Columbus Day, a date that generates controversy

The commemoration of the “Day of the Race” or “Day of the Encounter between two Cultures” is the subject of various controversies every year: some in favor and others against.

After a review of history, there are those who consider that on that day the beginning of the slavery process that occurred with the arrival of Christopher Columbus in America in 1492 should be remembered, so it should not be celebrated, rather commemorated.

“That date we should commemorate it, not celebrate it. In that simple conceptualization, we celebrate the National Independence, The Restoration, the birth of Juan Pablo Duarte…. However, this historical fact is not a patriotic event,” explained Augusto Bravo, dean of the Faculty of Humanities of the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo (UASD) and also a specialist in American history.

Change of names

The name of “Día de la Raza” has changed over time in many countries, Bravo pointed out. For example, in Argentina, “Día de la Raza” became “Day of Respect for American Cultural Diversity”. Uruguay commemorates the “Day of Cultural Diversity”.

On the other hand, in Nicaragua it was renamed in 2007 as “Indigenous, Black and Popular Resistance Day”, following in the wake of Guatemala or Venezuela.

“Day of the Discovery of Two Worlds” is the new name given by Chileans. While in the Dominican Republic it changed to “Day of the Encounter between two Cultures”, although popularly it is still called “Day of the Race”.

According to Bravo, the “Day of the Race” has an ideological background, but it is a term that is to be questioned just like the “Day of the Encounter between two Cultures”. “Neither is it the meeting of two cultures, but of multiple cultures,” he stressed in a meeting with elCaribe.

The discovery of America

“From that date (1492) there was an extermination of the population, subjected to slavery and excessive exploitation,” stressed the academic and historian.

However, he indicated that “the discovery of America must be focused and understood, since it is a product of the incipient capitalist development (…). On the other hand, Christopher Columbus is a Renaissance man and this must also be understood in order to understand this process”.

In the same vein, he clarified that although it is called discovery, it is not, because what does not exist is discovered. “We are going to say that in 1492 there was an encounter,” he said.

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