What Went Wrong?

September 1st, 2009
by Alfonso Ebanks

[private] v7-9-Our Islands-TrujilloOn the 14th day of August of 1502, Christopher Columbus set foot for the first time on the mainland of the American continent at a place called Punta de Caxinas (Punta Castilla). Twenty two years later Hernan Cortes founded the town of La Natividad (Puerto Cortes) and in that same year Cristobal de Olid founded the town of Triunfo de la Cruz (Tela). In 1525 Juan Medina founded the town of Trujillo.

It was not until 1607 that the English founded the Jamestown settlement and later in 1620 the Mayflower brought a group of English Separatists to the eastern coast of North America. The second group was called the Pilgrims and they landed in Massachusetts. Ten years after they landed they founded a town that would become the city of Boston and gave start to the greatest and most powerful nation the world has ever seen – USA. While Spain was the richest country in the world during America’s conquest, all they left behind was a legacy of language and religion.

I have often wondered as to what went wrong with countries settled by the Spaniards? While the Spanish had almost a century head start on the English, their old colonies are still struggling to feed their people and depend on loans and handouts from the rest of world that has long since moved into the space age.

After about three hundred years of Spanish rule, Honduras became an independent nation in 1821 and only about thirty years before (1788) the British began colonizing Australia with the founding of what was to become the city of Sydney, starting with the most unlikely material, convicts. There were several hundred male convicts and 180 women. So, Trujillo is 105 years older than Boston and San Pedro Sula is 252 years older than Sidney. What has slowed our advancement? Where did we go wrong?

To provide the answers to these questions, it would probably take many years of hard work by physical anthropologists, sociologists and maybe other learned persons specialized in the human sciences. It is said that all countries with tropical climates are very slow in climbing the ladder of development and the reason for this is that there is no need to work diligently in the spring and summer in order to be able to survive the winter. A person in the tropics can survive in the wild quite well with a minimum of equipment; the land is bountiful. The climate itself does not inspire people to work very hard. I believe there is also a very basic but important difference in the colonizing done by the Spaniards and that done by the English. In most cases the Spanish founded towns leaving a few Iberian sailors and some livestock. This meant that for the town to grow the sailors had to obtain women from the local native population.

The Spanish brought their machismo and native Americans contributed their natural tendency to conserve energy. This mixture of blood has not served us well. When the English landed in Massachusetts they came with bag and baggage including their women, their children and their livestock. Their venture was a private endeavor and no government was involved. This is not true for the rest of the settlements started in the Americas where the Spanish maintained a master-serf relationship with the peoples of their part of the new world. We have never outgrown this and as was the custom during the colonial days we are still unable to refer to someone without placing a handle in front of their name and using as many last names as the paper can hold. Not even the media will refer to a person without making reference to their education level or status of some kind.

In some cases when a person have achieved some degree of success and does not have a title the media will make one up. For instance neither of the last two presidents of this country had titles so the media fixed it. This may not seem like anything drastic, but it truly reflects our inability to leave the colonial days behind us.

For us to grow as a people we need to forget the days of subjugation and lose our adoration for a mother country that has given back so very little for all the things they took from us. We should leave our Spanish and Indian egos behind us and learn how to change our attitudes towards each other and just maybe we could start building a progressive country, with fairness and respect for other individuals and honesty in government and then we will begin to see change and prosperity for all. [/private]

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