Open Letter to King and Queen of Spain
Open Letter to King and Queen of Spain
March 8, 2016
King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia
LA CASA DE SU MAJESTAD EL REY DE ESPAÑA
Palacio de La Zarzuela
Carretera del Pardo s/n
. Madrid Spain
Re: Inauguration of the Christopher Columbus Statue in
Borikén (aka Puerto Rico)
Open Letter to your esteemed Majesties King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia:
The members of the
of Bohío Atabei Mujeres de la Yuka write you this letter to inform you of an
important issue and to ask for your cooperation in resolving it. The Grandmothers are the Elders of our community,
the Indigenous People of the Caribbean — the
Taíno, or the “Good people”. In March,
2016, a statue of Christopher Columbus is scheduled to be inaugurated in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. It is our understanding that the people
involved in this disrespectful and humiliating project wish to have your
Majesties attend this event. We ask that
you respectfully decline this invitation.
It is known that Columbus’s voyages were the starting point for the genocide, slavery, and oppression of Indigenous Peoples, the repercussion of which we still suffer from today. Not only is this statue in honor of a known murderer, there is total disregard to the ecological effects this entire project may generate. Just a few facts: (1) it is taller than the Statute of Liberty, (2) it is situated near a known earthquake fault line, (3) it is being located in a beach known for its disastrous erosion, (4) it has already been rejected by cities across the
, and (5) it will
disturb nearby known Taíno archaeological sites. United States
Let it be known that we don’t, nor should anyone, blame your Majesties for the mistakes of the ancient conquerors who tried to destroy us. It was a barbaric time, when people justified the rape and torture of our people and land, and the genocide of millions in the name of God. It is unfortunate that humankind has not learned from past mistakes, actions, and choices.
Although our Ancestors who directly suffered the horrors of colonization have passed on, we still carry their painful wounds. We live with the consequences of the continued and centuries-long attempts to make our Indigenous Peoples disappear from anything that affirmed and affirms our survival, our resilience and our identity.
At this point in time, the cause and icon of our pain, Christopher Columbus, comes to be glorified in an effort to “create economic development”, “attract tourism”, and “promote the colonizers biased and romanticized version of history". Not only does this statue open old wounds, it creates new wounds when we should be discussing reconciliation and looking for solutions as to how to mend the lives of those who continue to be trapped in the tentacles of this monster that, even after almost 523 years, continues to adversely affect the lives of millions more in the present.
History continues to repeat itself. We do not want our beautiful island to be tarnished by the shadows of villains. It is time we stop honoring genocidal figures of history and work towards reconciliation.
Even though the swords collect dust, Indigenous Peoples continue to be oppressed, displaced from their lands, their livelihood and resources. Moreover while they struggle to protect it, many are losing their lives; this time in the name of money and the disguise of “economic development”. Slavery, plunder and rape have taken on new forms, yet the effects continue to be as severe.
Despite the horrors of colonization and the perpetuated myth of our extinction, the Taíno Peoples exist. Despite what we have lost, we reclaim our voices. As Elders, we work to empower our Taíno communities so that, together, we can reclaim and be proud of our heritage and the land that we love and care for, regardless of where destiny has placed us on this planet. We are well aware that the only reason we still exist to this day is because someone in our lineage had to suffer through and endure terrible things in order for us to live, and that in by itself gives us strength. We can no longer remain silent. We have the right to choose our own heroes and heroines.
Historically, the interaction between your people and ours has been difficult. But now, we have an opportunity to resolve this tragic past. We, the
of Bohío Atabei Mujeres de la Yuka, ask that you take a stand with us and
reject this statue of the "Hitler of the ". Imagine what a historical achievement that
would be! For our children to witness
history in the making, and for our future generations, Indigenous and non-Indigenous,
to learn that two former enemies have reconciled, that it is never too late to
choose to do what is right, that it is never too late to begin the healing
process of ancient wounds. We,
therefore, respectfully ask that you join us in opposing this monstrosity, and
strongly consider and, hopefully, choose, to announce your support to our
cause, and not attend this event in March, 2016. Americas
We ask that you choose not be remembered as the King and Queen who condoned such an injustice, but as the Majesties who, despite the political agendas that are part of our present, stood for righteousness, justice and reconciliation with the Taíno Peoples, other Indigenous Peoples of the Caribbean, the Americas, all afro-descendants, and women in general.
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter.
In the Spirit and Honoring of our Ancestors,council of grandmothers Bohio Atabei.