2- The Meeting of Two Worlds

This week the readings were based on what we may consider, today, the beginning of Latin America. For me Latin America has always been full of culture and history. I had never considered the beginning of it; I had only ever considered it as it is today. Hence, I found 1942 an interesting but logical time to pin point its start.

Over the years, I had learned of the arrival of the conquistadores in Latin America and more specifically in Mexico. I was born in Mexico so I was always interested in the stories my parents would tell me about the pre-hispanic times and how Mexico came to be. As I grew, I came to understand the deep impacts that they had on the people and their society. My heart always sank knowing that these indigenous cultures had been lost because of the actions that the Europeans took. It was no different this time when I watched the videos and did the readings.

It never fails to amaze me how people can be ignorant to other’s cultures. In Columbus’ journal, he mostly talks about increasing his wealth. He fails to explore a new culture. Instead he seeks gold, manipulates the people, and plans a future using the resources with the people as slaves.

I think Poma’s piece does a better job of describing both sides of the story. For me, it really depicts the misunderstandings between the Europeans and the indigenous peoples as I imagined it to be. Although I have a general idea of what happened to the indigenous cultures in Latin America, I was still shocked when I read this story. I was surprised that Poma wrote of the horrible treatment towards the Incas.

What interests me most in all of these stories is the role that religion had to play. It intrigued me that when Columbus thought the people were incapable of much, he wrote that they could be easily converted to Christianity, and when he thought they were intelligent, he believed they would find reason to convert to Christianity. He assumed that they had no religious beliefs because he saw no signs that were familiar to him. Even then, he failed to recognize that they must have beliefs because they believed Columbus himself was sent from the heavens. In Poma’s writings, he illustrates a more instantaneous effect of religion. When the emperor unknowingly disrespected Christianity, the Inca’s were immediately killed and the emperor captured. In this course, I would like to learn more of the impact that religion had during the colonization and what role it plays in modern Latin America.

From these readings, I concluded that wealth and religion were two of the biggest driving forces. That being the case, which if the two plays a more significant role? Could one exist without the other? Would the treatment have been different if religion had not been involved?