Press Statement of Escuela Tlatelolco Centro de
Estudios and the Red Earth Women's Alliance
Presented by Nita Gonzalez
September 6, 2001
It can be said that America was not discovered in 1492 because those
who invaded it did not know how to see it and embrace their own
humanity. Four years after Christopher Columbus first set foot on the
beaches of this Great Turtle Island what we now call America, his
brother Bartholomew inaugurated a crematorium in Haiti and the
Caribbean. Six Indians, found guilty of sacrilege, were burned at the
stake. The Indians had buried a few little drawings of Jesus Christ and
the Virgin Mary so that these new gods would make their plot of corn
more fruitful. They felt not the slightest twinge of guilt because it
was an act of faith not a mortal offense.
In 1492 America was invaded, not discovered, since thousands of years
previous it was populated by the sophisticated Indigenous nations who
lived and thrived here.
However, not all who came failed to see the humanity. Spanish
revolutionary Gonzalo Guerrero saw it. He was the conquered
conquistador, and having seen it he was slain. Certain prophets saw it,
Bartolome de Las Casas, Vasco de Quiroga, and Bernardino de Sahagun. And
having seen it they were condemned to solitude. But this land and its
native peoples were not seen by Columbus, the soldiers and the monks,
the notaries and the merchants who came in search of quick fortune and
who imposed their religion and culture as the only way of life. The
first Columbus Day, known in some parts of Central and South America as
the Day of the Race, began a cycle of racism that America has yet to
free itself from.
No imperial undertaking, neither past nor present, has the capacity
to discover that which is already known. An adventure of usurpation and
plunder does not discover: it covers up. It doesn't reveal: it hides.
And to be successful it needs self-serving alibis and justifications
that turn arbitrariness into law.
Columbus set the stage for the most brutal genocidal conquest ever
witnessed by the world. This conquest continued in America what had
begun and was still occurring in Europe in those same years. In 1562,
Fray Diego de Landa burned the Mayan codices in a gigantic bonfire in
the Yucatan. In 1499 in Granada, Archbishop Cisneros tossed three
Islamic books on the flames. Columbus a mercenary paid with Spanish
money began the conquest of America for Spain with a force of
colonization and suffering of the most ferocious kind.
Poverty, prejudice, injustice, violence that plague our Raza here and
in Central and South America do not come from our exotic nature, but
have deep roots in history: from the times in which Columbus's
colonization was made to serve Europe's accumulation of wealth.
In today's world we strive to guide our children towards a more
humane life. We want to provide all children with a tremendous sense of
worth and integrity. We endeavor to raise them with a strong
understanding of all nations who occupy this world. But when schools,
governments and laws "celebrate" genocide, slavery, and theft
we must have the moral courage to stand against this and say YA BASTA!
By saying no to celebrating genocide, by saying no to a global system
of greed, by saying no to injustice we are no longer shackled by our
fear and can say yes to the universal values of freedom, equality, and
In the tradition of our indigenous ancestors, in the name of my
grandmothers and grandfathers, in spirit of all our ancestors I stand
here to announce the beginning of a fast. A fast that embraces the core
of who we are as Chicanos, Mexicanos, Indio, Italian, Peruvians, Mayans,
all nations. "Although fasting is one of the weapons in our armory,
it should not be forgotten that it is, after all, only a means to appeal
to the moral conscience and secure the cooperation of all peoples
consistently with truth and justice"...Ghandi
Throughout this fast we challenge people in different communities and
different segments of society who have themselves experienced the pain
of racism, the pain of poverty, the pain of exclusion to do the
Challenge faith based communities to pass a resolution rejecting
Columbus as the first transatlantic slave trader. To call on their
congregations to join us October 6 Four Directions All Nations March.
Challenge people in all our communities to find their voice to oppose
Columbus and the Columbus Day parade by endorsing Transform Columbus
Challenge Mayor Webb to "do the right thing" and announce
his personal opposition to the celebration of a slave trader.
Challenge City Council to take an affirmative step to introduce a
resolution to repudiate Columbus and support this day as All Nations
Challenge Ari Zavaras to deny the request for a second permit. In the
event a second permit is granted that it be awarded to the first party
which requested it, the Four Directions/All Nations March.
Challenge State legislators to introduce legislation to repeal the
Challenge 100 elementary/secondary teachers to reorient their
curricula to reflect the diverse perspectives of this history.
For those who would say this is not our problem, our issue nor our
people. I ask when is the ongoing injury and pain of peoples' children
not our problem. When is the injustice of poverty, violence, and racism
not our problem? When is inhumanity not our problem? This is our
issue---this is a Chicano issue---this is a Mexicano issue---this is a
Latino issue---because we are familia, we are mestizo, we are
Did Zapata, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Delores Huerta, Cesar
Chavez, Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, Corky Gonzales, Leonard Peltier say
injustice, indignity; inhumanity was not their problem? NO.
"Injustice any where is a threat to Justice Everywhere" Martin
Luther King, Jr.