Discovery or Invention? / Fernando Damaso

Painting by Abela

It’s a widely accepted truth that America was discovered by Christopher Columbus, but there are still a few who confer that honor on Vikings, a Chinese sailor or Americo Vespucio. The question is: Was America indeed discovered or isn’t it more of a European invention? First things first. America as such did not exist before the discovery. Therefore, it could not have been discovered because it was something that did not really exist. What was then called the East Indies, New Spain, the New World and in the end America, was simply a geographic space occupied (or unoccupied) by different ethnic groups that were fighting among themselves for survival. The more developed cultures (Aztec, Mayan and Incan) were occupying only parts of this territory, and usually made raids to their neighbor’s region looking for food and slaves with which they could solve their problems and extend their dominance. It was a spectrum of towns without a common denominator.The Europeans who came after Columbus, astonished by the unknown, could not help but to make classifications based on their concepts and knowledge, and described it orally and in writing in a comprehensible way for their peers. They gave a name to this amalgam of lands and peoples, putting everything in one bag and avoiding the larger differences. After that, but not before, this geographic piece of the world became known as America and was a benchmark in the same way,for example,that Asia and Africapreviouslywere.

This newly invented geographical entity needed some attributes to distinguish it from the Old World, and so it naturally was described as being savage, exuberant, rich, sensual, violent, etc. America dazzled Europe and the hungry and needy, the adventurers, attended America as the wasp to the honeycomb, and with sword and musket shots, they molded it to the form and likeness of those who invented it. The more advanced culture, as always, crushed the more backward ones and even though they also took nourishment from them they finally did away with them as determinant entities in aparticular historical epoch. From this process the invented entity (America) was nourished to become through the time in a reality.

The same happened with every single one of its peoples, including the Cuban people, which previously did not exist either. It was composed of a handful of Arauco Indians, who had arrived from different areas and were simply living a piece of earth, which no one knew for certain what to call. Most of the credit for inventing Cuba belongsmainlyto José Martí, although Europeans and other individuals first spread the seeds. He was the one who, putting together the rubble spread along the years, gave form and content to this nationality establishing, in the same way his ancestors had done with America, its attributes.

Martí, an enormous idealist, invented a country from a few men and based his dream of an ideal republic which was inaccessible to common mortals, since there the traumatic frustration that always went and still goes with Cubans for not attaining the high goals set by the Apostle — as Cubans call Marti. To Martí’s pretensions, Cuba should be a country of supermen and heroes, and not one of citizens. This is easy to prove if we go through our past and recent history: Hatuey, Guamá, Céspedes, Agramonte, Maceo, Martí, Gómez, Mella, Villena, Chibás, Echeverría, Frank País, Camilo and others, Cuba’s fate was to become a lighthouse to America and the world. A hard task continued, and that without knowing took us to really believe we were something more important than what we truly are: an elongated drop of land with spots on the map of the world.

There are substantial differences between being discovered and being invented: what already exists is discovered, has content and shape, a breathing body living by itself; what doesn’t exist is invented. To our common misfortune, America and Cuba are simple inventions, with the burden that means: to believe ourselves the center of the world and the main cause of its movement. This shared lie was and still is used by our leaders, wherever they are, to support their political career and to be eternally in the power, representing our genetic disease.

Translated by: @Hachhe and Unstated

October 14 2012