Written by Borja Cardelús
An evil alliance of ignorance and ingratitude, together with mistaken ideological motivations is happening. In this summary, Spanish and north American authorities have enough ammunition to counteract such an ignominious movement.
Now that the Hispanic heritage in the United States is being subjugated through a savage destruction process, it is the moment to review what would it had been of the American nation without the Hispanic legacy, be sufficient with the ascertain of its vestiges.
The first one, probably the less important, is the toponymy. The United States is riddled with Spanish names, as States like Nevada, Florida, California, Texas, Arizona and Colorado exhibit; cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Antonio, Sacramento testimony; furthermore the uncountable number of villages, streets, plazas with Spanish names like cape Cañaveral.
It is outstanding the roster of Hispanic paths, monuments, forts, churches and missions covering the territory of the United States, as the huge Castle of San Marcos at San Agustin, or the admirable chain of California’s Missions, as well as the landmarks and main plazas founded by Spanish settlers, historic quarters in nowadays American cities, like Santa Fe or Alburquerque, all of them following Spanish design and architecture.
Nevertheless the epic Spanish explorations wouldn’t have taken place, from Ponce de León, the first European to put his feet on it’s soil; Cabeza de Vaca would have never completed the most fabulous walking journey in history, a coast to coast travel providing miraculous curations amongst the inhabitants; Hernández de Soto wouldn’t have had explored the east nor discovered the Misisipi river, neither would’ve had Vazquez de Coronado with Texas and New Mexico, and Juan de Oñate would had never made it to settle definitely Spanish population in the southwest.
More relevant is the fact that, without Spain, there would not be native American Indians nowadays in the United States. Those who are topping down Columbus’ statues, and worst to say Junipero Serra’s and Juan de Oñate’s, are the descendants of those Indians that where saved by Spain’s efforts, its missionaries and settlers.
The “Leyes de Indias” protected them and respected their lands, and the missions founded throughout the territory incorporated them to the western Greek and Roman civilization, teaching them technics, works, religion, language, and culture. When Spain left the territory and the Anglo-Saxons penetrated it, Indians were deprived from their lands and as it had happened before in the East, where the native American Indians were extinguished completely. On the other hand, where Spain had been and had ruled, they survived, because they had learned in the missions founded by Junípero Serra and other friars how to work as carpenters, builders, peasants, farmers, cattlers, and other professions, all the way from Florida to California.
Now, north American courts of justice are giving back the lands that were taken away from them when Spain left the territory, under the shelter of the “Leyes de Indias”, the “Código de las Siete Partidas” of the Spanish king Alfonso X The wise, and the grants issued by the Spanish Crown, and tribes that have kept those titles, so ancient as valuable, are fortunate.
The Western, broadcasted by Hollywood as an identarian feature of the United States, wouldn’t have existed. Due to the cowboy world, with its cowboy uniform, the cow, the horse, the saddle, the spurs, the hat, the ranch and the cattle maneuvering, is an exact replica of the equestrian and livestock models from the Marismas of the Guadalquivir, transplanted to the West and popularized by the cinema. In purity, John Wayne is a marismas cowboy with a pair of pistols, and that model is radically different from the pedestrian farmer recollecting hay that came from the pioneer Englishmen from the East.
Neither Texas nor New Mexico would have reached their livestock wealth if it weren’t for the cows, the sheep and the mustangs brought in from Spain. And California would not be the wine power it is nowadays without the missionary grapes introduced by the Spanish friars.
The Spanish wouldn’t be the second most spoken language in the United States, and the Hispanic population wouldn’t have risen up to 55 million people, without the Spanish initial settlements of Florida, Luisiana and across the Southwest, the genuine Hispanic embryo of the United States, with the inherent cultural entourage of religion, language, character, way of life, feasts, family driven, solidarity and generosity, the main characters of the Hispanic behavior.
Black slaves from the English plantations in Carolina and Georgia would never had seen the light of freedom that the proximity of Spanish Florida meant for their pitiful life. They wished to evade and make it to the Spanish dominions, because the Hispanic monarchy gave them the free status citizenship, and even built a Fortress for them, the Mossé Fort, a refuge for those who achieved to escape from the English claws of slavery, a very important symbol as it is the first free black settlement in the United States.
The United States would have never become independent from England in 1783, as recognized by the commandant of the secessionist forces, George Washington, when he expressed that without the concourse of Spain the Independence would have been impossible. Spain helped Washington first with arms, powder, military uniforms and money, and afterwards with explicit military support, when a young Bernardo de Gálvez, expelled the English from the Misisipi and the Gulf of Mexico, and placed both territories at the disposal of the north American rebels.
Actually, California would have been a Russian sovereign territory, and not of the United Estates, because Spain settled California precisely to stop the Russian expansion. Carlos III gave the order to occupy California, what was achieved in a brilliant action, and Spain populated those lands pushing away the Russians, who were coming down from the north. And when Spain left California, and Mexico inherited it, it was easy for the United States to expel the Mexicans, not as easy as it would have been to expel the powerful Russians, that’s why they speak English in California.
Let us now think and reflect about the possible reasons and justice in topping down the Spanish statues, symbols, streets, and the rest of the Hispanic Heritage in the United Estates.
What is happening is an evil alliance of ignorance and ingratitude, together with mistaken ideological motivations. In this summary Spanish and north American authorities have enough ammunition to counteract such an ignominious movement.
Borja Cardelús is the President of the Hispanic Civilization Foundation