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Latin American backwardness: our fault? March 1, 2010

Posted by espainisdifferent in History.

Every time a Spaniard visits Latin American is usually well received and welcome but… has to listen to blames of what his ancestors did. Also they have the feeling that if they are not developed enough it is in part our fault: we stole their gold. But how accurate is this?

One of the most common blames is the one that says that one of the reasons of the  underdevelopment in Latinamerica is that the Spaniards stole the gold of those lands and that’s why they are impoverished. This appreciation is quite childish to be honest. It is well known that the Spanish conquerors  brought to motherland vast ammounts of gold in their galleons. They conquered and exploited the American land and its peoples at a very high cost in lives and condemmed many to semi-slavery at best. Imperialism is bad by definition. However, some empires have been more damaging than others. Some empires leave an useful legacy that can be used for good. Others leave just nothing. The Spanish left behind a number of universities, public buildings, cathedrals, churches, etc. Moreover, the Spanish, even if unintendedly, gave one of the most precious tools for economic development, a common language for millions of people in a number of countries, concentrated all of them in a very specific geographical area. Well used, this common language can help Latin-Americans to achieve growth, prosperity and further integration among these countries. Have a look to the European Union and you will find that not all Europeans can understand one another. Latin-Americans can.

Latin-America is free from Spain for 200 years already. I think is time for them to move on and not to be eternally outraged and blaming some guys who came to conquer their land from the other side of the Atlantic long time ago for the Latin-America backwardness and the bad things that happened to them, and that eventually happen in the future. This is not fair.

The Iberian Peninsule was invaded by Greeks, Roman and Arabs and we are not blaming Greeks, Italian, Arabs, Algerians and others for the bad things that their ancestors did to our people. Of course, the ruthless conquest of America by Spanish is regretable but whatever happened must be seen in historical terms, taking as a framework the circumstances of the time when these developments occurred. When the Kingdom of Spain commenced the conquest of the New World it had just left behind 800 years of constant warfare against Muslims. In this time too, around 1500, Spain was surging as the rising hegemon in Europe with numerous wars to fight to hold this hegemony. Added to this, Spanish people genuinaly believed they were the chosen ones by God to spread the true religion over the World. Next to this there was the chance to realise the unnoble wishes of these warriors thirsty of wealth and glory. America gave them the opportunity.

With all due respect, asking for pardon where due, I hope Latin-American people become more understanding and mature in this issue, they overcome it and move on.


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