suicides began, with cassava poison. Infants were killed to save them from the Spaniards. In two years, through murder, mutilation, or suicide, half of the 250,000 Indians on Haiti were dead.

When it became clear that there was no gold left, the Indians were taken as slave labor on huge estates, known later as encomiendas. They were worked at a ferocious pace, and died by the thousands. By the year 1515, there were perhaps fifty thousand Indians left. By 1550, there were five hundred. A report of the year 1650 shows none of the original Arawaks or their descendants left on the island.

Columbus is DIRECTLY responsible for the deaths of thousands of Arawaks in Haiti. He forced them into gold mines for 6-8 months and 1/3 died, exhausted, depressed, ceased to procreate, killed their infants. Columbus also killed them thru murder, mutilation, suicide, overwork, abuse, and diseases.

The following history is one of depopulation: a heavy toll from wars of resistance, hard labor, and malnutrition. In 1492 there were 3 million people on Hispaniola. Two years later the population was cut in half. In 1515 it was down to 50,000, in 1550 it was 500 and by 1650 there weren't any left. Furthermore, Columbus' actions launched an era of modern colonialism, rape, pillage, genocide, cultural destruction, slavery, economic & environmental devastation.

To celebrate Columbus is, as one Guatemalan has noted, the same as having Jews celebrate Hitler and the holocaust. Columbus is much more than a representation of evil; he is the very embodiment of that evil.

Need I say more?

No comments: