October 12: What is honored and why is it no longer Columbus Day?

Wednesday, October 12 marks another year of what used to be known as Columbus Day, a date that raises the question of whether it is a holiday in Mexico.

October 12: What is honored and why is it no longer Columbus Day?
New World, America, Columbus, October 12th. Credit: SIAP

Columbus Day is celebrated on October 12 in many Latin American countries to remember the cultural exchange between Europeans and Americans after Christopher Columbus landed on Guanani Island in the Bahamas. In Mexico, however, the date is no longer celebrated for this reason.

On October 12, several Latin American countries celebrate the "first meeting between two worlds." This was a big event in the history of both cultures, and it was also the start of their cultural ties.

In 1928, José Vasconcelos made it official for Mexico to celebrate Columbus Day. He did this to honor what he called the "Ibero-American race," which he said was a mix of different cultures.

Why isn't October 12th Columbus Day anymore?

In 2020, "Day of the Race" was changed to "Day of the Pluricultural Nation" at the suggestion of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) and with the approval of the Senate of the Republic.

The goal of the resolution that the senators passed is to raise awareness, appreciation, and promotion of Mexico's multicultural, multiethnic, and multilingual richness.

On October 12, 1492, what happened?

Some of the things that led Spain to go into the ocean through unexplored routes were the improvement of navigation, the need to find another trade route to India, and the desire for territorial and religious expansion for business and economic reasons.

So, in 1492, Christopher Columbus, a sailor from Genoa, set out from Europe with three ships and a crew of about a hundred people to find India.

According to the works of Miguel León-Portilla, Edmundo O'Gorman, and Federico Navarrete, Isabella of Castile, some members of the nobility, merchants, and magnates all put money into this trip.

So, Christopher Columbus arrived in what we now call America on October 12, 1492, when he found the Antilles and landed on the island of Guanahan, which he named San Salvador. He then went on to Santo Domingo and Cuba, which are now their own countries.

Several historical sources say that the lookout on one of the caravels, a sailor named Rodrigo de Triana, was the one who first saw the New World and told Christopher Columbus to head for America.

There are several versions of the so-called "Discovery of America," but one that is widely accepted is that Christopher Columbus died without knowing for sure that he had reached a new continent. This version also says that he always thought he had gone all over the world and ended up in India.

The 12th of October is celebrated in many Spanish-speaking countries, such as Colombia, Spain, and most of the United States. It is also Pluricultural Nation Day in Mexico, which is used to celebrate the Conquest of America.

But the website of the Ministry of Public Education (SEP) says that Día de la Raza is still being celebrated today (Columbus Day).

This day is Spain's national holiday. It became official during the Franco era, but its roots go back to 1918 when King Alfonso XIII copied the celebrations of Latin American countries that marked the arrival of Europeans to America and held them in Spain.

Even though the meeting of the cultures of Spain and Latin America is at the heart of all the celebrations on the continent, the name changes from country to country.

In Spain, it is known as Hispanic Heritage Day.
In the United States, it is called Columbus Day.
Chile and Peru talk about the Day of the Encounter of Two Worlds.
Argentina calls it the Day of Respect for Cultural Diversity.
In Colombia it is known, for the most part, as Día de la Raza (Day of the Race) and is beginning to be added to the Día del Respeto a la Diversidad Cultural (Day of Respect for Cultural Diversity).
Bahamas: public holiday, called Discovery Day.
Belize: public holiday, called Pan-American Day.
Bolivia: by decree, it is called "Decolonization Day", after having been called "Liberation, Identity and Interculturality Day".
Venezuela: The traditional Día de la Raza is now called Día de la Resistencia Indígena (Day of Indigenous Resistance).

People also think that the so-called "Day of the Race" is a reminder of how a culture, laws, and customs were imposed on the people who were already living in America. This is a controversial point of view that continues to spark debate.

The president of Mexico, AMLO, has said more than once that the Spanish government should ask for forgiveness for the conquest. "It is an act of humility to ask for forgiveness, and it gives both the person who asks and the person who receives it more respect," the president said at one of his morning press conferences.