Discovery of America / Destruction of the Indies

‘Oh, would that I could describe even one hundredth of the afflictions and calamities wrough among these innocent people by the benighted Spaniards!’ – Bartolomé de las Casas

As Spain celebrates its national day (which corresponds to the discovery of the New World by Columbus), it is always good to sit back, reflect on the atrocities that followed the discovery, and wonder if there is any reason to celebrate!

Below is an excerpt from ‘A Brief Account of the Destruction of the Indies’, a famous account that Bartolomé de las Casas presented to the Spanish King, Philip II, in 1542. Bartolomé was an eyewitness. He saw everything, documented everything, but his angry cries fell on the deaf ears of the Spanish Crown:

‘There is no way the written word can convey the full horror of the atrocities committed throught this region (Yucatán). The wretched Spaniards actively pursued the locals, both men and woman alike, using wild dogs to track them and hunt them down. One woman, who was indisposed at the time and so not able to make good her escape, determined that the dogs should not tear her and her baby to pieces as they had done to her neighbours and, taking a rope, and tying her one-year-old child to her leg, hanged herself from a beam. Yet she was not in time to prevent the dogs from ripping the infant to pieces, even though a friar did arrive and baptize the infant before it died.’

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