Columbus Day Revisited and Revised

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As of 2010, Argentina has taken the step to change the name and nature of the celebration of “Columbus Day.”  It is now referred to as the “Day of Diversity” or “Día de la diversidad cultural.”

Solana’s fourth grade classroom created a short dramatic presentation to commemorate the day. The roles and costumes were rather stereotypical- the king and queen of Spain, Spanish ladies, Native Americans, and even an “Arab.”  (Solana is an “indígena” in the photos).  The narrative provided by Seño Carmen, Solana’s teacher, recognized the valor of Columbus, and the economic and trade interests of the Spanish, but she also spoke of the lasting impact the Spanish colonial project had on indigenous people.  She called upon the school and the students to recognize that cultural diversity is a reality in the Argentina of today and that it is incumbent upon all of us to take on the task of “rehabilating” society and to walk hand in hand with diversity.  In the photos you can see the first graders trying to spell “diversidad cultural” with their placards.  I think the photo shows that in practice, ‘diversity’ is not as easy as it might appear on paper.

Solana was given the following Spanish verses to recite during the presentation:

Tenemos distintas banderas        We have distinct flags
y diferentes lenguajes                   And different languages
y sabemos que a la vida                And we know that in life
hay que ponerle coraje                 One has to be brave

This was perfect for Solana, given her own role as an outsider in the school, and her own challenges in adapting to her new surroundings.  She memorized the verses and delivered them beautifully with a flawless accent.  When she finished there was an audible gasp from the parents and a spontaneous applause erupted amongst those gathered.  We were all so proud of Solana.

The official website of Argentina provides this explanation of the commemoration of October 12.  (Translated by Google translate).

What is celebrated on October 12?
The October 12, formerly known as Columbus Day, commemorates the date in which the issue of the Genoese Christopher Columbus reached an island off the coast of America. From there begins the contact between Europe and America, culminating in the meeting of two worlds, leading to the transformation of all human lives, American and European. In this way, that October 12, 1492 meeting of cultures led to a completely different, changed the world economy and demographic changes unleashed in America. Currently under the name of Cultural Diversity Day American sought from various agencies to promote an ongoing reflection on the history and direct towards dialogue for cultural diversity, as standing there as well promoting the human rights of our indigenous peoples, as required by the Constitution in its articles on the equality of persons, giving you the guarantee of respect for the identity and the right to bilingual and intercultural education. A real day to remember, celebrate and work for the welfare of all cultures. This is a date that now enables deep reflections and debates, as well as express the claims of indigenous peoples in the Americas.

Change of event : Day of American Cultural Diversity
[It] is important the decision to change the name of the holiday on October 12, as the term used above (“Columbus Day”) is offensive and discriminatory. For years has been discussing what happened in our continent with the arrival of the conquistadores in 1492, thus establishing a holiday which commemorates the respect for cultural diversity, is a historic recognition with indigenous change the meaning of the holiday ” involves harmonizing national legislation with the rights of indigenous peoples, dedicating and recognizing that human rights have the characters of universality, indivisibility and interdependence “, reported from the National Institute against Discrimination, Xenophobia and Racism (INADI). It noted that the Constitution enshrines the right to equality in Articles 16 and 75, paragraph 23, while Article 75, paragraph 17 recognizes the ethnic and cultural diversity of indigenous peoples of Argentina, ensuring respect for their identity and the right to bilingual education and intercultural and Article 75, paragraph 22 provides constitutional status to human rights instruments listed there, which in turn enshrined in more than one occasion that principle of equality and nondiscrimination. It should be noted, also that this transformation is consistent with Recommendation 84 of the National Plan against Discrimination, which advises “Transforming the October 12 on a day of historical reflection and intercultural dialogue.” Source:

About jdicus

I am a Spanish and social studies teacher on year-long sabbatical in Mendoza, Argentina. Our family consists of myself, wife Jenny Breen, and daughters Solana and Frances. With this blog we endeavor to chronicle our experience living abroad.
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