Sunday, April 30, 2006

Destruction of the Indies: Part One

Bartolome de las Casas was a Dominican priest, sometimes called the father of anti-racism and anti-imperialism. In 1542 he documented the cruel and torturous atrocities committed against the indigenous population of Central/Latin America at the hands of the Spanish conquistadores. Casas' book, "A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies," contains so much important information that I felt it was necessary to share it with everyone.
As I continue to read his words, I will relay excerpts for all to read. We cannot let this part of our history be forgotten. By "our history," I do not mean a particular culture or geographical location, but the entire human race. We are all part of the same family; what effects one effects another. And as the old saying goes, No one is Free when others are Oppressed.
Take a moment to think about what these people experienced. Put yourself in their shoes and you will be horrified.

"What a European will consume in a single day normally supports three native households of ten persons each for a whole month, and since the newcomers began to subject the locals to other vexations, assaults, and iniquities, the people began to realize that these men could not, in truth, have descended from the heavens. Some of them started to conceal what food they had, others decided to send their women and children into hiding, and yet others took to the hills to get away from the brutal and ruthless cruelty that was being inflicted on them. The Christians punched them, boxed their ears and flogged them in order to track down the local leaders, and the whole shameful process came to a head when one of the European commanders raped the wife of the paramount chief of the entire island. It was then that the locals began to think up ways of driving the Europeans out of their lands and to take up arms against them. Their weapons, however, were flimsy and ineffective in both attack and defence and, with their horses and swords and lances, the Spaniards easily fended them off, killing them and committing all kind of atrocities against them.
"They forced their way into native settlements, slaughtering everyone they found there, including small children, old men, pregnant women, and even women who had just given birth. They hacked them to pieces, slicing open their bellies with their swords as though they were so many sheep herded into a pen. They even laid wagers on whether they could manage to slice a man in two at a stroke, or cut an individual's head from this body, or disembowel him with a single blow of their axes. They grabbed suckling infants by their feet and, ripped them from their mothers' breasts, dashed them headlong against the rocks. Other, laughing and joking all the while, threw them over their shoulders into a river, shouting: 'Wriggle, you little perisher.' They slaughtered anyone and everyone in their path, on occasion running through a mother and her baby with a single thrust of their swords. They spared no one, erecting especially wide gibbets on which they could string their victims up with their feet just off the ground and then burn them alive thirteen at a time, in honour of our Savior and the twelve Apostles" (p. 14-15).

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