Spain's Right Isn't Pleased With Biden's Take on Columbus

They're very much into it
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 12, 2021 1:46 PM CDT
Spain's Right Isn't Pleased With Biden's Take on Columbus
A Christopher Columbus statue is shown in Pittston City, Pa., on Columbus Day, Monday, Oct. 11, 2021.   (Mark Moran/The Citizens' Voice via AP)

If you thought the controversy over Columbus Day was restricted to US shores, you'd be wrong. What became a US federal holiday in 1937 is celebrated in grand fashion in Spain a day later, on Oct. 12. There, it's more like a Fourth of July or Bastille Day, with PRI reporting that people flank the avenue to the Royal Palace, the king addresses the crowd, and a military parade takes place. And so the BBC reports some right-wing politicians in Spain were none too pleased with how President Biden handled the day: by noting the "wave of devastation" Christopher Columbus helped unleash on Native Americans and issuing a proclamation that makes Oct. 11 Indigenous Peoples' Day as well.

A professor of colonialism in the Americas tells PRI there's little hand-wringing in Spain over the holiday. "It’s rarely discussed in local media or among Spaniards. For centuries, Spain considered 1492 as the year their territory grew and they became a unified empire." Indeed, the head of the conservative Popular Party called Spain's growth in the Americas "the most important event in history after the Roman empire." Pablo Casado continued, "Does the kingdom of Spain have to apologize because five centuries ago it discovered the New World, respected those who were there, created universities, created prosperity, built entire cities? I don't think so."

The head of the far-right Vox party, the third-biggest in parliament, called Biden a "lamentable president" who "has just attacked the great masterpiece of the Spanish conquest: the evangelization. How proud we can feel about what our ancestors did." The New York Times reports there was a similar reaction from the Spanish right to a September statement from Pope Francis to Mexico that referenced "the very painful errors committed in the past." Madrid's conservative leader, a member of the Popular Party, said in response that Spain brought "civilization and freedom" to the Americas. (More Columbus Day stories.)

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