Christopher Columbus discovered a new continent in search of a new route to reach India by “stumbling” over this unknown land mass, it changed the life and destiny of millions of people who also inhabited it in total ignorance of the existence of another world beyond the sea.

Nevertheless, Columbus barely touched a minimal area of ​​America never explored it and history tells that he was unable to recognize that it was an unknown land, because he died believing that he had reached Asia. Therefore, a large number of people are opposed to celebrating Columbus Day in the United States, a region that was settled long after the discovery.

Columbus landed in America on October 12, 1942 and is celebrated on the continent as “Día de la Raza” or “Day of the Meeting of Two Worlds”. In the United States, it became a holiday since 1972 when the Order of Columbian New York, better known as Tammany Hall, held an event to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the historic landing. The navigator was presented with heroic vision to Americans in the text The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus, written by historian Washington Irving and published in 1828.

In 1892, President Benjamin Harrison issued a declaration to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the day of the discovery of America. However, it was in 1934 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed Columbus Day as a national holiday in order to accompany and support the “American” demonym that the country was awarded.

“They sought to give the image of power of the continent against Europe. Oh, they take this figure (that of Christopher Columbus) that goes with the discourse of being white, but we write our own history,” César Carrillo, an anthropologist and researcher at UNAM, told a supplement to El País.

From 1971 onwards, Columbus Day ceased to be celebrated on October 12 and began to be commemorated on the second Monday of October. “Christopher Columbus’ spirit of determination and adventure has inspired generations of Americans. On this #ColumbusDay, we honor his remarkable achievements as a navigator and celebrate his voyage to the uncharted expanse of the Atlantic Ocean,” Donald Trump wrote on his 2018 Twitter account.

Why does Columbus Day generate so much controversy?

There are several sectors of the American population that do not agree on the commemoration of the discovery of Christopher Columbus that gave rise to the colonization of the continent through the almost extermination of the natives, slavery and the abuse of hundreds of communities.

For this reason, it has been proposed that instead of commemorating the discovery of Columbus Indigenous Peoples Day is celebrated, which has already been established in several states and cities of the American Union. In addition, in the 19th century, the festivity was rejected due to its relationship with Catholicism because, although Columbus was a Genoese navigator, his expedition was financed by the Catholic kings, Ferdinand and Isabella, and had as its primary objective “evangelize” and bring the Catholic religion to new lands.

Nevertheless, the figure of Columbus was claimed by the Italian community who migrated to the United States in the 20th century, who placed him as a symbol of unity in the face of the discrimination that many experienced upon arriving in the country.

Critics assure that the commemoration is incorrect of a date that marks the beginning of the genocide of indigenous communities and the enslavement of Africans who were trafficked and massacred in thousands for decades.

Columbus made several trips between Europe and the “New World”, however, never reached the territory now known as the United States. In reality, only in one of the four landings did he make it on the mainland, in what is now Panama, while the other three reached the Caribbean islands.

“Don Christopher Columbus, who, disillusioned by not finding the coveted mines of Cipango that bothered him so much during his long sleepless nights, he ordered during his second trip to the Indies that a caravel be prepared with five hundred indigenous people to be sold in the Seville market”, relates Fray Bartolomé de las Casas in his Very Brief Account of the destruction of the Indies.

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