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Francisco Franco is still dead… and so is Cortés

10 October 2021

“Osadía” is about as close a Spanish equivalent to “Chutzpah” you can find. As to a fuller definition, look no futher than the latest from Francisco Franco’s zombie minions, the VOX party.

It’s not that Cortés wasn’t a seminal figure in Mexican history (you can’t get around that), nor that the Conquest didn’t have a significant impact on world history (it did), but Vox’s DEMANDS that Mexico rebuild a tomb for Hernan Cortés… because….?

Vox, if you’re not familiar with them, basically longs for a return to the Franco era, the same way Franco longed for the by-gone days when Castillians dominated not just Spain (and those pesky Catalans, Basques, and others heard and obeyed… or at least shut up), everybody went to Church, and the Pope was definitely not some provincial from the far-flung corners of the (long gone) Empire with weird ideas about tolerance. Black Shirts pushing the Black Legend.

Much as I accept that there is some validity to modern critiques of the “Black Legend” — the common belief that Spanish colonialism, and Spanish repression at home, was somehow worse than that of other European nations. As an example, I point to the Spanish Inquisition.

In no way better, or worse than other ideological courts of the time, it did at least have codified rules of evidence, and wasn’t as likely to resort to torture as other analogous courts. And, a much lower body count than most. About 2 executions per year for 300 years thoughout a world-wide Empire, compared to Henry VIII of England, who managed in 38 years to off something like 10 times that number, just in England and Wales for various forms of “heresy”. Where the Black Legend goes off the rails is what VOX finds admirable. Imposing European culture on the Americas. Oh, sure, they argue, some mistakes were made, but to them, destroying indignous cultures and the more than occasional genocide, wasn’t the same as the English colonial system’s policy of genocide … and that, besides, it made Spain rich (which it didn’t, just inflated the currency).

The piratical Cortés and his “ad-venture capitalism” kick-started the wholesale looting of what’s now Latin America, with disasterous consequences for the Iberians (something VOX overlooks) not to mention what heppened here, not discounting the various Eurasian diseases introduced that wiped out up to 90% of the peoples of the Americas. Mexican’s don’t forgive or forget Cortés, but accept that the Conquest he led as historial fact. As the monument at the site of the final defeat of Cuauhtémoc reads: “Neither a victory nor a defeat, but the painful birth pangs of the Mexican people”.

And, so, Cortés is not a Mexican as such, but a figure in an event, or at the beginning of a 300 year series of events that came from the outside that went into the creation of the modern Mexican state and was (and remains) an important element in Mexican cultures. Note the plural.

For Mexico, and Mexicans, those 300 years of Spanish domination were at base, the beginning of large scale, external expoitation. VOX, devious, back-stabbing pious thugs –whether Franco or Cortés — are to be celebrated. Even if, as Vox will reluctantly admit, there were some “mistakes” (hey, they only destroyed the indigeous culture and reduced them to peonage… it’s not like they regularly committed genocide, right? it’s a minor matter. What matters to VOX is the romantic appeals of Making Spain Great Again (remind those north of the border of anyone?).

What more does a dead guy need?

And, in a fit of pique over Mexico’s request that the King of Spain just admit the Conquest wasn’t all that great, VOX demands… reparations?

For… those damned independence leaders (who couldn’t have been in their right mind, some not even Criollos of “pure Spanish blood”) for misplacing Cortés… a mere 367 years after he died. And, a mere 30 years after the old rogue’s wishes had been fulfilled and his remains placed (in an overwrought, now-gone tomb) in the Church of the Hospital de Jesús. Don’t ask the VOXistas about what happened to the Spanish Jews in 1492, when they’re focused on the 1820s expulsion of Spanish subjects from the new Mexican republic, and Lucas Alemán, the hospital administrator at the time, and a fan-boy of the Vicerealm, broke open the tomb, shoved the bones in a box, and deposit them in the soon to be Spanish Embassy. Which reopened in the 1840s, but bureaucray being bureacracy, was pretty well forgotten about until in 1948 some low level clerk going through a filing cabinet had an “oh, shit! What’s this doing here?” moment, and, with press and officials in attendence, what remained of the remains were popped in a hole to the left of the main altar back in the Church of Hospital de Jesus and given a nice bronze plaque.

I am tempo write something like “what happens next remains to be seen”, but I won’t. For all the aburdity of the “demand”, VOX, just for taking any interest in Mexico’s internal affairs, needs to be taken very seriously. That they convinced some PAN senators and delagates to sign on to a common manifesto, which appears to be some some of anti-Bolivarian, or rather counter-Bolivarian, common front against “communism” in the “Hispanic” world is troubling. PAN’s fascist roots are well known, but we thought the pro-fascist elements had been marginalized within the party, and it’s recent coalition with PRI and PRD was expected to tame the more reactionary elements. If they really think Cortés’ rotting bones are all that important, they can have them… provided they take their Latin American supporters with them, and go away. 0

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