Conquistadores: why oh why?

I had never thought about the consequences of colonialism as much as while we were traveling around Latin America.

I am half Portuguese and half Spanish and, having studied in Portugal, I have obviously learnt a lot about “the great discoveries” of my people and the subsequent colonial actions in the Americas, Africa and Asia.

But it was while visiting places in Latin lands that it struck me that, after all, we were not the brave adventurous people history books had brainwashed me into believing. We were not sailing the sea in search of new richness for mankind, we were instead unrightfully stripping locals of their possessions and, what’s perhaps even worse, beliefs. I know, silly me for not thinking about this in depth earlier!

In Cusco (Peru), for example, Christian churches were built right on top of Inca temples. There was no respect for the indigenous people, neither for their gods.

And that is why when I look at buildings as the one in this photo, as impressive as they might look at a first glance, I can’t help but feel ashamed of the history of my own countries.

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  • i don’t know about the Spanish, but the Portuguese really have to let go of their romantic view of their history, and particularly of their colonial past. It is quite surreal how children are taught about Portuguese history…

    • Zara Says

      So very true!
      We really can’t think of ourselves as “heroes” this much, there’s a need for a more down-to-earth and realistic view on our history (even the most recent part of it).

  • Jamelia Says

    This church looks so beautiful! I hope I get to see it when I go to Peru! Thanks for posting such beautiful pictures!

  • Michael Says

    Every time a Spanish ship is found and the bounty is returned to the rightful owners it makes you think about it doesn’t it ? Do you know what caused the depression in the 30′s ? Stolen gold promised to the North, 3 ships in total sank. Recently one ship was found, the gold coins were minted in Lima the marks are still there. There is surviving family here in Peru that rightfully own that gold, what did the USA do ? Returned it to Spain. The family in Peru was discredited by the USA government and then allowed to steal the gold once again.

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