Tuesday, June 17, 2014

the last book I ever read (Marie Arana's Bolívar: American Liberator, excerpt two)

from Bolívar: American Liberator by Marie Arana:

For all of Spain’s attempts to retain absolute control of its colonies, it could not prevent the interracial mixing that was inevitable in a world forged by male conquistadors. The crown quickly—and by necessity—took the attitude that marriage between races was acceptable, as long as Spanish men could persuade non-Spanish women to be baptized Christians. In truth, the Spaniards were hardly racially “pure” Europeans. After centuries of tumultuous history, the bloodline contained traces of Arab, Phoenician, African, Roman, Basque, Greek, Ligurian, Celt, German, Balkan, and Jew. But once they began mixing with Indians and blacks in the Americas, a cosmic race representative of all continents began to emerge. When Simón de Bolívar, the Spanish overlord, arrived in Venezuela in the late 1500s, the population counted 5,000 Spaniards, 10,000 Africans, and 350,000 native Indians in the country. Two hundred years later, when the Liberator was born, according to anthropologist Alexander von Humboldt, Venezuela had 800,000 inhabitants, of whom more than half were mestizo or mulatto. Today, more than two thirds of all Latin Americans are mixed-race. Nowhere else on earth has a civilization of such ethnic complexity been wrought in such a short span of time.

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